updated 03:15 pm EDT, Mon June 13, 2011
Panasonic, Sony part of e-book alliance
Panasonic and Sony, as well as online shop operator Rakuten, agreed on Monday to work together on interoperable e-books. The step would see a joint system that would let e-books work across their devices as well as share a common platform for their stores. As portrayed by Nikkei, the common service would help keep track of e-book collections and have a web storefront.
The gesture would help reduce fragmentation in the e-book market, where hardware might use common formats like ePub but are still often isolated. A unified system would let a user switch from a Sony Reader to a Panasonic tablet without worrying that they couldn't see their earlier libraries without having to copy it over.
For the Japanese companies, it may also equate to a matter of survival. Amazon dominates e-books with nearly half of worldwide sales. Apple is still young in e-reading with its iBookstore but is growing and has a uniquely international reach. Unified e-book platforms would encourage more use of Japan-native hardware and stores.