View Full Version : "What's so great about epub ?" you ask...


zelda_pinwheel
01-14-2009, 06:54 PM
NOTE : Recently there was some discussion about why it's so important to have a standard format for ebooks, and why epub is better than other formats. It occurred to me that probably a lot of people have questions about this, so i thought i would make a new reference thread to serve as a repository for information and answers. to start, i'm copying the conversation from the other thread over here. there is probably plenty more information to add so this will be a work in progress.


I also highly encourage you to read this thread (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=36219&page=2), where the discussion began.


Without further ado, what is so great about epub :



well, i agree that epub is just starting out and has a long way to go, of course. but i do think it has a very good chance of becoming the de facto standard, because it does have the support of some pretty important players already including most of the major publishing houses (in fact, some publishers which are just starting to provide their books in digital format are *only* publishing epub books).

the fact that sony devices can read it natively is also a very big deal, given that sony is among the oldest ebook device makers, and there are a lot of sony devices out there ! ipods / iphones can also read epub books, using stanza, and there are a LOT of those out there ; feedbooks distributes something like thousands (or was it more ?) epub books every day.

natively is not the only way to support it though : mobipocket (and therefore amazon, who owns mobipocket) actually does already support (drm-free) epub, in the sense that the mobipocket desktop reader will already convert it to mobi format (if you have the mobi destop reader installed, double-clicking any epub file will automatically launch the conversion, and when it's done it will be displayed in the reader), effectively making any mobipocket-capable device an epub-capable device. (all you kindlers : you can read epub books on your kindle ! and it's probably the most painless conversion of all of them !) given that mobipocket is a competing format, i suspect that's probably as good as we can hope for, but i think it's actually quite reasonable, since epub is designed to be a source AND end format. ETI also supports epub and the eb1150 will also support epub by converting it to the native imp format (well, we eb1150ers are used to having to convert everything ;)). it's an extra step but it does open up a whole new format to these devices, which is not to be sneezed at. between the sony, the ipod / iphone, and all the mobipocket-enabled devices out there, there is a pretty huge potential audience for epub.

someone (sorry, i can't remember just now who and i'm feeling too lazy to go back and find the post... :o) mentioned drm earlier. i wholeheartedly agree that drm is the scourge of all things digital, and ebooks are no exception. however, this is true of drm on *all* formats, not just epub, and i do also think it's important to keep that issue separate from epub as a standard format.

i imagine that to some of you the notion of standard formats is pretty abstract and seems relatively trivial or irrelevant ; i'm a webdesigner though and non-compliant browsers and code (which don't respect the webstandards, defined by W3C which is the web equivalent of idpf) are the bane of my existence. a standard format is sort of the webdesigner's holy grail, and it's really clear to me how important it is to have a standard format for ebooks too. that's why i support epub in every way i can as of now, even though the tools for creating and displaying epub are not yet perfect, and even though the format itself is still being defined. even in its current state it is already much better than the existing formats in so many ways, and it will only get better. even if currently it doesn't suit your needs i think that the support of consumers as well as the industry is important, and a standard format is in your best interests too, so i do hope you will at the very least keep checking back to see how it evolves, and support it in whatever way will fit into your reading habits.

Liviu_5
01-14-2009, 10:22 PM
even in its current state it is already much better than the existing formats in so many ways, and it will only get better. even if currently it doesn't suit your needs i think that the support of consumers as well as the industry is important, and a standard format is in your best interests too, so i do hope you will at the very least keep checking back to see how it evolves, and support it in whatever way will fit into your reading habits.

My big question is what is the goal of epub?

Before there was oeb which was not a single file like epub, but a package that was then compressed - and possibly drm'ed - in prc, imp, lit, possible other formats (embiid??. lrf??)

Of course you could use oeb directly - for example my 770 can read a properly packaged oeb, by using the opf file as "base" and especially before the prc reading capability was introduced, I would explode a lit file in the oeb package and just put it like that or zipped on the 770. When Fbreader could handle (non-huff, non-drm) prc I would usually go one step further and use the Mobipocket Creator to get the prc file since it was more compact.

So is epub intended to be used like oeb, namely basing proprietary formats on it - here we may not need compression, but every firm can put its incompatible drm on it for example - or is epub as it stands/develops further is to be a unique format readable on all devices drm or no drm...??

The second thing is something I am very doubtful of.

The first who knows, it's possible but what do we gain from the current state other than more capabilities in the underground machinery that as a consumer I do not see anyway...

We would still have incompatible formats for various devices since that is not a technical issue but a social one.

Right now we could have all devices reading drm Mobipocket which is probably the easiest to adapt, if the will was there.

wallcraft
01-14-2009, 10:48 PM
So is epub intended to be used like oeb EPub is the next generation OEB. The .epub "container" is just a ZIP of all the files making up the ebook and like the original OEB it has an .opf metafile.

There were multiple goals for ePub. Publishers wanted a single master format to target (somewhat like using OEB as the master to LIT and MOBI). Readers wanted to use the format directly on their devices. One issue with "ePub direct to Reader" is that it is relatively resource heavy to render ePub to a screen. So the first crack in ePub standards are the limitations on file sizes imposed by Adobe Digital Editions for rendering on handheld devices (like the PRS 505). The alternative is to add an off-line ePub to device format step. MobiPocket appears to be following this route (which is allowed by the ePub standard). The problem that MobiPocket has is that MOBI is now seriously out of date, and isn't powerful enough to even come close to fully supporting ePub. The new oeb2mobi (really epub2mobi) capability in Calibre will be exploring how close MOBI can come to displaying ePub. A limitation that Calibre faces, though, is that the MOBI format needs to be updated to better support ePub and only MobiPocket can do this. Even MobiPocket will find this difficult, because they have to update multiple reader software packages for multiple device types.

EPub includes a specification of how to apply DRM to the ebook, but it does not standardize the DRM itself. So far only Adobe is adding DRM to ePub, but there is already talk of eReader DRM on ePub. For publishers this is ok, since it is the same ePub with multiple incompatible DRM schemes (provided downstream, for a charge, by a 3rd party). It is a nightmare for consumers though.

zelda_pinwheel
01-15-2009, 09:36 AM
My big question is what is the goal of epub?

(...)

The first who knows, it's possible but what do we gain from the current state other than more capabilities in the underground machinery that as a consumer I do not see anyway...

