Has Barnes & Noble Changed Its e-Book Format to ePUB?

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The e-book industry is definitely moving to the standard ePUB format, which is a good thing for consumers who want to use purchased digital content in any way they see fit. As good for the consumer a standard format is, it is imperative that e-book retailers make the move to a new format in an open way so consumers can take that into consideration. Barnes & Noble may have secretly switched from its proprietary PDB format to ePUB recently, and those who have discovered it are concerned that owners of lots of PDB format content may get left in the lurch.

The suspicion set in when a B&N customer bought an e-book recently, expecting it to be in the PDB format as always. He reads the content on his Palm device, and PDB is the only format that works. Instead the purchased e-book was in the new (for B&N) ePUB format, making it worthless to the purchaser.

There are two eReader programs the company supplies, the Barnes & Noble reader that is only available on a few platforms and the eReader Pro app that works on quite a few platforms. The eReader Pro app only works with the old PDB format e-books, and it is beginning to look like the B&N eReader app will only work with ePUB. That begins to confuse the entire issue, and company web sites are giving no indication that the content format has changed. These situations where long-time customers buy content, only to discover it is a new format that can’t be used, are likely to get more common. We’ll see if we can get some clarity from B&N on what is going on. I own almost 500 titles in the PDB format and I am getting concerned about the viability of this library down the road.

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