Sony to dump proprietary DRM in eBooks

This morning, Sony announced that it intends to "take the confusion out of digital book formats" and put all its weight behind the EPUB format. By the end of 2009, Sony will only sell EPUB books in its store, and will have dropped its proprietary DRM entirely in favor of Adobe's CS4 server side copy protection.

"A world of proprietary formats and DRMs creates silos and limits overall market growth," Steve Haber, president of Sony's Digital Reading Business Division said. "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."

Just over a year ago, Sony began its support for EPUB, the XML-based eBook standard used by the International Digital Publishing Forum, a group which includes major publishers such as Random House and HarperCollins.

EPUB is one of the most widely supported formats in eBook readers, yet is noticeably absent from the current market leading Amazon Kindle. Similar to the way Apple's iPod is paired with iTunes, the Kindle is very closely paired with Amazon, and consumers who want to load their Kindles with content from different stores have to go through extra steps to convert their documents to Kindle-friendly formats.

Sony appears to be addressing this issue directly as the Kindle's chief competitors all support the EPUB format, such as Barnes & Noble, Borders UK, and Penguin Books, to name only a few.

While Sony's readers still lack the simplicity of wireless shopping, the company is making affordability and openness its primary selling points. Convenience may be a bit further down the list, but not too far, according to The New York Times, which says Sony will be releasing a wireless Reader "later in the year."

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