Originally Posted by icebear
do you think there will ever be a universal format? frankly i think the publishers are hurting themselves in some ways. i could easily drop a lot of money all at once if all ebooks were available in one, guaranteed usable format.
ePub is being pushed by Adobe as the universal format of the future. Seeing how well PDF caught on, I think it's a good possibility to be a universal format, except that Amazon has such incredible strength in the marketplace that it may hold out and decide not to jump on any other bandwagon than its own.
And without Amazon as a sales outlet, it's no wonder that many publishers are treading lightly in the ebook marketplace.
As for free books for the Sony Reader, manybooks.net has 22,000 free books, all available in many different formats including Sony, and Munseys also has a huge library available.
Then there is the basic source for most of these free books -- Project Gutenberg itself. You can either download books from PG which have been formatted by others, at this forum, or you can download the originals in HTML or in TXT format and then decide whether you want to do additional formatting or simply read them as TXT files on the reader.
There is a Word macro which will strip away the single HardReturns in the PG files but keeps the double hardreturns used between paragraphs, and for those who don't use Word there is a program at the yahoogroups for the Librie which will do the same thing quickly and efficiently, allowing you to open the file, format it and then save it again all in just a few mouse clicks.
I've found that reading .TXT files this way is perfectly fine although with the huge explosion in free books formatted for the Reader, I tend to download those and only keep the TXT files for those books which haven't been converted.