We would still have incompatible formats for various devices since that is not a technical issue but a social one.

Right now we could have all devices reading drm Mobipocket which is probably the easiest to adapt, if the will was there.

wallcraft has already addressed your question of what is the goal of epub, so i won't elaborate on that. i would add that standard formats are in everyone's best interests because :

- for publishers, it means a simplified workflow as they have only to produce *one* format, which can if necessary be converted to a different end format like mobipocket (even locally by the user), or can be read natively on some devices. this means that it will become easier and cheaper to produce ebooks, which should mean more ebooks being created.

- for bookstores it means simplified inventory management and file serving, since they could conceivably (one day) need to offer only one format which would be accessible to all readers.

- for readers, it means a much broader selection of ebooks available to them, either by reading the file natively (currently sony, iphone, soon jetbook, soon others as well) or by easily converting it (currently all mobipocket devices, eb1150...), and the end of ebabel and incompatible formats (again, leaving aside the problem of drm, which is not specific to epub).

- for readers (again) it also means a library of ebooks which is "future proof" ; if epub is a standard format, it means if today you buy a sony and build up a library of epub books you read on it, but next year you buy a different device, your library will still be accessible to you on the new device (which is not the case with closed, proprietary formats like lrf, imp, even mobipocket, etc.). in addition, epub is based on xhtml and css style rules ; this can be displayed by any web browser and a number of other applications.

currently it's true that mobipocket format is very widespread however i would not be satisfied with a mobipocket device ; the mobipocket format may be common but it's also out of date and flawed. css styles used by epub allow for much more complete formatting capabilities. for example, in epub you can "float" images inline with the text, this means you can have an image to one side of the screen with the text flowing along side it. in mobipocket, this is impossible : all images must be inserted in between two blocks of text. you can see three examples of this in the photos in this post (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showpost.php?p=214111&postcount=7). you can also make drop caps, which is impossible in mobipocket. epub also can use vectorial images (svg) and the capability to incorporate audio or video clips (or pretty much any file you want) already exists and will make for some really interesting multi-media enriched reference texts (for example) as soon as the viewers catch up.

in addition mobipocket uses outdated html code further modified with proprietary mobipocket code. this means that depending on which device / version of the viewer you use the results can be unpredictable. it also means that converting mobi format to another format will not give clean results and will need extensive further work. here is one explanation (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showpost.php?p=322936&postcount=2) of why mobipocket format is inferior to epub. here is another (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showpost.php?p=302815&postcount=8). there are plenty more but i don't have time to search for them right now.

Liviu_5
01-15-2009, 12:20 PM
- for readers, it means a much broader selection of ebooks available to them, either by reading the file natively (currently sony, iphone, soon jetbook, soon others as well) or by easily converting it (currently all mobipocket devices, eb1150...), and the end of ebabel and incompatible formats (again, leaving aside the problem of drm, which is not specific to epub).


Two great posts above and I truly appreciate them, but the above paragraph is just a pipe-dream in my opinion. Drm-free, yeah, but then we have html, rtf, txt, pdf already, and while epub is more sophisticated from what I understand, it's just a matter of degree. And the technical problems with device rendering are still there as I saw it first hand on my 700, where epub is pdf like in speed and then why not use reflowable pdf, what do I gain? I can convert faster to reflowable pdf with open_office_org. And the 700 is a powerful device as e-reading ones go...

I sort of believe that this technical limitations will be overcome but the drm issue is social and economic and there is where I think epub as universal standard is just a pipe dream...

I profoundly doubt that you will be able to read drm epub on any device. I just do not think that drm works that way - not technically of course, but socially and economically

zelda_pinwheel
01-15-2009, 04:02 PM
Two great posts above and I truly appreciate them, but the above paragraph is just a pipe-dream in my opinion.
i prefer the term "optimism." ;) but seriously, i don't think it will happen overnight but i do think it will happen eventually. i think that in some cases the epub will be converted (mobipocket, imp...) but if the conversion is accomplished "invisibly" in the background the first time you open the file, as mobipocket reader does, then to the end user there's not a significant difference.

Drm-free, yeah, but then we have html, rtf, txt, pdf already, and while epub is more sophisticated from what I understand, it's just a matter of degree.
well, i guess you can put it that way, but there's a pretty huge difference between any of those and epub, so much so that i don't even see the point of comparing it to, say, txt. and pdf being a format specifically designed for *print* it has some very obvious shortcomings when used as an ebook format, even when it is formatted for a small screen. you *can* compare it to html, because it's based on html + css, but even in that case it brings more sophisticated possibilities than html alone.

And the technical problems with device rendering are still there as I saw it first hand on my 700, where epub is pdf like in speed and then why not use reflowable pdf, what do I gain? I can convert faster to reflowable pdf with open_office_org. And the 700 is a powerful device as e-reading ones go...
i'm not really sure what you mean by that. epub is very fast for me, the majority of what i'm reading is epub and i've no problems with delays in page turns or opening the books. pdf is acceptably fast as well, however the pdfs i've tried gave me an inferior experience because of their specific limitations : it's great to be able to reflow pdf if you're obliged to, but when you do that you lose some formatting of the page. i'd much rather read a format which is conceived specifically to be reflowable, rather than has reflow capability hacked into it after the fact. as for creating epub books, using calibre, i can create an epub for my own use with minimal effort in a few seconds from practically any other format. if i want to start from scratch and make a really nice quality epub it takes a bit longer but that is true of any format. i've not tried creating a pdf with open office but i imagine it's comparable or longer.

I sort of believe that this technical limitations will be overcome but the drm issue is social and economic and there is where I think epub as universal standard is just a pipe dream...

I profoundly doubt that you will be able to read drm epub on any device. I just do not think that drm works that way - not technically of course, but socially and economically
here, i agree with you : one of the really big problems with ebooks currently is drm. BUT 1. that's not limited to epub, 2. it doesn't prevent you from reading non-drm files (if i want to buy a drm book, which i try to avoid when possible, i buy lit format, remove the drm, and convert this to epub) and 3. just like drm is being abandoned on digital music, i am really convinced it's only a matter of time before we manage to get rid of it on ebooks as well. how much time, i don't know ; hopefully it won't take as long as it took the music industry. we will see. and once ebooks are sold without drm (which is *already* the case for certain publishers !), then there is nothing stopping you from reading epub on whatever device you want.

