Kobo to Fully Support EPUB 3 by Third-Quarter 2013

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Kobo is aiming to have its e-reading software fully support the EPUB 3 ebook programming language by the third-quarter of 2013, according to Jim Dovey, EPUB content formats evangelist at Kobo.

“Kobo is aiming to be the first company to support all of EPUB3,” said Dovey, speaking on a panel about digital rights management technology at the Copyright and Technology 2012 conference in New York. “The aim is as soon as humanly possible. But that’s largely where we’re aiming [third-quarter 2013].”

Currently, no major ebook retailer’s e-reading software supports all the features of EPUB 3, the new standard ebook programming language developed and supported by the International Digital Publishing Forum, a trade and standards association for the publishing industry. Publishers may be trying to change that.

Most recently, Hachette announced that by March 2013 all of its new books would be in EPUB 3 format. The company said at the time that its goal was to encourage ebook retailers to support the language.

What’s at stake for publishers and the entire publishing ecosystem is interoperability of files. If EPUB 3 becomes a standard that a majority of retailers representing a majority market share of ebook sales and readers adopt the standard, that would simplify ebook production and distribution for publishers. It would also theoretically allow users to buy a file from one retailer and use it on the device of another.

While Kobo has a relatively small market share for ebooks in the U.S., it is the market share leader in Canada and is thought to be a market share leader in several other countries.

Companies like Apple and Amazon have an incentive not to adopt full support for EPUB 3. These companies have created compelling businesses that thrive in part by not allowing users to access their digital content purchases outside of the Amazon or Apple ecosystems using proprietary file formats.

Publishers may try to force their hand. According to Dovey, “There are publishers who are going EPUB 3 only across the board in January. We’ve had to ensure our EPUB 3 support works across the board.”

Learn more about what’s at stake when it comes to EPUB 3, DRM and many other acronyms at Digital Book World 2013!

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