Archive for October, 2006

Loving Paper And Saving the Planet

Another very scary article about CO2 emissions and global warming , this time in the Herald (U.K.). While there are a host of things we should do to mitigate the impact of human-induced climate change, working to increase digital content delivery is one of the no-brainers. Paper products consume 40% of landfill space, and tremendous amounts of resources and energy go into paper production and printing, and the transportation of paper-based information. Of course some energy and therefore resources are expended transmitting a megabyte of bits over the Internet – but many orders of magnitude less than printing and trucking around the several pounds of paper book those bits can replace.
We can love paper books all we want. I certainly do. But most of the people on the planet simply can’t afford them. And per the Herald article, in the long run neither can the rest of us. Creating highly usable, compelling experiences for digital reading and, over time, replacing a significant portion of current paper consumption with digital consumption, is simply one of our “must do’s”.

Open eBook Standards Advance

Today the IDPF announced the completion of OCF 1.0, the single-file container packaging specification. With a record 88 members, IDPF includes a broad cross-section of publishers, vendors, service providers, and library and learning insitutions. The super-majority vote to elevate OCF represents strong incremental progress towards ending the “Tower of eBabel” of incompatible proprietary eBook formats. With PDF for final-form paginated publications and XHTML (now with OCF packaging) for reflow-centric content publishers can address all their requirements via broadly-adopted open standards.
Adobe’s new Digital Editions publishing platform supports the forthcoming OEBPS profile of XHTML with OCF, as mentioned in the IDPF press release. In addition last week Adobe also announced a technology preview of Project Mars, which is developing an XML representation of PDF. The single-file packaging for Mars is based on IDPF OCF, and the page contents description is based on W3C SVG, which the IDPF OEBPS WG is working to support within the eBook profile of XHTML.
While Mars is still at an early stage, the prospect of a single container format and XML-friendly standards-based representation for both paginated PDF and “liquid” XHTML based content is a very promising development.
The bandwagon of convergence to broadly-adopted open standards for digital publishing is definitely rolling! I strongly encourage anyone pushing NIH-driven alternative formats to put their egos, spite and vested interests aside and actively participate in the IDPF community process. I also encourage any content publishers considering adopting non-standard formats to beware: despite the rhetoric, these look to make the “Tower of eBabel” even worse, and could represent a costly cul-de-sac.

Digital Editions live on Adobe Labs

Adobe Digital Editions, an all-new application for reading and managing eBooks and other digital publications, was announced today and is live on Adobe Labs website. Free eBooks are also available.
I’m incredibly excited about the future of Publishiing 2.0. A lot more to come. Our whole team will be hanging out on the user forum on the Labs site, at least once they catch up on their sleep after a long weekend of work to make this release, so send your cards and letters there, be they roses or brickbats.

Newspapers Survival

Tremendously thoughtful article by the editor of the Roanoke Times, Mike Riley (in the Harvard Journalism School’s journal).
Newspapers are widely considered the most endangered of any segment of traditional publishing. But absolutely no hangdog attitude here: the positivity with which these guys have embraced the digital publishing revolution is incredibly refreshing. To reinvent newspaper they realized they “need to split the word ‘newspaper’ apart and realize that it’s the ‘news’ that’s most important and not the ‘paper.'” This is the kind of constructive and forward-thinking mindset we all should be striving for to make “Publishing 2.0″ a reality [via Peter Brantley]. Heck if newspapers can reinvent themselves, despite the intense pressure from TV, online news, and Google, there’s absolutely not excuse not to think positively in reinventing trade, magazine and textbook publishing too.