Liviu_5
01-15-2009, 04:28 PM
Regarding slowness maybe it's just that the epub's I made with Calibre were not that great since Calibre is a work in progress after all - though truly wonderful

I sort of agree that *eventually* we will move beyond drm, but that *eventually* will involve hard external pressure on the publishers the way p2p forced the music labels hand, and I am not sure where it will come from.

Before my 770 was Mobi capable, I avoided that format, then I was happy with it, while on the 700 I am happy with lrf for now, but as/if epub matures and tools become better, I have nothing against using it.

When I had the Eb1150, I bought the librarian software and happily converted lots of books to imp so whatever works I use, no "format bias" here.

My original skepticism about epub is that I've been hearing these claims of universality for a while, and in the meantime, guess what, Sony came with another proprietary format, Amazon with another pseudo-format (the renamed Mobi with its own drm servers), Ereader is still going strong with FW, Lit is also going strong, only embiid seems to have died and imp is limping unless ETI comes up with a modern Eb1150-like device

zelda_pinwheel
01-15-2009, 08:57 PM
Regarding slowness maybe it's just that the epub's I made with Calibre were not that great since Calibre is a work in progress after all - though truly wonderful
of course any app that brings out new versions practically every day is a "work in progress" and the epub support is officially beta ; it's nonetheless already really good and definitely good enough for personal use (i speak from experience). i don't know how recently you tried it or what sort of file you were reading (novel, rss feed, manga...) but you should definitely check it again. you can also try some of the books in our spanking new epub forum (yay !), some of which have been hand-coded, some of which created with calibre, others using different methods. i've found them to be really nice to read.
I sort of agree that *eventually* we will move beyond drm, but that *eventually* will involve hard external pressure on the publishers the way p2p forced the music labels hand, and I am not sure where it will come from.
well, please remember that as a consumer and ebook reader the pressure can come at least partially from *you*. you can write to publishers and tell them you hate drm (and why) and prefer drm-free ebooks. you can vote with your pocketbook, as they say, and support publishers making drm-free books available (there are some already). and i see you live in new york : i hope you've written to the FTC commission about DRM (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=35848).
Before my 770 was Mobi capable, I avoided that format, then I was happy with it, while on the 700 I am happy with lrf for now, but as/if epub matures and tools become better, I have nothing against using it.

When I had the Eb1150, I bought the librarian software and happily converted lots of books to imp so whatever works I use, no "format bias" here.
that's good news. epub should let you use whatever format you prefer, and also ensure that if you want to re-read your books on a different device, they will still be accessible to you. i'm sure you know that this is not possible with many formats (imp !). this is one of the biggest reasons i'm in favor of epub ; i hate the idea of an ebook being lost to me because it's in a closed, proprietary, and obsolete format. every time i made an imp format book i always kept my source files, for that reason.
My original skepticism about epub is that I've been hearing these claims of universality for a while, and in the meantime, guess what, Sony came with another proprietary format, Amazon with another pseudo-format (the renamed Mobi with its own drm servers), Ereader is still going strong with FW, Lit is also going strong, only embiid seems to have died and imp is limping unless ETI comes up with a modern Eb1150-like device.
yes, you are right, there are too many formats currently, and amazon creating yet *another* (closed, proprietary...) one, when they own mobipocket already, is the major reason i wouldn't buy a kindle even if i lived in the US (the other reason being, no epub support, of course. ;)).

that's another reason i think it's important to garner support from all quarters for epub early on, so it will gain momentum quickly as a standard. the more people adopting it early, the more popular it becomes, the more seriously even the epub-refractories will be obliged to take it, and the closer we really will get to one universal format. it's off to an excellent start already, but every little bit helps.

if you want a robust, future-proof, universal, standard ebook format (and really, how could you not ?), then i think the best way to show that is to start using the one we actually have already, even though it's still in development.

darkmonk
01-17-2009, 09:32 PM
Here's why ePUB is the best format, according to me:

-it's compressed, but in the most supported, easy to use format.
-it's non-binary, which means I can make the entire thing in notepad.
-it's one file, so things are nice and convenient.
-all the formatting is already known, used, and standardized, so no new languages to learn.

As far as I'm aware, no other format fulfills that criteria, so... Yeah. It's the best format.
Cheers!

-PS: it's also kinda corruptible proof, as no you have multiple parts in there.

HarryT
01-18-2009, 04:07 AM
Let's not neglect the "elephant in the room" when it comes to ePub, and that's DRM.

I think personally that, in permitting anyone to "bolt on" their own DRM method to an ePub file (and still call the result "ePub") the standards committee made a disastrous error.

At the moment we have ePub files with "Adobe Digital Editions" DRM. Shortly we'll also have ePub files with "eReader" DRM. In a year's time we could have other DRM methods as well. It's a recipe for disaster as far as the end user is concerned, with multiple, mutually-incompatible files all claiming (truthfully) to be "ePub" files.

One cannot just pretend that DRM doesn't exist, or that it's going to go away. It's with us, whether we like it or not, and it's going to be for the foreseeable future. I think personally that the ePub standard has messed up "big time" in this specific area, much as I support the overall concept of ePub as a standard in other areas.

zelda_pinwheel
01-18-2009, 10:38 AM
Harry, you are right that DRM is a big problem, however as i've said countless times before, it's not limited to the ePub format and it's really not constructive to mix the two issues, particularly as there are already major publishers selling completely DRM-free ePub books (PanMacMillan, for example).

DRM is a problem but it is it's own problem, and as you would have seen if you had read the previous posts in this thread, i am talking about drm-free epub, that is, the format itself.

please let's try to stay on-topic in this thread, i intend it as a reference and i don't want to muddy the discussion with other issues.

GeoffC
01-18-2009, 11:00 AM
Whilst I agree epub is laudable and worthwhile concept and provided it does achieve its aim of being a 'universal' standard, how does it "fit" with current reading devices....and their current multiplicity of formats - and how easy will it be to pursuade Amazon and Sony to endorse it on their products I wonder....

zelda_pinwheel
01-18-2009, 11:01 AM
Whilst I agree epub is laudable and worthwhile concept and provided it does achieve its aim of being a 'universal' standard, how does it "fit" with current reading devices....and their current multiplicity of formats - and how easy will it be to pursuade Amazon and Sony to endorse it on their products I wonder....
might i humbly suggest you read the preceding posts on this thread, because that is precisely what they are talking about.

