Adoption of the EPUB format is gaining momentum, as several major publishing houses have already begun transmitting their documents in this manner. Hachette Book Group released EPUB e-books for sale in January, and John Wiley & Sons’ in-house staff recently began producing the company’s branded titles (e.g., “Frommers” and “For Dummies”) in the EPUB format, while its non-branded titles are produced by a third-party conversion house.
Perhaps the real tipping point came on May 12 when the IDPF received a letter of support from the AAP’s EPUB subcommittee of its Digital Issues Working Group. The letter expressed “support for the use of EPUB as an e-book file type for reflowable texts from which any e-book delivery format can be rendered. Many publishers already want to begin a transition process toward this use of the EPUB file format and hope that such a transition can be completed by October 2008.”
The Digital Library Federation (DLF), a consortium of libraries and related agencies in support of the use of electronic-information technologies, has also gotten behind EPUB. Peter Brantley, DLF’s executive director, says, “It is my belief that a transition to more interactive, reflowable content formats, such as the IDPF’s EPUB format, is almost inevitable.” He adds that the adoption of such a format provides a number of advantages including a wider range of end-user control (from font size to spoken text services) and the ability for text formats to be tethered to devices such as the Kindle or iPhone, while being maintained on central servers.
E-books in Libraries
Libraries have been e-book innovators since the late 1990s, using services such as NetLibrary, ebrary and Overdrive to make e-books available to patrons on library Web sites. Because libraries have such limited shelf space for physical books, e-books are a good option for keeping collections vast and authoritative while not having to invest in acquiring more rooms or buildings.
Laura Dawson is CEO of Numerical Gurus, LLC, consulting company providing services to the information, librarym and book industries. Dawson has consulted to numerous organizations in these verticals, primarily focusing on solving problems related to metadata, identifiers, Linked Data, semantic web applications, and structured content.