Barnes & Noble embraces social digital rights management (DRM) and snubs Amazons proprietary AZW format.
In the latest s
alvo in the escalating eBook wars, Barnes & Noble recently announced it was standardizing on the open ePub and PDF formats, embedded with “social” digital rights management (DRM) content protection.
With this move, B&N is embracing the cross-platform Adobe solution accepted by nearly 100 providers, including Sony (announced in August it plans to convert its eBooks to the ePub format by the end of 2009).
However, that group does not include market-leader Amazon, which debuted its popular Kindle 2 in early 2009. Kindle 2 eBooks are available in Amazon’s proprietary AZW format, as well as support for PDF, HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.
This running battle between Amazon and everyone else is driving down prices, fueling better retail distribution and drawing massive media attention-all factors cited when Forrester Research revised its 2009 sales projections last month on eReaders by a stunning 50 percent.
Forrester now expects that three million eReaders will be sold in 2009 (the previous projection was two million), with 30 percent alone bouncing off the shelves during the holiday season. What’s more, for 2010, Forrester projects even more dramatic growth of eReader sales, of up to 10 million units.
The ePub move makes sense for B&N to grab market share from powerhouse Amazon. Producing books under one standard already adopted by other eReader device manufacturers is attractive to consumers. For one, consumers can transfer eBook collections across various devices, important for preserving their purchases should their manufacturer discontinue support. And, by adding password-based content protection for ePub, Adobe addresses piracy concerns, but delivers a less onerous DRM option.