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Book alliance

E-books are brill, and we love our Kindle. But for users of devices other than Amazon's famous e-reader - like the many Sony and Panasonic devices, for example - buying books is a complex business, with all the different manufacturers pushing different e-book stores. Although there's a basic format the many devices all use for e-books, ePub, their stores add DRM which only lets you play, for example, books from Sony's store on Sony devices.

No more. Alarmed at the dominance which Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble's Nook and Apple's iBooks program have obtained in the market, mainstream electronics companies including Sony and Panasonic have decided to work together. They've just announced they're developing a joint system which would make their eBooks compatible with each other's devices. That doesn't mean you'll be reading Kindle books on your Sony reader, but you might be able to read Panasonic's on it.

Don't hold your breath - this might take a few months to come to fruition, it seems, and might not work with existing devices, only future ones. Still, any sanity that can be brought to the increasingly fractured e-reader market sounds good to us.

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