Dear Sony

August 13th, 2009

I have your Reader rather than a Kindle (I received it well before the Kindle frenzy). And your latest decision makes me feel very good about that.  And would probably sway not only my next purchase of an upgraded device to your brand, but also builds my loyalty your brand overall.  Bravo!

Dear anyone else that cares,

What decision?  On Thursday, Sony Electronics announced that by the end of the year it will sell digital books only in the ePub format, an open standard created by a group including publishers like Random House and HarperCollins.

This means Sony has come down firmly on the side of the open standard.  What that single common set of technology standards means is much more flexibility for consumers of ebooks.  It means we can use any device that supports the standard, from low cost basic models to those high end whiz bang devices with tons of features.  And don’t have to worry or think about what ebook can be read on what device. I have no problems with the realities of digital rights and restrictions on how the content can be used/distributed, but I don’t like being told how and on what device I can read that content.    So I applaud this move because it simplifies use and encourages even more rapid adoption of ebooks (which means more great content for me to devour).

E-book sales in the United States hit a record $14 million in June, a 136.2 percent increase from a year earlier, according to the Association of American Publishers.  And Amazon is the 800lb gorilla in this sector with the largest share, but thus far has advocated the closed platform approach and is opting to go it alone and not adopt the common standards.  It will be interesting to see which side Apple comes down on when they launch their tablet.  If (and it’s probably a big if given’s Apple’s propensity for closed systems) they come down on the side of the open standard, it could very well change the dynamic of the powerful share held firmly right now by Amazon.