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Sony Dropping Proprietary Book Reading Format

August 14, 2009

Sony unveiled plans on Thursday to convert its e-book store to an industry standard format.

The company said the move “allows Sony to make its e-book store compatible with multiple devices and its Reader devices open to multiple sources for content.”

The Japanese electronics giant said it would convert its e-book store to ePub formats by the end of the year as part of “an effort to take the confusion out of digital book formats.”

It said it plans to drop the copy-protection software on the Reader in favor of a cross-platform anti-copying software solution that Adobe developed.

This move by Sony is seen as an effort to compete against Amazon’s Kindle, whose electronic books have proprietary software that are only read by the device or Kindle software for Apple’s iPhone.

“Consumers should not have to worry about which device works with which store,” Steve Haber, president of Sony’s Digital Reading Business Division, said in a statement.

“With a common format and common content protection solution they will be able to shop around for the content they want regardless of where they get it or what device they use,” he said.

Over 60 companies and organizations developed the ePub format, and it has received the support of the International Digital Publishing Forum.

Sony said that dozens of publishers are producing e-books using the ePub standard.

Amazon has yet to give out any knowledge on the sales figures for the Kindle, and chief executive Jeff Bezos said that the company may never reveal the numbers.

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