Sony’s PRS-505 ebook reader can now read ebooks produced using the open ePub format giving this year-old, industry-endorsed standard a major boost. The PRS-505 is the first dedicated ebook reader to announce this support.
The same upgrade, available to existing users via a firware upgrade, will also provide better support for the PDF format by allowing the PRS-505 to read ebooks in PDF format that have been secured using digital rights management software (DRM). The ePub implementation also allows reading of both DRMed and non-DRMed ebook files.
EPUB is an XML-based format that has been developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), a consortium of publishers, hardware and software vendors, and other organisations. It provides a standard for the publishing of reflowable digital publications that support a variety of reading platforms.
In an encouraging nod to a future, more open world of ebook availablilty, Sony’s Steve Haber, senior vice president of consumer product marketing, said, “The Reader is an open device and we will continue to explore formats that will provide the widest variety of content for Reader users. This upgrade opens the door to a whole host of paid and free content from third-party eBook stores, web sites and even public libraries.”
Sony will be launching into the UK market soon, breaking away from its US-only strategy and hopefully bringing it a step closer to availability Downunder. Until the significant players in the hardware market commit to expanding their distribution, it’s unlikely publishers, especially non-US companies, will be able to justify significant investment in digital publications.