Amazon has told US publishers that it will begin accepting digital files in the ePub format in the near future and will also allow users of its Kindle device to read ePub files.
Users of the Kindle have up to now only been able to use Amazon's own format, meaning they have been locked into buying e-books off the Amazon e-commerce site.
According to the Good E-Reader Blog, however: "Four publishers in the last week have confirmed that Amazon has indeed told them they now have an option to submit e-books to be listed in the Amazon store in ePub format."
In its comments section, the blog author added: "One specific company when listing off formats they were distributing left off Amazon, when asked they said Amazon was coming out with big news and they were no longer submitting books in Amazon's own proprietary format and that they would only be using ePub because of changes to the Kindle and the store."
This could be due to the Amazon/OverDrive deal with Lending books in Libraries soon though.
The development has neither been confirmed nor denied by Amazon, which doesn't seem to have been approached by the blog. If true it represents a big development towards the quest for one common standard file format, and would ease publishers' production costs as well as offering interoperability between different devices.
Commentators said the move would also allow Amazon to break into the library lending market more easily as part of its deal with OverDrive since most files available on OverDrive are in ePub. It was also suggested that the switch would mean Amazon would no longer have to maintain its own costly format, and could take advantage of any further developments in ePub, particularly ePub3, which will allow publishers to make enhancements to their digital files.