Matt Jukes’ Backpass blog has alerted me to news that Amazon are looking to release two new versions of their e-reader. One will have the same screen size as the existing design but a new, cleaner design and the other will have a much larger screen. There are rumours as to whether the larger screen version might be aimed at students, who will be able to store electronic versions of the bulky textbooks they currently have to lug around.
Although Kindle is not available in the UK, it is likely to arrive sometime in the next year or so. Sony’s e-reader, Sony Reader, arrives here in September and the iRex’s iLiad has been available for a few months. One of the big issues that potential buyers will need to think about is that there is a lot of manoeuvring in the market around standards.
Work is underway on an open, XML-based standard called EPUB through an organisation called International Digital Publishing Forum. The other key standard is PDF, which is very widely used for electronic documents and is now an ISO international standard. Sony’s reader supports PDF and the company has just announced that they will support EPUB in a forthcoming e-reader. By contrast, Kindle only supports Amazon’s own standards MobiPocket and AZW. It does not support Adobe’s PDF although it provides an ‘experimental’ converter. The iLiad supports PDF and Mobipocket.
You can read more about the emerging debate over e-book standards on the recently launched JISC TechWatch blog which I write for. Suffice to say though that in the market place, the battle lines have been drawn.