Book Publishers Looking for Universal eBook Format

Last week many companies involved in book publishing came together for the annual BookExpo America to discuss the present and future of books.  One of the major points to come out of the meeting was that publishers want a single eBook format that can work across all platforms.  Perhaps they haven’t yet heard of ePub. {Wired}

One of these books can't be shared like the others

As it stands now, eBooks are made available through mostly proprietary book stores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iBookstore.  Other companies like Kobo, Sony Library and Fictionwise offer eBooks that work on their selected devices or apps, but can also work on other devices.  Those stores use the ePub format, which was supposed to be the universal format.  ePub is actually used by Barnes & Noble and Apple as well, though some extra Digital Rights Management (DRM) is added on top of the existing ePub DRM in those stores.

Micheal Serbinis of Kobo, when interviewed by Reuters, mentioned that he expects readers will one day be able to lend books to each other.  This is already available on the Nook from Barnes & Noble, though on no other platform.  A world where Kindle users can share books with nook owners would be nice to see, which a universally adopted format could help with.

Susan Peterson Kennedy of Penguin Publishing claimed that “contrary to popular belief, the book is much more flexible [than eBooks].”  Without a universal format that can be true.  EBooks, however, can be used almost anywhere, which is almost more flexible.  Books like “Only Revolutions” by Mark Z. Danielewski {Wikipedia} have proven that the book can do more interesting things, but for most stories and simple text file that can be read on a computer, eReader, tablet and cell phone would just as easily suffice.


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