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.
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Adobe release Digital Editions 1.5 – with enhanced DRM flexibility

Adobe Digital Editions has been updated with enhanced DRM support and flexibility, now at version 1.5. Adobe DE is a Flash based, lightweight, internet application used for reading PDF’s and the IDPF’s ePub document formats.

The enhancements to their DRM means that users activate their DRM protection on a named basis, this allows you to move your protected eBooks/eDocuments across platforms and mobile devices, of course we’d rather not have any DRM (or at least just social DRM). There is also a limit of 6 desktop and 6 handheld devices that you can activate, which should be okay for most people in the short term but over a period of several years we are likely to need to activate more devices than this, particlarly if we have to re-format our OS. We shall have to see what the future holds for those needing to activate more devices.
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TEI Converter for EPUB Developers

We are seeing more and more tools for creating ePub files being developed and the latest to join the throng is the tei2epub converter from This one however is aimed more for developers than the end user, unlike the BookGlutton ePub API.

tei2epub is being developed by Liza Daly and is written in XSLT, although it does utilise a little Python. I know nothing about Python but from what I can make out this is mainly for creating the actual files and final .epub container (which is actually just a renamed .zip file).

This converter really interests me as I already have my own converter (pg2tei) for creating TEI documents from plain text files, as found on Project Gutenberg. I recently started teaching myself XSLT so will follow the development of this for sure!

I don’t have a Python processor installed so haven’t ran any files through this, though I have taken a quick look at the source code and it looks quite straight forward. I believe this uses the official stylesheets written by TEI, so the tei2epub converter should be quite simple to follow, even for those of us whose XSLT skills are not yet well developed.

If you’re interested in both TEI and ePub then this is certainly going to be useful to add to your toolkit.

BookGlutton’s EPUB Converter unveiled

Earlier this month BookGlutton announced their ePub API. This neat little tool gives everyone an easy way to convert HTML files to the IDPF’s ePub format.

At present the API is in public beta and currently only converts ‘simple’ HTML files, it also lacks both image and CSS support. Still, don’t let this put you off, the potential here is great and is certainly another step in the right direction. As time goes by the API will certainly get better.

To show the kind of acceptence ePub is gaining this tool also caught the attention Keith Fahrlgren over at the O’Reilly Tools of Change Blog who certainly seems encouraged by this and feels that it is “the first step in lowering the barrier to entry to creating EPUB documents.”

Many other people around the net have shown a strong interest in the API, with most believing this is a first step in encouraging developers to create more ePub tools.

If you wish to try it out yourself go visit the BookGlutton ePup API page, there’s also some instructions there to help get you started. is active again!

It may only have been three weeks since last had my own internet connection but boy, is it good to be back! Of course the world of ePub caught fire right when I was not been able to report on it.

These past weeks has seen the introduction of a new ePub converter from BookGlutton, the IDPF Digital Book 2008 conference and release of Adobe Digital Editions 1.5, which from the reports has marked improvements, Mac OSX support and has been localised into French and German.

There’s more news of publishers wanting to release their content in the ePub format (let’s see if it really happens) and we are now seeing dedicated eBook readers released on a regular basis. There’s also another eBook reader available for the iPhone.

At Digital Book 2008, Sony demonstrated working ePub books on their PRS-505 and it seems that Mobipocket Desktop 6.2 handles ePub files – rumour has it that the next version will also create ePub files! is here to bring together all and any news related to ePub and eBooks, although some of you may have read this news elsewhere, I will still be writing several articles to cover all the latest happenings. Make sure you check back regular.

Hopefully by the end of the week I will have the site fully up-to-date.

Quiet? Not for too long…

This announcement is to let you know that over the coming weeks there will be very few updates to the site.

I recently moved apartments and it will be a few more weeks before I can get an internet connection fixed up. For now I have to limit myself to doing basic email and maintenance during my lunch break, which is usually no more than half an hour a day.

On the weekends I will be online for an hour or two while having a coffee at the local San Francisco Coffee shop down in Ostbahnhof (Munich). Perhaps I might be able to add an article or two then.

Once I am back online I’m going to start updating the site much more regular.

Thanks for your Patience.

Mike Cook

Did you attend DB2008 today?

The one day IDPF Digital Book 2008 Conference is being held today in New York City, which is being sponsored by the likes of Adobe, OverDrive and Resetta.

Alas I did not have the opportunity to go myself but I will be on the lookout for any news or blog posts on the days events. Particularly on the seminars Publisher Experience and Workflow using the new IDPF “EPUB” Standard and eBook Reading Devices and Software.

If there is anyone out there who attended the conference and would like to share their thoughts on the day, for inclusion here on ePub Books, please contact me via the Contact page.

New DAISY Pipeline Released

DAISY have announced a new release of their DAISY Pipeline, which now adds support for the Microsoft “Save As DAISY XML” transformer add-in, designed for Microsoft Office Word 2007, Word 2003 and Word XP.

Along with adding support for the add-in they have made a number of usability and performance improvements and also included an ePub/OPS validator.

For those who don’t know, ePub documents can include either XHTML or DAISY DTBook files natively. A DAISY DTB is most often used to make content accessible for blind and print-disabled individuals but can also be used as a master file for conversion into other formats, which is where the pipeline will come in handy for anyone wanting to create ePub books using DTB rather than XHTML.

The DAISY Pipeline is not for the faint-hearted but if you are serious about ePub and creating documents/eBooks accessible to print-disabled users, then this could be a very useful tool indeed.

Waterstones in the UK to stock the Sony Reader

Good news for all British Sony Reader (PRS-505) fans! According to, it’s believed Waterstones have signed a deal with Sony to stock the Reader when it is released the in the UK later this year.

As a Brit myself this is great news. I bought my Reader from the U.S. in December 2006 but have to live with reading public domain titles or buying PDF versions from sites such as and so fighting with Sony’s inferior PDF viewing quality. Let’s hope once it’s released I’ll be able to use their services, even though my Sony is a U.S. model.

It looks like eBook readers are going to have a good time this year in the UK, I’m sure the rest of Europe won’t be too far behind for Sony or the Amazon Kindle.

Although we’re still waiting for Adobe’s Digital Editions to be released for the Sony Reader, once this happens, all those ePub titles being released by Penguin and HarperCollins will give Sony’s PRS-505 a huge boost over the Amazon Kindle. No doubt Amazon are aware of this so let’s hope they react and make the Kindle read the ePub format natively.

Harper Collins UK to release titles as EPUB

Hot on the heels of Penguin’s announcement, Harper Collins UK now have plans to release their titles in both print and eBook format this coming September. Thanks to Graeme Neil’s article over at for uncovering this excellent piece of news.

According to his article, Victoria Barnsley, HC UK C.E.O., says that HC is also looking in to clearing the rights to release their 2,500 title back catalogue, ready for this autumn.

If you’ve any doubts that EPUB will not become the eBook standard then you should take note of these movements within the industry – EPUB is certainly getting some influential backing. It looks to me that the book [and music] industry are finally listening to their customers? Let’s hope the trend continues!

It’s great that publishers are moving over to the EPUB format but perhaps we can also help it along a little more. Why not start converting public domain titles to this eBook format? This will certainly encourage reader applications to be written, and the more eReaders there are, the more people will want EPUB eBooks!

I’m working toward creating conversion scripts to create EPUB files myself, which I’ll talk more about in the future.

Keep your eyes on as I’ll be trying to bring together more resources and tutorials to help you in creating EPUB documents.