Sony Abandons Proprietary Ebook Format For EPUB

In a bold move, Japanese manufacturer Sony has dropped its own proprietary ebook document format and pledged to adopt the ePub open format.

Most Sony ebook readers are capable of reading the ePub format but Sony went a step further saying that all the ebooks in its online store will be converted by the end of the year.

The move is the clearest sign yet of Sony's will to catch up with Amazon in the booming e-reader market before the arrival of other players like the rumoured Apple Tablet.

The move though doesn't mean that the new format will be free from DRM protection. Sony will still use Adobe's COntent Server 4 (ACS4) to prevent illegal copies of ebooks from being distributed.

Steve Haber, president of Sony's digital reading business division, said in a statement that the decision will allow rivals' devices to read ebooks from Sony's store and vice-versa.

Sony launched two eBook readers earlier this month and pegged their prices lower than Amazon's popular Kindle range.

Furthermore, the consumer electronics giant has apparently dropped the price of its existing e-reader like the Sony E-Reader PRS-505 to around £150. The Amazon Kindle is not currently available outside the US.

Sony has been a major party in a number of high profile format battle. It lost the Betacam one against the VHS, lost the DAT and the Minidisc against the CD, won in the Blu-ray war against Toshiba and saw its ATRAC and Memory Stick Pro formats being trounced by MP3 and SD technology respectively.