GeoffC
01-18-2009, 11:12 AM
Ah - Ok - I stand corrected on some of the mentionables in previous posts above - however they all infer that the epub format has to be converted - does that not negate the issue of epub being "The Standard".

zelda_pinwheel
01-18-2009, 11:17 AM
Ah - Ok - I stand corrected on some of the mentionables in previous posts above - however they all infer that the epub format has to be converted - does that not negate the issue of epub being "The Standard".
no, epub does not *have* to be converted : as of today the sony 505 and 700 and the ipod touch can read it natively, and other companies have announced that they will support epub on their new devices.

however, since epub CAN be a source AND end format, it can ALSO be easily converted to other formats, if your device does not currently support it. for instance ETI (the makers of the eb1150) will support epub by providing a conversion tool that can accept it as a source format (the eb1150 can only read the .imp format natively), and mobipocket desktop reader will already convert epub to mobi format.

see the first post of this thread.

wallcraft
01-18-2009, 11:19 AM
Whilst I agree epub is laudable and worthwhile concept and provided it does achieve its aim of being a 'universal' standard, how does it "fit" with current reading devices....and their current multiplicity of formats - and how easy will it be to pursuade Amazon and Sony to endorse it on their products I wonder.... Sony is already supporting ePub via Adobe Digital Editions. One advantage of the Kindle store approach is that Amazon could support ePub at any time, since they only need to get it working on one device type and ePub could be provided side by side with AZW (MOBI). They already do this with TOPAZ ebooks (which are a pathetic attempt to provide an alternative to ePub). I doubt they will do this, but if they do the reason will be the textbook market. MOBI and TOPAZ are simply not good enough for technical ebooks.

A problem with ePub is that it takes a lot of resources to display correctly. So it will be interesting to see how well FictionWise is able to render ePub on (say) Palm handhelds. One option would be to bundle an ePub and an eReader version of the same ebook, with eReader being used on the less powerful devices. The eReader version would be generated by FictionWise from the publishers ePub.

GeoffC
01-18-2009, 11:29 AM
Sony is already supporting ePub via Adobe Digital Editions. One advantage of the Kindle store approach is that Amazon could support ePub at any time, since they only need to get it working on one device type and ePub could be provided side by side with AZW (MOBI). They already do this with TOPAZ ebooks (which are a pathetic attempt to provide an alternative to ePub). I doubt they will do this, but if they do the reason will be the textbook market. MOBI and TOPAZ are simply not good enough for technical ebooks.

A problem with ePub is that it takes a lot of resources to display correctly. So it will be interesting to see how well FictionWise is able to render ePub on (say) Palm handhelds. One option would be to bundle an ePub and an eReader version of the same ebook, with eReader being used on the less powerful devices. The eReader version would be generated by FictionWise from the publishers ePub.

Which makes the ePub under this scenario, not a 'standard' as Zelda is promoting.

GeoffC
01-18-2009, 11:37 AM
no, epub does not *have* to be converted : as of today the sony 505 and 700 and the ipod touch can read it natively, and other companies have announced that they will support epub on their new devices.

however, since epub CAN be a source AND end format, it can ALSO be easily converted to other formats, if your device does not currently support it. for instance ETI (the makers of the eb1150) will support epub by providing a conversion tool that can accept it as a source format (the eb1150 can only read the .imp format natively), and mobipocket desktop reader will already convert epub to mobi format.

see the first post of this thread.

That means, of course, that in order to read on my Cybook - I have to download my books via the desktop reader - which is an extra step for me .

But none-the-less your argument is correctly persuasive, very laudable and hopefully will become a reality - but in what time-scale, who knows?, though I suspect there will remain obstacles.

zelda_pinwheel
01-18-2009, 11:44 AM
Which makes the ePub under this scenario, not a 'standard' as Zelda is promoting.

Geoff, i can't help but wonder, did you read this thread ? epub is the industry standard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard), in the technical sense :
A technical standard is an established norm or requirement. It is usually a formal document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes and practices.
it is a standard accepted by the publishing industry, and defined by the International Digital Publishing Forum (idpf), which is a group mandated to define it, composed of various members of the publishing industry. the idpf website (http://www.idpf.org/) describes it this way :

What is EPUB, .epub, OPS/OCF & OEB?

".epub" is the file extension of an XML format for reflowable digital books and publications. ".epub" is composed of three open standards, the Open Publication Structure (OPS), Open Packaging Format (OPF) and Open Container Format (OCF), produced by the IDPF. "EPUB" allows publishers to produce and send a single digital publication file through distribution and offers consumers interoperability between software/hardware for unencrypted reflowable digital books and other publications. The Open eBook Publication Structure or "OEB", originally produced in 1999, is the precursor to OPS.

GeoffC
01-18-2009, 12:02 PM
Thanks ...

GeoffC
01-18-2009, 12:05 PM
I'll go back into my closet, turn out the light, and come out again when my brain cell is firing correctly on all cylinders....

Sorry to be so dim and dusted....

zelda_pinwheel
01-18-2009, 12:06 PM
no worries, just take your time and re-read the thread (more than once, if you like. :rolleyes:). it is there to answer questions.

GeoffC
01-18-2009, 12:08 PM
Life's never that easy - unfortunately - good job we have your goodself to look out for us and keep us on the strait and narrow....

llasram
01-18-2009, 03:14 PM
I think personally that, in permitting anyone to "bolt on" their own DRM method to an ePub file (and still call the result "ePub") the standards committee made a disastrous error.

But what's the alternative? I can think of three, but two of those are worse and one -- perhaps the one you're thinking of? -- is impossible.

The two worse ones:


No discussion of DRM in the standards. Various vendors implement various encryption and obfuscation schemes in different ways, making generic EPUB handling more difficult than it already is.
A standard full DRM scheme controlled the IDPF. This standard is not open, and use requires licensing and accreditation by an independent organization set up to control and manage the scheme, as per the DVD Copy Control Association's management of CSS (Content Scramble System). This organization has complete control over who is and is not allowed allowed to use scheme.


