Sony e-readers and OverDrive make news

August 13, 2009

Sony announced yesterday that by the end of the year it will begin selling ebooks for its Sony Reader in the epub format.  The switch from it’s own DRM to the open epub format is significant because it enables ebooks sold through the Sony website to be compatible with many other ebook readers.  The Kindle which uses it’s own version of DRM is not compatible with the open epub format.   😦

Epub format was adopted as the industry standard for ebooks in 2007 by the International Digital Publishing Forum.  Though epub is an open format, Sony will use software developed by Adobe to limit the number of times an ebook can be shared or copied.  Adobe Digital Editions is currently used by OverDrive in the ebooks it makes available to libraries.

The New York Times as always, has succinctly summarized the impact of Sony’s announcement for Amazon.  And of course any discussion of ebook readers is bound to include speculation about what Apple will decide to do if they announce their tablet computer later this year.

From the New York Times:

“Allen Weiner, an analyst at the technology research firm Gartner, says there is one more company that must declare its allegiance to either an open or closed world for e-books: Apple.

If, as expected, Apple soon introduces a tablet computer that can function as a reading device, and if it embraces an open standard like ePub, Amazon will have to reconsider its closed approach, Mr. Weiner said.

“If you see some Adobe executive up on stage with Steve Jobs when they announce the tablet, at that point Amazon has a lot to worry about,” he said.”

OverDrive and Sony also announced on Wednesday that the two companies will begin cross marketing each other’s products.  Sony which is expected to release a wireless reader later this year, will undoubtedly stir up renewed interest in ebooks as Sony will be promoting their availabiltiy from public libraries for free.

Look for more developments on this in the coming weeks.  And of course if you’re curious both the Sony Reader and the Kindle are available from IT through the equipment reservation system on the Intranet.

posting by jim


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