The European Commission is mulling over the possibility of implementing an open standard for ebooks so they can be read on any e-reader.
During the Frankfurt Book Fair Neelie Kroes VP for the European Union’s Digital Agenda told the audience that customers should be able to buy any ebook to work on any dedicated e-reader.
“As the e-publishing sector develops, we may also have to consider how to deliver interoperability,” Kroes said. “That might mean, for example, that people can buy content for any device from any supplier, transfer that content between their own devices, and keep possession of it even beyond the device’s lifespan.
“That could deliver openness, freedom and choice for the consumer – with benefits too for smaller market players like independent bookshops. Open standards already exist in this field, but take-up is still low.”
The main topic discussed was how books from different ecosystems do not work on most popular e-readers. Amazon is notorious for its own ebook format and makes libraries and users conform to its standard. Other ebook formats sold online use proprietary formats and are incompatible with most devices.
The jist of the matter is that in a fair trade scenario there should be a consistent ebook format that all e-readers can adhere to. Obviously EPUB is the most common solution, but the EU is thinking of mandating one specific format to be applicable on all e-readers sold in the EU.
This decision is far from finalized, but the fact high level members of the European Digital Department is talking about instituting a common format is a step in the right direction. It will help the industry grow and more user friendly tools may develop to allow them to be easier to use for people not adept to technology.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.