Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sony Plans to Adopt Common Format for E-Books

Sony has seemed to learn their lesson - creating a unique format doesn't necessarily win you market share. The beta - VHS wars for consumer acceptance must still have battle scars, even though the DVD has replaced the videotape. And so Sony is working with the format and not against it. "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." Good news for the growth of the E-book and hopefully profitable news for Sony.

On the other hand, Amazon, the current market leader with Kindle, uses its own proprietary format. But leading and staying in the lead are two different things and the electronic book is still a very immature business. I still recall the early day of internet service providers (ISP); Prodigy was the leader until upstart AOL came out with a faster, better, more user-friendly model. Today, AOL is still around; Prodigy not so lucky. Sure there were other factors, but maintaining number one position takes constant innovating and marketing. Prodigy did neither.

Issues with E-book readers, most especially digital rights management, will affect innovation and usability. The customer must see, understand, and use the benefits. Books are read and shared; e-books may need to follow a similar route. The issues are more complex with a digital format, but solutions can be found.

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