The impossible option:


A fully-specified open DRM scheme. The impossibility is that "open DRM" is an oxymoron. Either parts of the system are still closed and vendor-specific, or anyone is free to use the specification to implement a DRM-removal tool.


DRM is the problem in itself, not the specification of DRM in EPUB.

kovidgoyal
01-18-2009, 03:20 PM
A fully-specified open DRM scheme. The impossibility is that "open DRM" is an oxymoron. Either parts of the system are still closed and vendor-specific, or anyone is free to use the specification to implement a DRM-removal tool.


DRM is the problem in itself, not the specification of DRM in EPUB.

Actually, now that I think about it, why is that impossible? An open DRM scheme is easier to crack, but closing the DRM doesn't really guarantee it wont be cracked. The only real defence DRM has against being cracked is a legal one. For example, MOBI DRM is trivial to crack if you have the PIN used to encrypt the file, and not so trivial if you don't. In fact, MOBI DRM is a de-facto open DRM scheme.

llasram
01-18-2009, 03:36 PM
Actually, now that I think about it, why is that impossible? An open DRM scheme is easier to crack, but closing the DRM doesn't really guarantee it wont be cracked. The only real defence DRM has against being cracked is a legal one. For example, MOBI DRM is trivial to crack if you have the PIN used to encrypt the file, and not so trivial if you don't. In fact, MOBI DRM is a de-facto open DRM scheme.

Perhaps you're right. My thinking is that the purpose of DRM is to allow rights-holders to control how digital content is used. A particular DRM scheme only achieves that end if every piece of software able to access so-controlled content respects the restrictions the rights-holders place on the content. Truly open DRM necessarily means anyone can produce software which accesses the controlled content without restriction, defeating the whole purpose. If you define the purpose of DRM as something weaker, like "reduce the number of end users copying around content willy-nilly," sure -- then an open DRM scheme could work. My intuition however is that most DRM advocates are thinking of something closer to the former definition.

mtravellerh
01-18-2009, 03:54 PM
Perhaps you're right. My thinking is that the purpose of DRM is to allow rights-holders to control how digital content is used. A particular DRM scheme only achieves that end if every piece of software able to access so-controlled content respects the restrictions the rights-holders place on the content. Truly open DRM necessarily means anyone can produce software which accesses the controlled content without restriction, defeating the whole purpose. If you define the purpose of DRM as something weaker, like "reduce the number of end users copying around content willy-nilly," sure -- then an open DRM scheme could work. My intuition however is that most DRM advocates are thinking of something closer to the former definition.

That's a never ending game and don't we know it. Everyone should know that DRM doesn't really work after the resounding defeat of DRM protected music. But I feel in my guts that the book editors have to learn that lesson, too, instead of listening:
So again to those folks: make good books (well made technically), don't try to maximise your profit. give a little plus value with your ebooks and you do not need any DRM!

kovidgoyal
01-18-2009, 04:04 PM
Perhaps you're right. My thinking is that the purpose of DRM is to allow rights-holders to control how digital content is used. A particular DRM scheme only achieves that end if every piece of software able to access so-controlled content respects the restrictions the rights-holders place on the content. Truly open DRM necessarily means anyone can produce software which accesses the controlled content without restriction, defeating the whole purpose. If you define the purpose of DRM as something weaker, like "reduce the number of end users copying around content willy-nilly," sure -- then an open DRM scheme could work. My intuition however is that most DRM advocates are thinking of something closer to the former definition.

Any one can produce software to circumvent the restrictions placed by DRM, but it wont be legal to do so. I think that is the principal point of defence for DRM. Any additional security through obscurity is insignificant compared to that.

darkmonk
01-18-2009, 05:11 PM
I don't see why this would be any different then any other encryption scheme. I mean really, slap some 128bit AES encryption on the file that can only be decrypted with the key. Is any other scheme any different? Just standardize it! 128bit is still not going to be cracked by anything short of a supercomputer!

llasram
01-18-2009, 06:44 PM
Any one can produce software to circumvent the restrictions placed by DRM, but it wont be legal to do so. I think that is the principal point of defence for DRM. Any additional security through obscurity is insignificant compared to that.

I was curious enough to try to drill down into the legal code involved. IANAL, but the US DMCA (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00001201----000-.html) has this definition:

a technological measure “effectively controls access to a work” if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.

I'm not sure an open specification meets that standard, as there is no chain of trust necessitating "the authority of the copyright owner" in order to unlock the work.

kovidgoyal
01-18-2009, 06:49 PM
I was curious enough to try to drill down into the legal code involved. IANAL, but the US DMCA (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00001201----000-.html) has this definition:



I'm not sure an open specification meets that standard, as there is no chain of trust necessitating "the authority of the copyright owner" in order to unlock the work.

Isn't a key/password supplied by the book seller/publisher "authority of the copyright owner"?

llasram
01-18-2009, 06:50 PM
I don't see why this would be any different then any other encryption scheme. I mean really, slap some 128bit AES encryption on the file that can only be decrypted with the key. Is any other scheme any different? Just standardize it! 128bit is still not going to be cracked by anything short of a supercomputer!

DRM-using publisher: Enjoy your book!

E-book reader: It looks good. Hey, can I give it to my friend after I read it?

Publisher: Nope. In fact, we've encrypted it to stop you from doing that.

Reader: Oh. But if it's encrypted, then how am I going to read it?

Publisher: Oh, no need to worry -- we've given you the key too.

Reader: Er. Ok. Then what's to stop me from giving it to my friend?

Publisher: Because it's encry.... Um. Let me get back to you on that.

llasram
01-18-2009, 06:56 PM
Isn't a key/password supplied by the book seller/publisher "authority of the copyright owner"?

Like I said, I'm not a lawyer, but I have a hard time seeing it work that way... If the specification is open, then software which consumes the key + encrypted work can do anything. There's no chain of authority via which the copyright owner grants only specific rights the software is supposed to enforce.

Is there a lawyer in the house? :o

Strether
01-18-2009, 10:00 PM
natively is not the only way to support it though : mobipocket (and therefore amazon, who owns mobipocket) actually does already support (drm-free) epub, in the sense that the mobipocket desktop reader will already convert it to mobi format (if you have the mobi destop reader installed, double-clicking any epub file will automatically launch the conversion, and when it's done it will be displayed in the reader), effectively making any mobipocket-capable device an epub-capable device. (all you kindlers : you can read epub books on your kindle ! and it's probably the most painless conversion of all of them !)

