Digital Book 2008 Review

Two weeks ago the IDPF held their Digital Book 2008 conference at the McGraw-Hill auditorium in Manhattan, New York City. This was a one day conference held as part of the International Digital Publishing Forum’s (IDPF) spring education series, with the main focus being on the emerging global eBook market and adoption of the ePub digital publication standard.

Among the discussions were eBook standards, international digital publishing, the education market and new innovations. Publishers Weekly reported the main theme to come from the day was that the “Customer is King”. The internet has given eBook developers and publishers “unprecedented access to consumer feedback” which they need to listen to in order to grow the eBook market.

The quoted Steve Potash (IDPF President) in saying that, he hopes the new ePub standard will spark an “explosion of adoption from all corners and all markets.” Of course, we are all hoping for this happen!

For all you Sony Reader fans, you’ll be pleased to know that at the conference, Sony demonstrated a development version of the PRS-505 reading ePub books! Although the reader has to convert the files first, this does mean you can directly send ePub files to the device. There is still no release date, but at least we now know that this will be a reality.

Although not directly at the conference itself, there was some fantastic news in support of the ePub format that was timed to coincide with Digital Book 2008. The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has taken a step in not only supporting, but also recommending the adoption of the ePub standard by publishers.

The AAP’s letter of support for ePub discusses the adoption of ePub as a consumer format, as well as an intermediary master format for conversion to propriety, device specific, formats. They state that such a transition to the ePub standard could be completed by October 2008.

This letter has caused quite a stir among the community, which makes for interesting reading.

Here is AAP’s Letter for EPUB Support from Publishers and as always, TeleRead’s David Rothman is one of the first to gives his thoughts. Also over on, Jon Noring digs up some clarification from AAP ‘s Ed McCoyd, regarding the use of ePub as a consumer format.

Andrew Savikas over at the O’Reilly TOC blog provides us with his Snarky response to the AAP, but Adobe’s Bill McCoy step’s up to defend most of what the AAP say, which is then followed by Andrew’s response.

Peter Brantley, also from the O’Reilly TOC blog, adds his own thoughts to Andrew’s snarky comments.

In this post, Peter goes on to comment about the “emphasis on a replication of the print page” and his disagreement with it. I really don’t see why there is a problem with replicating the printed page, or at least including this information within the document markup. Are not page numbers a handy, ready-made bookmark, not to mention their usefulness for academics. The presence of page numbers within the source document should not mean a ‘small screen’ reader applications must implement page breaks when they encounter them.

I’ve linked to a lot of posts here but they are all well worth the read!

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