The Evolution of Electronic Publishing: Michael Smith on his new role as executive director of the IDPF
Last month, the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), a trade and standards organization for the digital publishing industry, announced Michael Smith as its new executive director. Smith, who replaces Nick Bogaty, is charged with directing the IDPF’s efforts to promote the newly adopted Open Publication Structure 2.0 and .epub file format, which the organization approved as the official digital publishing industry standard in September. In October, Hachette Book Group USA was the first publisher to announce that it had adopted the new standard.
Smith, who previously managed e-book and book production for Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. for its North American, U.K. and Australian markets, spoke with Book Business Extra about his thoughts on assuming his new role at a time when digital publishing is rapidly advancing and grabbing headlines.
Book Business Extra: What do you feel are the biggest challenges you’ll face as the new executive director of the IDPF?
Michael Smith: … My challenges are to keep up with all the vast opportunity now coming to bear for IDPF and the community. … I’ve stepped into an opportunity to affect the way people read, and the way books and literature [are] enjoyed and consumed. Wow, it’s almost too much opportunity.
Extra: What are your goals in this new role?
Smith: My goals are to serve the membership and all the communities we serve, and to help facilitate the kind of growth we expect in digital books. …
Extra: What does Hachette adopting the new .epub standard mean for the IDPF?
Smith: Hachette’s adoption of .epub is an excellent signal that validates our technical and practical work product. Having a major global trade publisher like Hachette Book Group USA adopt .epub is an endorsement we feel will be followed by many.
Extra: How did Hachette come to adopt the new standard, and how will you draw on their participation to bring other publishers on-board?
Smith: [Hachette] was a member of the .epub standards team, and they felt, as a member of the team, it was important to actually implement and help [others] implement the standard. Hachette’s participation should help publishers make their own decision once they study the .epub structure and recognize its benefits.