NEW YORK (Reuters) – Giants and upstarts of publishing gathered at the annual BookExpo America here last week agreed e-books will transform the business but believe the big change will come when there is a standard format across which all e-books can be published and shared.
The industry has been going through a tumultuous period as Apple and Amazon duke it out for dominance in the nascent market for electronic books.
Both want their devices — the iPad and the Kindle — to be the one consumers use to read e-books, and each wants to be the biggest virtual store were such content is sold.
For Michael Serbinis, chief executive of Kobo, a company that allows users to buy e-books and read them on most devices, that battle is a distraction to the real changes coming.
“Today you can buy a book at Barnes and Noble and you can buy a book at Walmart and you don’t have to keep them in separate rooms in your house,” he said. “You buy a book from Apple and Amazon and you have got to keep it tied up with your Apple universe or your Kindle universe.”
Ultimately, consumers want freedom, said David Shanks, chief executive of leading publisher Penguin Group USA.
“Our fondest wish is that all the devices become agnostic so that there isn’t proprietary formats and you can read wherever you want to read,” Shanks told Reuters. “First we have to get a standard that everybody embraces.”
The issue, he said, is the fear of piracy and how to set a common digital rights management system to thwart it.
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