Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

publishers: please cooperate!

Jacqui Cheng:

There are already several open e-book formats out there — ePub and MobiPocket are just a couple. The major e-book devices even support them; with a little bit of effort, you can get an ePub version of a book onto your Kindle or iPad in no time. The problem is the “effort” part—e-book sellers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple heavily market their own stores and make it even easier for customers to simply buy the proprietary formats.

The downside, of course, is that customers are then locked into specific formats and devices. As noted in a recent Reuters piece, a Kindle book may be readable on a Kindle app on the iPad, but it’s still limited to the Kindle “universe” — other devices that lack Kindle apps won’t be able to handle those formats, and vice versa.

“Our fondest wish is that all the devices become agnostic so that there isn’t proprietary formats and you can read wherever you want to read,” Penguin Group CEO David Shanks told Reuters. “First we have to get a standard that everybody embraces.”

Some believe the industry itself needs to get its act together before pointing fingers at Amazon or Apple. “Indeed, there are several open formats, but the problem is that they still need work,” self-published author Cesar Torres told Ars. Torres believes that if publishers worked together to get behind a particular open format, the format would improve and device makers would be more motivated to offer wider support.

“The problem still lies with publishing houses and their inability to talk to one another. Everyone is doing their own thing without any regard for readers or customers,” Torres said. “Apple and Amazon would be toast if publishers really got their act together.”

2 comments:

  • Michael Straight said...

    I thought that almost all book readers could read HTML files, TXT files, and PDF files?

    Oh, I'm sorry. You meant a standard format that supports DRM? Like how the record companies got behind AAC (er, WMV? OpenMG?) and replaced the MP3 format?

  • Yep, that's what they mean. Hope springs eternal, don't it?

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