Adobe Expanding Investment in Digital Publishing

As part of a restructuring announced yesterday, Adobe has made the decision to expand its investment in digital publishing, creating a new organization focused on delivering products to increase digital revenue opportunities for book, newspaper and magazine publishers. This organization will combine the efforts of Adobe’s eBook business responsible for the Adobe Reader Mobile SDK, Adobe Content Server, Adobe Digital Editions, and PDF and EPUB authoring support in Adobe InDesign with Adobe’s digital newspaper and magazine efforts responsible for, among other products, the collaboration with the New York Times to create the AIR-based Times Reader 2.0.

The decision to increase investment in this area underscores the importance that Adobe has always given to digital publishing as well as the bright future it sees in helping publishers to deliver compelling digital publications that support a variety of business models: subscription, advertising, retail and other emerging models. We are particularly excited about what we have in store for 2010. We plan to further our reach to emerging mobile reading platforms to allow readers to read anywhere, on any device. With Adobe’s acquisition of Omniture, we will help publishers measure and understand how their readership interacts with and uses their content. But, most of all, we will continue to deliver products that make digital books, newspapers and magazines a terrific experience for readers.

We look forward to working with our existing customers and business partners and welcome any new inquiries as we continue our progress in digital publishing.

One Response to Adobe Expanding Investment in Digital Publishing

  1. Mike Perry says:

    That’s good news! The lack of solid ebook support is why I’m taking a pass on InDesign CS5. I don’t need Flash. I don’t want Flash. I need and want a way to create high quality digital books for Apple, B&N, Ingram Digital and (yes) Amazon. Add that capability to ID CS 5.5, release it early next year, and I’d buy it in an instant.

    Personally I don’t see how Adobe can create a world class ebook application out of InDesign. ID is a page layout program. There are no fixed pages in digital books. ID deals marvelously with frames. The current digital book formats don’t understand frames at all. All text and graphics are part of one long flow. To make ID do both would be like trying to adapt a semi for sports car racing.

    Adobe should create an application that can import an ID document, recognizing the meaning of different parts, and create a new document that’s pageless and frameless. There simply has to be a new application, one that not only understands ebooks in general, but understands the varieties of specific ebook hardware: small screens and large, color and black an white.

    Adobe application designers need to keep in mind an important fact. Digital output is radically different from paper output. It’s impossible to create a single look to an ebook that will work for every size display from an iPhone to a Kindle/iPad. What works for one size will be woefully inadequate for another. That’s one reason why developers creating dual-platform applications for iPhones and iPads have to create a different UI for each.

    The same has to be true for digital books. Design and layout applications have to be smart enough to specify how a book will look on different sizes and sorts of displays. And keep in mind that, without that, there’s no need for book designers and thus little need for Adobe products. Anyone can create a book that’s simply a long text flow whose font and font size is determined by the users and whose graphics are simply inserted, willy nilly, into that text flow. It takes no talent to create something ugly.

    For now, I suspect that the smarts will have to reside in the creating application, much as web-creating applications in the mid-to-late nineties had to adapt to all the various incompatible browsers. The smarts will have to reside there because the current digital readers are so stupid.

    Eventually, however, digital book readers will acquire the smarts to adapt a more powerful and universal digital book format to their own display, taking into account instructions from the ebook’s layout designer. Take graphics as an example. One of the great failings of print books is that a graphic has to be on one page even if readers need to constantly consult it for the next five pages. With digital books, a designer could specify, where the display size is large enough, that the graphic will display in the upper-right corner for all text between point x and point y. For smaller displays, that graphic would become a thumbnail, opening when tapped, closing and returning to the text being read when tapped again.

    It’s those sorts of things that will make digital books something useful enough to be adopted as a ‘better than’ replacement for paper books. I for one can’t understand the current excitement for EPUB and Amazon formats that are so wimpy, they can’t properly handle any text more complicated that a novel. The sad fact is that most of the books I’ve created and laid out simply can’t be recreated in the current ebook formats. Current digital book standards simply aren’t up to what typesetters could do with paper a century and more ago.