I hadn't come across this information before, so I tried it out to confirm. Zigzags of Treachery by Hammett wouldn't open in the desktop reader, but The Picture of Dorian Gray opened just fine. Something I'm not understanding about this format?

Jim

wallcraft
01-19-2009, 12:16 AM
Zigzags of Treachery by Hammett wouldn't open in the desktop reader, but The Picture of Dorian Gray opened just fine. MobiPocket's ePub to MOBI isn't very robust. Some ePubs are essentially OEBs, i.e. based on the same source format as LIT and MOBI, and these convert ok. Any ePub that uses new features of the format are likely to either fail or produce sub-optimal results. Part of this is due to features lacking in the MOBI format, but part is due to relatively little work being put into ePub conversion by MobiPocket. There is nothing we can do about the former, but llasram is working on an any2mobi for Calibre which should eventually (i.e. after extensive testing and refining) do as good a job as possible with ePub to MOBI conversion. See Mobipocket output (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=36729), and this beta release of any2epub seems to work ok on Zigzags of Treachery.

HarryT
01-19-2009, 04:01 AM
Harry, you are right that DRM is a big problem, however as i've said countless times before, it's not limited to the ePub format and it's really not constructive to mix the two issues, particularly as there are already major publishers selling completely DRM-free ePub books (PanMacMillan, for example).

DRM is a problem but it is it's own problem, and as you would have seen if you had read the previous posts in this thread, i am talking about drm-free epub, that is, the format itself.

I have read the thread. DRM is a part of the ePub standard, and if we're going to discuss the standard we cannot simply ignore it.

The "bolt on your own DRM method" feature of ePub is unique to that standard (unless you know of another format which has this feature?), and raises important issues which don't arise with other eBook formats. We need to discuss as a part of the overall discussion of ePub. We can't simply sweep it under the carpet and pretend that it doesn't exist.

One issue, for example, that needs to be considered is whether or not a firmware creator is going to be permitted to support multiple ePub DRM methods. If not, this will mean that devices will only be able to read a subset of eBooks which conform to the standard - a situation which doesn't arise for any other format.

Jim Lester
01-19-2009, 03:16 PM
The "bolt on your own DRM method" feature of ePub is unique to that standard (unless you know of another format which has this feature?).

The PDF specification (since about 1.3) allows for multiple security handlers. This is exactly equivalent to encryption handlers for ePub.

ProDigit
01-20-2009, 12:04 PM
hi,
I just took a peek at this article, but time does not permit me to read all replies.
Therefor, I may ask a question already asked:
What does epub have that lrf does not have?

It's compressed, and displays Bold, underline, italic and Intended text.
It displays pictures upto a certain resolution perfectly, without rendering, and it uses bookmarks and internal hyperlinks.

I only speak from my experience with the PRS-505 from Sony and the LRF format,which show some issues of placing a picture on the left,right or middle of a text is not possible(unless one splits up the paragraph)
Hi-res pictures will be rendered in LRf files, making it impossible to see small details on large resolution files (eg:see the text of a comic book with pictures of resolutions greater than 1200x1000 pixels. (the numbers used here are to illustrate and do not display the true resolution limits)).

I know the LRF format generally only supports 3 fonttypes, and about 11 fontsizes per LRF. The PRS-505 is limited to zoom those fonts to only 3 different sizes, but one LRF I've discovered (so far), can host 11 different fontsizes.

This so far is my experience with LRF, and the limitations there of.

So, What does epub offer that LRF does not have?

pepak
01-20-2009, 12:14 PM
What does epub have that lrf does not have?
Much better CSS support, for one thing (e.g. border). Also, HTML2LRF does not handle e.g. nested selectors.

zelda_pinwheel
01-20-2009, 12:22 PM
ProDigit, if you are interested in epub, i highly recommend you read at least the first page of this thread, which gives a lot of information about epub.

to answer your question briefly, to start with, epub is an open format and an industry standard. those are two things which the lrf format does not offer.

llasram
01-20-2009, 01:43 PM
So, What does epub offer that LRF does not have?

As zelda_pinwheel said, the main super-big-untrumpable thing is being an open standard.

As far as formatting features go, it has a fair number of quirks. The biggest limitation is that it's fundamentally pixel-oriented -- almost every measure in the book is expressed in terms of screen-pixels, which makes real reflowability to arbitrarily sized screens a lie. This also means nothing can be scaled with font-size, including images. The BBeB block model is much simpler than CSS's, which means no generic floating blocks for text-wrapping around anything other than images, no inline blocks, and reduced support for arranging sequences of blocks (useful for poetry). The way vertical block margins are used is less-than-desirable, duplicating the entire margin of a block which crosses multiple pages on each page. Left and right horizontal margins may not be specified separately, but only as a single "side margin." BBeB completely lacks any support for vector graphics, which EPUB has via SVG.

I'm sure there's more, but I haven't looked at BBeB for a while.

kovidgoyal
01-20-2009, 02:00 PM
LRF also has not support for tables, and inline anchors (which means you cant have links to the middle of a large paragraph of text). Also no support for a hierarchical TOC

ProDigit
01-20-2009, 02:55 PM
I don't see why this would be any different then any other encryption scheme. I mean really, slap some 128bit AES encryption on the file that can only be decrypted with the key. Is any other scheme any different? Just standardize it! 128bit is still not going to be cracked by anything short of a supercomputer!

Or, it's not going to be easily cracked by any home computer; BUT the gamingcomputer running 2 graphics cards in SLI,with Cuda installed.
A Russian site already promotes it's program to crack any WPA in a matter of seconds, using graphic cards as processing power.

Even online banking recently made a swap to 1024bit encryption; and even then,it's just a matter of recording the signal and processing it to get the passwords cracked over time,I suppose...

The russian site said their program could crack codes on a normal home pc about 75%as fast as a Tesla super computer...
I just get this from reading online;not speaking from experience here.

So even if they used 128bit encryption, it'd just need some time to run the decrypter.
Especially when we're entering an age where computers became 10xfaster over the past 5 years.

pepak
01-20-2009, 04:07 PM
BUT the gamingcomputer running 2 graphics cards in SLI,with Cuda installed.
A Russian site already promotes it's program to crack any WPA in a matter of seconds, using graphic cards as processing power.

