Gene Therapy: Climbing Aboard the E-book Bandwagon
Conboy dates back to the early days of the Power Book and SoftBook in 1996, and through the years of Peanut Press, Mobipocket, Glassbook, Adobe Reader, the Rocket Book, and now the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle. He has followed the evolutionary trail of proprietary reader hardware and software that has been a major obstacle to wide-scale e-reading adoption.
Last year, IDPF (under Conboy’s leadership of its standards committee) completed publication of the three elements of e-book standard formatting, which are now collectively called .epub. They are:
1. OPS—the Open Publication Structure. This is the guts of .epub and provides standards for defining the content elements of an e-book (titles, heads, text, etc.) so that they can be understood across platforms.
2. OPF—the Open Packaging Format. This provides publication-level metadata, and describes all the components of the publication and how they are tied together (markup files, images, linear reading order, etc.).
3. OCF—the Open eBook Publication Structure (OEBPS) Container Format. This describes how all the components of the e-book can be packaged together for transmission, delivery and archival purposes.
As Conboy explained it to me, OCS is very much like creating a ZIP file, which any computer will recognize and enter into its directory. Once unzipped, however, its files will be recognized by your computer only if you have the appropriate software. But at least it gets them to a destination, and you can identify the file names inside.
That’s where the XML-style .epub tagging system comes into play and where the .epub suffix, when recognized, will set into motion an internal system that can read and display your book with its structural elements true to the intention. There’s a lot more here than meets the word—but I think this is as far as I need to go to make the general point: .epub sets the stage for e-book market growth.
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.