EDITORS NOTE: This was an April Fools Day joke -- it's not real
Sony, Google and Barnes & Noble To Bring Millions of First Run Books to The Sony Reader
Dateline: San Diego, CA 9:00 PM PDT, March 31, 2009
In an astonishing move today, Sony, Google and Barnes & Noble announced that they are entering into a joint venture to make millions of first run titles available on the Sony PRS line of electronic reading devices.
This agreement is an extension of the recently announced
partnership between Sony and Google to bring Google Books' public domain collection to the Sony Reader. Where it gets really exciting is that the addition of bookseller giant Barnes & Noble to the partnership brings along all of Barnes & Nobles' existing distribution agreements with publishers for still in-copyright works.
"It's been a sort of open secret that for years we've been scanning pretty much everything we can get our hands on," said Jonathan Ipswitch, director of Content Management for Google, "we just couldn't legally share it in any form. Partnering with Barnes & Noble has given us the legal avenue to do so, and Sony's Reader is the perfect device to distribute on because it supports the open ePub format -- open is very important to us."
It's not all sunshine and roses, however: as the price of its participation, Barnes & Noble insisted that the content distributed by this new partnership would carry DRM.
"We were somewhat skeptical of this whole idea initially, I mean we only just bought Fictionwise, after all," said Jordan Andwine, recently appointed Vice President for Electronic Content Marketing at Barnes & Noble, "but with Google offering such a huge leg up on salable content and Sony providing such an excellent vehicle in their PRS devices, we really couldn't pass it up. Once it was agreed that copyrighted works would be sold with copy prevention measures in place, it was pretty much a slam dunk for us."
Another surprise in this announcement is that the partnership will not be using any existing DRM schema.
"Epub is pretty much a blank slate as far copy prevention measures go," said Nicholas Fritz, Sony's Director of Digital Security for Content, "yes, the format allows for DRM as part of the standard, but there's no specific DRM scheme specified. We decided to take the opportunity to develop a new approach to DRM that would address most of the usual objections to it. Specifically, we want users to not have to worry about whether they'll be able to read their books again later down the road. Obviously I can't go into any details at this point -- there are still patents to be filed -- but we're all really excited about the strategy we've developed here."
All concerned are being very mysterious about what sort of "new" DRM strategy they might be exploring, but now that they've mentioned it, details will surely follow before too long. If they really have come up with something that addresses the main consumer concerns about DRM, it could really be a game-changer for e-books in general.
The giant, glaringly obvious question on all this is when will this take place? Well this is apparently only a very recently reached agreement, so it will be some time before customers can purchase electronic books as a result of it. Currently, the predicted go-live date for sales will be April 1st of next year.
Whatever comes of this partnership I think it's safe to predict that it will fundamentally rock the e-reading world.
You can check here
for additional details when the press release becomes available.