Even online banking recently made a swap to 1024bit encryption; and even then,it's just a matter of recording the signal and processing it to get the passwords cracked over time,I suppose...
Please do not comment on something you have no idea about:

1) Symmetric ciphers with 128bit keys are unbreakable by brute force and unless a major breakthrough (such as working quantum computers) is made, will remain unbreakable - possibly forever. Symmetric ciphers with 256bit keys will never get broken using brute force. There is not enough energy in the universe to do it, not enough time to wait for it.

2) What can (and occasionally does) happen is a break in the cipher algorithm itself. Given the amount of research into AES (and given the fact that even DES, almost 40 years old, is still not broken), I wouldn't hold my breath. It is usually the various side channels that get broken (e.g. the key exchange mechanism in case of WPA).

3) Online banking has exactly nothing to do with it: Key lengths in symmetric and assymetric ciphers are not easily comparable to each other; generally, you need perhaps 10 or more times longer keys for assymetric ciphers than for symmetric ciphers to achieve similar level of security.

ProDigit
01-20-2009, 05:26 PM
Yea, .. whatever ...

mtravellerh
01-20-2009, 05:34 PM
Si taquisses philosophus mansisses

Valloric
01-21-2009, 12:06 PM
Or, it's not going to be easily cracked by any home computer; BUT the gamingcomputer running 2 graphics cards in SLI,with Cuda installed.

The sheer amount of ignorance displayed in your post is staggering, to say the least. To bruteforce 128-bit AES encryption, you need to check 2^128 (340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,4 56) different keys. If you had a computer that could check a BILLION BILLION ( 10^18 = 1000 000 000 000 000 000) keys a second -- which is many many many orders of magnitude beyond what anyone can do, no matter how many computers or CUDA graphics cards they assemble -- it would still take 10^13 years to check all of them. This is one THOUSAND times longer than the age of the universe.

Even this is minute and laughably small if we talk about 256-bit AES.

Please don't speak about things you clearly have absolutely no idea about.

Jellby
01-21-2009, 12:09 PM
it would still take 10^13 years to check all of them.

Yes, all of them. But if you are lucky, you may find the right key in the first minute, which makes it very fast :D

HarryT
01-21-2009, 12:12 PM
Si taquisses philosophus mansisses

Words to live by, indeed :).

Valloric
01-21-2009, 12:20 PM
Si taquisses philosophus mansisses

I couldn't agree more. Also, it's tacuisses. :p

Yes, all of them. But if you are lucky, you may find the right key in the first minute, which makes it very fast :D

Now that's not funny! :D

HarryT
01-21-2009, 12:24 PM
I couldn't agree more. Also, it's tacuisses. :p


In classical Latin, yes (from "taceo", of course), but medieval Latin often replaced c's with q's, and this is a medieval Latin saying.

Valloric
01-21-2009, 12:29 PM
In classical Latin, yes (from "taceo", of course), but medieval Latin often replaced c's with q's, and this is a medieval Latin saying.

Huh... I missed that one.

mtravellerh
01-21-2009, 03:31 PM
Huh... I missed that one.

I didn't ;) cf my last post in this thread :thumbsup:

Valloric
01-21-2009, 06:49 PM
I didn't ;) cf my last post in this thread :thumbsup:

I saw that one coming. I deserve it, too.

Daithi
01-23-2009, 03:45 PM
I'll be honest, I'm certainly not opposed to epub, but I don't see it as the ultimate solution to producing ebooks either. Actually, I think the problem has more to do with hardware than it does with software. The screens used to display ebooks are just too small.

If for example you are designing a book of poetry then you will have lines wrap because the screen is too small, and there isn't much you can do about it -- no matter what software you use. The current e-readers work fine for novels and similar types of books, but virtually any book that requires special formatting is going to be hampered by screen size limitations far more than they are by software limitations.

Once we have screens capable of displaying letter or A4 sized pages then I still doubt I will be demanding epub support, but instead will want PDF support. That's my 2 cents anyway.

zelda_pinwheel
01-23-2009, 03:47 PM
I'll be honest, I'm certainly not opposed to epub, but I don't see it as the ultimate solution to producing ebooks either. Actually, I think the problem has more to do with hardware than it does with software. The screens used to display ebooks are just too small.

If for example you are designing a book of poetry then you will have lines wrap because the screen is too small, and there isn't much you can do about it -- no matter what software you use. The current e-readers work fine for novels and similar types of books, but virtually any book that requires special formatting is going to be hampered by screen size limitations far more than they are by software limitations.

Once we have screens capable of displaying letter or A4 sized pages then I still doubt I will be demanding epub support, but instead will want PDF support. That's my 2 cents anyway.

i made this same reply in the first thread you posted this in, but i'll make it here too for the sake of consistency :
:blink: i'm not sure what any of this has to do with epub.

Daithi
01-23-2009, 05:48 PM
I'm simply making the point that epub (or any software solution) does not resolve the issue of making formatted books look nice on an e-reader. The real problem is that the screens are too small, and when the screens are bigger then PDF will probably be answer and not epub.

I really enjoy your posts Zelda, but I fail to see why you think my response is off topic. Maybe your emotionally invested in epub? This I can understand.

zelda_pinwheel
01-23-2009, 05:51 PM
I'm simply making the point that epub (or any software solution) does not resolve the issue of making formatted books look nice on an e-reader. The real problem is that the screens are too small, and when the screens are bigger then PDF will probably be answer and not epub.

I really enjoy your posts Zelda, but I fail to see why you think my response is off topic. Maybe your emotionally invested in epub? This I can understand.

well, i think your post is a bit off topic because you are talking about screens being too small ; but as you recognise yourself, that has nothing to do with any ebook format, including epub.

as for making formatted books look nice, as long as we are not talking about screen size, the css support in epub should allow you to make very nice looking texts, on the contrary ; however, you are right, epub will not help you with poetry formatting if lines are too long for the screen. but again, that's not really anything to do with epub.

tomsem
05-04-2009, 05:45 PM
I have noticed that ePub supports the use of embedded fonts, but what other, specific technical advantages does ePub confer over mobi/AZW? Is there broader/deeper support for HTML/CSS? Are all ePub readers created equal, i.e. are some features 'optional' to implement?
Thanks

dauwhe
05-04-2009, 06:06 PM
I have noticed that ePub supports the use of embedded fonts, but what other, specific technical advantages does ePub confer over mobi/AZW? Is there broader/deeper support for HTML/CSS? Are all ePub readers created equal, i.e. are some features 'optional' to implement?
Thanks

ePub fully supports CSS 2.1 and I think almost all of XHTML. Mobi/AZW's CSS support is, what's the polite word, terrible. No support for float, almost all the box model fails, etc.

ePub also supports SVG. So the rendering capacity is much, much better. Basically it's quite difficult to do anything more design-intensive than a novel in Mobi. ePub gives you the chance to do almost anything (of course, you need a reading system to support it).

