Paper books may be low tech, but no one will tell you how and where you can read them.

For many people, the problem with electronic books is that they come loaded with just those kinds of restrictions. Digital books bought today from Amazon.com, for example, can be read only on Amazon’s Kindle device or its iPhone software.

Some restrictions on the use of e-books are likely to remain a fact of life. But some publishers and consumer electronics makers are aiming to give e-book buyers more flexibility by rallying around a single technology standard for the books. That would also help them counter Amazon, which has taken an early lead in the nascent market.

On Thursday, Sony Electronics, which sells e-book devices under the Reader brand, plans to announce that by the end of the year it will sell digital books only in the ePub format, an open standard created by a group including publishers like Random House and HarperCollins.

Sony will also scrap its proprietary anticopying software in favor of technology from the software maker Adobe that restricts how often e-books can be shared or copied.

“There is going to be a proliferation of different reading devices, with different features and capabilities and prices for a different set of consumer requirements,” said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading unit. “If people are going to this e-book shopping mall, they are going to want to shop at all the stores, and not just be required to shop at one store.”

Source: New York Times

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