Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Sony Claims EPUB Is 'Format of Choice' for UK E-Books London Book Fair extends scope to consumer electronics Story by William Pollard
The Digital Zone and Theatre sponsored by Sony has brought the discussion about e-books onto the show floor of the London Book Fair, (April 20-22).
Previously talk had mostly been in smaller spaces discussing possibilities in the future. Last September Sony launched hardware in the UK supporting the EPUB format, previously little known. Waterstones, a UK chain of bookshops, has promoted the Sony Reader in most towns though not in all branches. Stocks were very limited towards the end of 2008 but are now meeting a continuing demand. There is no announced date for a UK launch for the Amazon Kindle, the major device that is not yet supporting the EPUB format.
At a seminar held in the spacious Cromwell Suite, Richard Palk from Sony claimed that EPUB is now the "format of choice for UK consumers". He later mentioned other devices such as downloads for the iPhone. Stanza was part of the Digital Zone and the software for the iPhone also supports EPUB and there have been over a million downloads from the Apple store. Palk did not give specific numbers for the UK but stated that the Sony Reader has sold over 400,000 on the planet. So there are no clear numbers for the UK but it is possible that EPUB could become a standard as there is no sign of an alternative from Amazon and the Kindle may have to be extended to EPUB to avoid customer confusion.
"Confusion" is the term used in panel discussions to describe consumer impatience with conflicting formats that seem not to offer any advantages for consumers. There is more about EPUB from the seminar on video posted to YouTube.
London publishers seem to accept the case for EPUB made by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), also part of the Digital Zone. Executive Director Michael Smith, as reported by Publisher's Weekly told a conference held just before the Book Fair that that "the open source reader software, which reflows text to accommodate virtually any device, needs some tweaking. But with adoption growing in the US, the UK, Germany and with inroads being made in France and elsewhere in Europe, EPUB is poised for significant adoption."Publishers Weekly reporter Andrew Albanese took the view that digital publishing is still a minority interest, but he expected it could "move toward the center of the show floor in coming years -- and for next year's Digital Zone and Theatre to have more than two dozen seats" because of the overflowing crowds on this occasion. Read the full piece at OhMyNews.