San Diego - Sony said it will open up its e-book store to electronic book-readers other than its own, in contrast to Amazon.com, whose e-books work only with its Amazon Kindle e-reader and the iPhone/iPod Touch.
Sony said it will convert its e-book store to the industry standard ePub format, without propriety anti-copying software by the end of the year. Sony's e-reader devices will also become compatible with e-book stores other than its own e-bookstore, it said.
Steve Haber, president of Sony's digital reading business division, said that a market filled with proprietary formats and proprietary digital rights management software is limiting the growth of the e-book market. "Consumers should not have to worry about which device works with which store. With a common format and common content protection solution (DRM), they will be able to shop around for the content they want regardless of where they get it or what device they use."
He added, "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."
Sony will convert its books offered in the Broad Band eBook format (BBeB) to ePub. Sony is also adopting a universal DRM solution from Adobe.
When the store converts, Sony e-reader customers will be able to re-download their previously purchased in BBeB to convert them to ePub and the BBeB books will continue to work on the older devices.
Sony recently introduced new lower cost e-readers â€” the Reader Pocket Edition (priced at about $199), and the Reader Touch Edition (about $299) â€” that will support the ePub and PDF formats out of the box when they go on sale later this month.
The Sony PRS-505 and PRS-700 e-readers will also work with the revised site, and the original PRS-500 will require a downloadable upgrade to be provided by Sony."
Bob Nell, director of business development for Sony's digital reading division, said any e-book reader that supports the ePub format and Adobe Content Server 4 (ACS4) will be able to use Sony's eBook Store by the end of the year. Amazon's Kindle does not presently support these formats.
Astak, Cool-er and the upcoming iRex e-readers support Adobe software, and the two former devices also support ePub.
Nell affirmed that Sony is planning to introduce a wireless e-reader but would not give a time frame. "We are absolutely developing a wireless device. We understand the value and benefit of it. Amazon's Kindle offers wireless over-the-air downloads of e-books with no service fees for wireless service. Upcoming competitors Plastic Logic and iRex also plan to offer 3G wireless capability.
As to a possible Sony e-readers iPhone application, Nell said, "We're considering other platforms. We have no definitive plans now."