Sony embraces ePub for eBooks
No-one should go it alone, except Amazon
Sony has announced it will be adopting the ePub standard as its only format for electronic books, along with DRM from Adobe, in its continuing battle against Amazon's Kindle platform.
Sony runs a book store with protected content for its range of electronic-ink-based readers, and recently added half a million public-domain titles with the help of Google, but purchased books come in a proprietary format and can't be moved between reading devices, a limitation that should change once this transition is completed.
Electronic book readers are often tied to specific book stores, with exactly the kind of DRM that proved unacceptable on digital music. Companies such as Amazon are using hardware to bring customers to their book store, in the hope that once there they'll decide to hang around and spend more money. The creation of Kindle applications for the iPhone, and other platforms, demonstrates how Amazon is interested in selling books rather than devices.
Electronic book piracy is already rampant, with all but the most successful authors unable to afford the constant monitoring that's needed to protect their work, and the consequences are arguably worse than for the music industry: book readers aren't going to pay to attend live readings, or buy t-shirts from their favourite authors, so selling books is the only revenue stream most authors have.
Sony will be using Adobe Content Server 4 (ACS4) to protect content coming from the Sony book store, which will all be in ePub format by the end of the year.
Some platforms, such as Mobipocket, already allow users to securely copy content between devices, though since it was bought by Amazon the development of Mobipocket has been severally curtailed and fans fear for the future of the platform when Kindle is such an obvious competitor.
Just like consumers of music, those reading books will want to be able to copy content between devices - your correspondent started War & Peace on a Newton, and just finished it on an iRex D1000S, with uncountable devices in between - so standards in terms of format are essential as well as software that's happy to ease the transition.
Sony's announcement means their e-book store will be able to provide content for competitors' hardware, which could be a good move if the future really is in services rather than devices. ®
Book DRM is counterproductive
There are a number of brave publishers out there who have been in the vanguard of ebook publishing, have published ebooks for years and don't use DRM.
Guess what they found? "Piracy" is a free marketing tool.
One publisher (Baen) even offers free ebooks from their authors, and every time they release a free ebook, sales for that author increase!
Why is this?
It's simple really, in the book trade author recognition is all. Shops will order books by authors they know in preference to ones that they don't.
So the only chance an author has of becoming known is to have copies of their work out there and gaining brand recognition. Someone can easily pick up a free copy of one of their books, then go out and order the rest of the series.
So those publishers that practise DRM are stiffing their own authors.
The sony 505 hits the £100 mark I will jump in. With this device, unlike the kindle, you can load it with DRM free formats. Waterstones were advertising it for £150, so the prices are creeping down. Maybe next Xmas.
E-Ink sounds pretty cool but I bet it's nothing like I imagine lol. I thik reading from an LCD screen would be annoying. I personally prefer paper books and don't intend to buy an e-reader.
The cheapest one is the borders one which is about £180, which is a fair price, but will obviously be an LCD version.
I wouldn't enjoy reading a book on my computer screen so I really don't think i'd enjoy reading a book on an e-reader with a much smaller display.
Once they come down in price, or if somebody who I know buys one, maybe I will be converted, but for £400+ for the ones which are aparently decent I will have to pass (for now)
The fact most older books (which are some of the best) can be picked up used for a few quid (Example Hardback version of Abarat by Clive Barker for £1.99 used). You really save a lot. I only read one book at a time personally (when reading for pleasure) so being able to Carry 100 books isn't really useful.
But the nay-sayers should consider the amount of shelf space you could save. To me that would be the biggest advantage. I'm personally a fan of digital content, when I know it should be available to me for a looooong time. (Example Half-Life 2, Counterstrike: Source etc on STEAM aren't going anywhere anytime soon)
If there we DRM free downloadable movies, or somewhere in the UK you could rent a movie by downloading it and watching on the TV via HDMI I would pay for that. You would obviously need some form of DRM for rentals.
Kinda went off the point a little, but think I made some okay points lol.
The Flash player on Linux has all the features of the Mac and Windows players, including support for DRM in streams or downloaded content.
DRM just an excuse
I find people foaming at the mouth about DRM really odd. I understand it to a degree, but I think people are very silly if they at least think companies AREN'T going to go to lengths to protect their products and media. If you opt to go down the digital format route for something high value, like a book, you've got to accept people have an income and a product to protect. You might not give a shit about the author Gordon, but the book is their living.
I was very blasse about piracy in music and didn't really care if I paid for stuff or not unless it was my favourite bands, but a friend of mine opened my eyes. His best mate made his living from selling CD's of the two bands he writes for and plays in. Now, thanks to illegal file sharing, this guy has had to give up being a professional musician and take a day job again because he can't sell CD's. Despite working extremely hard at his music for many years. To me that stinks.
Walmart switching off servers stinks too and that is where DRM is used in an extortionate way because it forces consumer to re-buy or lose out, and is a totally relevant example to quote. But I feel it slightly out of context here. As pointed out this is about standardising formats to ensure Sony is competing on a level playing field in the ebook store market and their hardware product isn't disadvantaged in the eyes of the consumer by having a strange format. In effect this will serve to help standardise the digital book market very early on and encourage uptake. Do away with the AAC, MP3, WMA etc format type fk ups that music sales have gone through. Only to screw the customer when formats are made redundant and servers switched off. As you pointed out.
Sure DRM will likely restrict distribution of the ebook you have bought, but 1) You switch to digital formats you have to accept that with high value purchases the publisher will want to protect themselves as much as they can and for as long as they can, and 2) 'Digital' doesn't mean free. People have to realise that. You wouldn't buy a car from a dealership and then bitch and moan when they refused to lend your mates cars for free for as long as they wanted would you?!
Spouting DRM vociferously as a reason not to adopt ebook readers as a technology is an excuse in my opinion. An opinion equally as valid/ spurious as the next man's I might add.