Book Business Extra Q&A—Nick Bogaty, executive director of the International Digital Publishing Forum
The Executive Director of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) Nick Bogaty speaks with Book Business Extra about the International Digital Publishing Forum’s (IDPF) work to help standardize digital publishing. In late November, the trade association joined forces with the Association of American Publishers (AAP) to help educate book publishers on the background of the new industrywide technical standards IDPF is introducing for digital content delivery.
Book Business Extra: From what you saw at November’s meeting at the AAP, how are book publishers catching on to the standardization of eBooks?
Nick Bogaty: Publishers, especially trade publishers, have long created their XML eBooks in Open e-book (OEB) format. OEB was first released by the IDPF (then Open eBook Forum) in 1999. That latest version 1.2 was released in 2002. There are tens of thousand of eBooks in OEB now, and production of this XML format is pretty ingrained in the workflows of trade publishers and some academic publishers. OEB is largely used now as an interchange format to export to end consumer proprietary formats. Publishers basically hold their XML OEB files in a database and convert as necessary to final delivery formats.
The current standards efforts in the IDPF with the Open eBook Publication Structure Container (OCF) and the next version of OEB—named OPS or Open Publication Structure—is for publishers to be able to send one package into distribution, which implemented reading systems would either “light-out” convert, that is without human intervention, into an end-consumer proprietary format or simply read the OPS file natively in their software—much as your iPod would “read” MP3 files.
What were some of the questions raised by the publishers who attended?
Bogaty: There were a number of questions about reading system implementations of the specs. Mobipocket, Adobe and eBook Technologies Inc. demonstrated passing an OPS file in an OCF container between reading systems. All three reading systems natively read the file and displayed it aka cross-platform interoperability.
We also showed at the AAP how to simply create an OCF file in WINZIP. Very simple and very effective.
Why do you think consumers are more likely to be receptive to e-books now than they were when the technology was first introduced?
Bogaty: Increased selection because it is easier and less expensive for publishers to convert their catalogs to digital form because of our specs. Increased interoperability because of standards efforts. Better devices and screen technology. Better software. To name a couple of reasons.
What further work does the IDPF have to do to spread the technical standards throughout the book publishing industry? What concerns are opponents to the standardization bringing forward?
Bogaty: We need to continue to produce standards that are both good for publishers and technology companies to continue to lower costs of production for publishers, and increase flexibility and good user experiences for consumers.
Both OCF and OPS will do this. A specific task is for the IDPF to show textbook publishers and other digital text publishers (newspapers for example) that OPS can be used to mark up complex publications. OPS is also National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) compliant, so this will give an extra boost to K-12 publishers to seriously look at these standards. We also need to address metadata issues and digital rights management interoperability.
When will we see the OCF standard incorporated into the workflow of the participating publishers?
Bogaty: It is already. OCF files can be recognized by the .epub format. Many conversion houses and publishing companies are already delivering .epub files through distribution.