The news is out that Sony will be offering free public domain eBooks from their only bookstore, from Google Books (Forbes, WSJ, NYT). Google already offers free online viewing and PDF downloads of the public domain books they’ve scanned: the real news here is that these ebooks (over 500,000 of them) will be made available as EPUB downloads. This means they will be able to reflow and adapt to different size screens. On the Sony Reader and EBL software, it’s Adobe Reader Mobile technology that implements the EPUB rendering, so these eBooks will be fully compatible with the many other devices and smartphone applications that are also planning to integrate Adobe’s technology, as well as with Adobe Digital Editions. This marks a major milestone in the rapid adoption fo EPUB as the standard format for reflow-centric publications, and a further step towards recognition that with PDF for paginated documents, and EPUB for reflow-centric documents, the industry is ready to move on from the “Tower of eBabel” of proprietary eBook formats that have plagued publishers and impeded consumer adoption.
March 18, 2009