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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.
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    Monday, September 17, 2007

    e-Book Standards (yes, in the plural)

    The Register had an amusing item on Saturday: Adobe captures ebook standard. What now?, which tells the story behind the new 'standard' format for e-books. You really need to read the original article, but New York-located International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) announced about 6 months ago that agreement had been reached on a new electronic books standard. This format, .epub, was to be an XML-based, multi-device, and reflowable universal format, which would also support PDF.
    Adobe says its Digital Editions and InDesign will read and create .epub... It may be worth mentioning, there is one gold sponsor of the IDPF, Adobe, and the IDPF's sole employee, has announced he's leaving the position. To go work at Adobe.
    Meanwhile, Amazon is launching it's own e-book reader - the Kindle - in October, which is linked to Mobipocket - probably the largest e-book seller around.
    Mobi also figured out years ago the wisdom of not charging for software that creates ebooks in its format, and converting anything from Word Documents to simple HTML to PDF (Mobi will support .epub as an input...eventually).
    So we have at least one other de facto standard, and not a lot of reason to worry about the .epub format.

    Addendum (some 8 hours later):
    Teleread reports:

    Greg Newby, CEO of Project Gutenberg, says he’s open to creation of .epub files on the fly, via the main Gutenberg site. And he is also willing to consider links to sites that store IDPF-standard files in ready-to-go form.

    At the same time, however, Greg writes on a Gutenberg list that he needs convincing evidence that .epub will indeed be an open, honest standard without gotchas coming in from Adobe or any other company. He’ll also need the right software tools—free and open source.

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