Sony eBook Store Embraces EPUB Format

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Sony may have entered the e-reader market a full year before Amazon.com launched its electronic readers, but the company has been playing second fiddle to the Kindle’s popularity. Lately, Sony has been showing signs it wants to give Amazon a run for its money, recently announcing two new lower-cost version of its eReader and dropping prices on books available through its eBook store. Today, Sony dropped another shoe, announcing that by the end of the year Sony will only be selling books in the XML-based Epub format, created by the International Digital Publishing Forum, which includes publishers like HarperCollins and Random House.

The move applies pressure to Amazon’s Kindle business, which sells books that can (currently) only be read on Kindle devices and Amazon’s Kindle application for iPhone—although Amazon has indicated it wants to expand the Kindle platform to additional devices. However, the Epub format offers additional advantages, enabling customers to read purchased books on any reader that supports Epub—and that will include much anticipated eReader from Plastic Logic, due next year. Support for Epub means that consumers, in theory, won’t be restricted to just one reader, but also means they can purchase books in Epub format from any store they like, regardless of whether it’s run by the same company that made their reader device.

"Our intention is to lead by example," said the president of Sony’s digital reading business division Steve Haber, in a statement. "Our Readers have long supported industry-standard formats such as Epub and PDF. Now, what is quickly becoming the de facto standard for eBooks will be available in our store."

Current Sony Reader models already support Epub; Sony also plans to issue an update for its first Reader device to support Epub.

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