O’Reilly to start selling ePub Books!

Today over on the O’Reilly TOC, Andrew Savikas made an annoucment that from July 2008, O’Reilly will release a selection of their catalogue as a DRM-Free eBook bundle. This will include a PDF, Kindle-compatible Mobipocket and yes, an ePub format version! Not only are they giving you three for the price of one, but these will also be DRM-Free eBooks (they are considering a form of social DRM.)

Although they are still working on the ePub versions, any PDF eBook you buy now will make you eligible for free access to the ePub version once it is released. For the moment this is only an experiment, but if It works out, they plan to release their whole catalogue in these formats (barring a few with copyright restrictions and some old ones that present at format-conversion challenge.)

This is not a snap decision, as Andrew explains;

While we would have liked to make these ebooks available sooner, we felt it was important to first contribute to building some of the tools needed for other publishers to follow our lead, such as enhancements to the open-source DocBook XSL stylesheets, which can now generate EPUB from DocBook XML source files.

The full list has not yet been released, but Andrew does provide us with a sample;

  • iPhone: The Missing Manual
  • Windows Vista: The Missing Manual
  • Facebook: The Missing Manual
  • Making Things Happen
  • Open Sources 2.0
  • The Art of Agile Development
  • Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, 3ed

Alas none of these are of interest to myself, but I’m eagerly awaiting to see what else they will have on offer.

One problem O’Reilly has is that the content they produce, “relies heavily on computer code and complex tables — two types of content that are not rendered well on most of today’s ebook readers.” The ‘code blocks’ they need to include rely on monospace fonts. Let’s hope the Kindle and other readers recieve the updates needed to make O’Reilly’s life much easier.

With these three formats, customers should be able to read the books with most current ebook software and devices, including Adobe Digital Editions, Kindle, Blackberries, and Sony Reader…

Today O’Reilly have thrown down the guantlet to all the other publishers, DRM-Free ePub books…wow!

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