Frankfurt 2009 & the rise of Digital

I’ve had a crazy old time since I returned home from the Frankfurt Book Fair last week so this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write a little about my time there, and an interesting time it was.

I again had the pleasure of having lunch with IDPF Executive Director, Michael Smith. There was no real agenda, it was just a chance for us to have a good chin-wag about ePub, how things are moving for the format and such other things. This year the IDPF held three sessions but due to my day job duties in London I only managed to attend one of his sessions; missing what I’m sure was an extremely interesting ‘EPUB Update and Tweaks and Tricks for EPUB on Devices’ session presented by Keith Fahlgren from O’Reilly – I’m wholey dissapointed about that.

Still, I did manage to attend the ‘New and Updated eBook Reading Devices’ which was rather interesting.

For this session there were four speakers; Michaël Dahan (Bookeen), Neelan Choksi (Lexcycle Stanza), Willem Endhoven (iRex Technologies) and finally Richard Siegersma (ECO Reader). All the speakers had some interesting things to say but a couple of points stuck out.

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New EPUB eBook Reader to be sold in Argos…Cool!

Although news on the release of the COOL-ER eBook reader isn’t new, what is interesting is that the makers have struck a deal to sell this in the Argos stores.

For those of you who are not from the UK, Argos are a household name — if a Brit hasn’t bought from Argos, you know their neighbour has!

The BookSeller.com article also states that the COOL-ER book store has 3/4 million titles (although not all in the ePub format).

I don’t have a one of these readers myself – I can’t justify spending £189 when I already have a Sony 505 – but as it uses the Adobe Digital Editions, any ePub books you download from epubBooks.com or buy from one of the many book stores around, should render the same as they do on the Sony Reader.

For me, the importance of this Argos/COOL-ER deal shows that eBooks (including the ePub variety) and the digital readers for viewing them are finally entering the mainstream.

There are currently 17 Adobe EPUB eBook Readers

I was just over at Bill McCoy’s blog (Adobe) reading his latest post about the current number of dedicated eBook readers which support the Adobe DRM’d EPUB format. Of course there are a number of other reading devices, such as the iPhone that can read non-DRM EPUB eBooks, but it is still surprising how many there actually are.

The Adobe Digital Edition Devices page has a little more details on each but here’s a very quick run down;

  • EZ Reader
  • EZ Reader Pocket Pro
  • Mentor
  • BeBook One
  • BeBook Mini
  • Cybook Gen3
  • Cybook Opus
  • Cool-er
  • Elonex eBook
  • Hanlin V5
  • Hanlin V3
  • iRex Digital Reader 1000S
  • NUUT2
  • Sony Reader PRS-300
  • Sony Reader PRS-505
  • Sony Reader PRS-600
  • Sony Reader PRS-700

Have you heard of all these?

Bill himself seems suprised, saying, “this is faster take-up than even this optimist had hoped for, given our launch less than six months ago of the enabling Adobe Reader Mobile 9 SDK that’s been integrated into all of these products.”

Whether you believe DRM is right or wrong, the positive side of this is that we are seeing more vendors supporting the one eBook format.

We are however still waiting to see if the Amazon Kindle’s will start supporting EPUB; will they use their own DRM – will they use any DRM at all. Let us also not forget Apple, what formats will they support on their upcoming tablet.