The eBook market just got a bit more interesting over the weekend as Sony ungraded and improved its Reader store. The biggest change, and the one that caught my attention, is that the folks at Sony are now exclusively offering their library of books in the ePub file format. This is a big move for Sony and another reason why now is a good time to consider switching to an eReader book device.
Just a few months ago, I wrote about my concern for the eBook industry to settle on a standard format for its files. With the Sony Reader, Amazon Kindle, and now Barnes and Noble’s “Nook” the eBook market is beginning to take off. The only real problem I’ve had with the eBook industry is the proprietary nature of the devices. Sony would only allow you to read books with a specific file format for their device and the Kindle was the same. Once you purchased an eBook, the file was tied to that company and no other device could use it. By comparison, I can purchase an MP3 audio file and use it on any number of devices from a variety of manufacturers without ever having to buy the file again. The ePub format changed this when it came on the scene a short time ago. With an ePub file, you could purchase a book and read it on the Kindle or the Sony Reader. With Barnes and Noble now entering the market, it’s essential that a standard for the files be established so people can purchase books as individual files and not have them tied to the device they are using at present. I give a virtual high-five to Sony for making the first move here. Another benefit is that you can re-download any files you purchased prior to the switch in ePub format. This makes your library easier to use in the future. Some might think this would be a bad move to make folks able to switch their allegiances to a Kindle or Nook but I think just the opposite. I purchased a Sony Reader for a variety of reasons and am now glad I did. When my PRS-505 model wears out, I’ll be inclined to purchase a Sony device first before I consider another competitor.
Another benefit for Sony is that their market for eBook purchases will go up as their store offers files that are usable on ALL devices and not just theirs. If Amazon and Barnes & Noble want to keep up, they will need to do the same thing and that means better prices for all of us. Again, the article I wrote just a few months ago touched on the price issue for me. I think the price of eBooks needs to come down and this move to a standard format will cause the competitors to do that naturally. It’s a positive move all the way around. It will be interesting to see how Amazon and Barnes & Noble respond to Sony’s bold move.