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Old 07-24-2008, 12:04 AM   #1
NatCh
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Post PRS505 Firmware update: epub, DE, and reflow -- oh my!

With New PRS505 Firmware, Sony Adds Support for ePub, Digital Editions, and PDF Reflow


Yesterday morning Alexander, Bob and I were invited to participate in a conference call with the Vice President of Sony’s Audio Group, Brennan Mullin, and the Sony Reader Team’s Valerie Motis. Today, we provide the MobileRead community with the breaking story first!

We have all been looking forward to a possible firmware upgrade for about five months now. Some have speculated that the reason we haven’t already seen one might be due to Sony taking the time to add epub and DE support into the mix. While this will come as no surprise to those who have been closely following the Reader’s UK release story, I can now confirm that this particular speculation seems to have proved out: the new firmware (available sometime today, July 24th) will include support for both epub and Adobe’s Digital Editions. It will also include support for PDF reflow, which is something we’ve long been looking for. As an extra added bonus, the new firmware will support DE’s DRM system for both epub and PDF. However you may feel about DRM, this support for it, along with PDF reflow, means that all those PDF e-books available from many public libraries are now in play on the Reader for the first time, so dust off those library cards, folks!

Quote:
Starting next month, new Readers model PRS-505, will be able to access and accept secure and non-secure ebooks in the EPUB format. EPUB has gained acceptance among major trade book publishers, many of whom have committed to begin publishing forthcoming ebooks in the format.
Additionally, the device will support Adobe eBooks with digital rights management and have the capability to reflow standard text-based Portable Document Format (PDF) eBooks for improved flexibility and readability. These enhancements are now made possible with the support of Adobe Digital Editions 1.5 software, which is available as a free download at www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions.
Some nitty gritty details, now: the download of the new firmware and PC software should be available here some time on the morning of the 24th (from that page you’ll need to search for PRS505 to find it, there’s no reliable direct link at the moment). It’s still only Windows compatible, unfortunately, but this new 1.5 version of DE is supposed to support moving files directly from it onto the Reader, so that’s an extra boon for those who prefer not to use Sony’s eBook Library software.

While we’re on the topic of things it won’t do, you may have noticed the lack of mention of the PRS500. Sadly, this particular update does not work on the 500. We did specifically ask about future support of epub, DE, PDF reflow on the 500 and the answer was that they were still looking into it. Reading between the lines, we came away with the impression that it isn’t likely to happen.

PRS500 owners, I share your pain, I have my own trusty 500 right here beside me as I type this, and it looks so forlorn.

However, there are some optimistic signs that Sony is committed to this e-reading business, in general. The addition of epub and DE support means that they’re signing on to support an open format that looks to have an increasingly good shot at becoming a de facto industry standard. Many publishers are committing to using it for e-book sales, a few vendors have already started selling in it, and now there is a dedicated reading device that supports it. Very exciting stuff for those who have lived in the land of e-Babel for so long. I also take it as a sign that Sony cares more about supporting the Reader hardware, rather than being primarily focused on selling e-books. There’s no word so far as to whether the Sony eBookstore will ever sell epub format e-books, nor if they would offer re-downloads of existing purchases in that format if they did ... but we did get a plug in for that idea.

New units will begin shipping with the updated firmware installed soon (presumably there will be a few units with the old stuff for a bit), and starting next month SonyStyle will have an exclusive, limited edition Red PRS505 -- for those who have been hoping for a bit more color: there you go.

Touching back on the U.K. launch: while the firmware may differ in some respects (they have to get all those extra vowels in there somehow, you know), the U.K. hardware will be the same as the U.S./Canada hardware.

We’d like to offer a word of thanks to Sony for giving us a chance to talk with them, and for sharing this news with us.

The full Press Release is on Sony’s site here.

Posted on behalf of Bob, Alex and myself, on account of my being in the "latest" time zone.
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