Dave

zelda_pinwheel
05-10-2009, 01:04 PM
jellby has posted a very succinct resume of the different strengths of epub and pdf in this thread (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=46541), and i thought it would be appropriate to add it here since it's a question which arises frequently.

the original poster wanted to know whether epub could rival the complex layout features of pdfs, and why it's a better format in general for ebooks.

Good PDFs are designed to look great at a single page size. Everything fits on the page, the paragraphs are broken at the right places, there are no widows or orphans, illustrations or tables appear where they are needed, vertical spacing is adjusted to make the page look right, etc.

Good ePUBs are made to look good at every (most) page sizes, font sizes, etc. The page won't look "perfect", but it will be good enough and, more important, it will look equally good if you cange the size, the preferences, etc. And you could even disable illustrations :D

For your own use (fixed parameters), there is nothing you can do with ePUB that you cannot do with PDF, and there are things you can do with PDF that are not possible with ePUB.

As soon as you send the files to others, since they'll have different tastes, needs, devices, etc., there are things they can do to the ePUB that they cannot do to the PDF.

Wetdogeared
05-13-2009, 01:01 PM
A presentation from BookNet Canada Technology Forum, Toronto, March 2009.

Michael Smith's presentation on EPUB ~ What a difference a year makes ~ Adoption of a Digital Standard

Mr. Smith needs a bit more practise doing presentations, but some interesting stats and graphics shown. I was almost expecting to see Calibre mentioned in one of his charts regarding conversion, but alas, no. (Mr Smith is executive director of the International Digital Publishing Forum - I'm not sure if he is connected to Hachette or not.)

18 minute video presentation: http://blip.tv/play/AfyRNZWAGA

(*Note - this was posted as an afterthought in another article in the "News and Commentary" forum titled 6 Projects That Could Change Publishing For the Better (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=46763), but I thought it might get lost so I've reposted the link to the EPUB presentation again in this thread.)

Other presentations on publishing (both eBook and pBook) at the BookNet Canada Technology Forum 2009 are at this link.

http://www.booknetcanada.com/mambo/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=374&Itemid=276

zelda_pinwheel
05-18-2009, 08:16 AM
thanks wde for that interesting link ! it's great to see such spectacular growth of ebooks and epub.

Kris777
05-20-2009, 02:14 AM
http://www.newsok.com/more-ebooks-added-to-norman-library/article/3370944

Pioneer Library System has expanded its selection of electronic books available through its virtual library. The library system added Adobe EPUB eBooks that are compatible with the Sony Reader devices. Library cardholders can access the virtual library through Pioneer’s Web site, www.pls.lib.ok.us.

An eBook is a digital version of a print book that has been formatted for on-screen reading. It is viewable on a computer or can be downloaded to a portable reading device.

zelda_pinwheel
05-20-2009, 08:37 PM
hi kris, thanks for the very interesting news ! can i suggest you start a new thread to discuss it, so more people will see it ? i think it could go in the news and commentary forum.

quillaja
09-27-2009, 06:19 AM
ePub fully supports CSS 2.1 and I think almost all of XHTML. Mobi/AZW's CSS support is, what's the polite word, terrible. No support for float, almost all the box model fails, etc.

i'm no expert, but from reading the OPS standard, it seems epub supports only CSS 2.0, not full 2.1. from the standard:

This specification defines a style language based on CSS 2. (Note that the CSS 2.1 specification is currently still at "Working Draft" status.)

furthermore, to quote the standard "...not all CSS 2 properties are included." there's a required subset of CSS properties that must be supported by epub reading systems.

I'm reading this at http://www.idpf.org/2007/ops/OPS_2.0_final_spec.html#Section1.3.5


anyway... one thought that occurred to me while reading this thread is: why would epub be difficult or "computationally expensive" for any portable device that isn't ancient? epub is simply xhtml and css--the same as any webpage. however, because epub doesn't have javascript, flash, or nearly as many images as a webpage, i would imagine it would render faster than a webpage. also, smartphones and such--portable devices--can display webpages just fine, including reflowable and resizable text on a variety of screen sizes (and sizes of browser windows). so why would an epub be any different?

extending that thought... why is creating an epub reading system so difficult? epub files are basically just simple webpages of text. any reader just has to use a copy of webkit or gecko or some other open-source renderer to make an epub reading system that supports far more advanced things than are required by the epub specs. reading systems may perhaps simply need to add a few "hacks" to create reader-specific thing, perhaps something related to pagination or whatnot.

HarryT
09-27-2009, 10:27 AM
anyway... one thought that occurred to me while reading this thread is: why would epub be difficult or "computationally expensive" for any portable device that isn't ancient?

I believe that correctly implementing SVG, which is a part of the ePub standard, is complex and computationally expensive.

quillaja
09-27-2009, 10:17 PM
true, svg might be a bit hard for weak processors. however, at this time, i think it's safe to say that svg in ebooks is pretty uncommon.

Jellby
09-28-2009, 05:38 AM
And SVG support in ePUB readers (even desktop readers) seems to be rather poor anyway.

Fringecup
12-19-2009, 02:26 AM
Hi! I've been reading the posts here for the first time because i just got my new Sony 600 reader and Sony sent me a message that they're switching to Epub for the books they sell and I wanted to know how it's different from .pdf, which I've been using for the books I've downloaded from Gutenburg. Is it actually better than PDF and if so, how? Can I use it for converting books from Microsoft format (I haven't figured out that one yet), and will it support color? I ask this because I know that Sony has been working on a color reader for at least 5 years and since I like to read gardening books, color is important to me.

I've found much of the discussion here pretty technical (I'm a beginner at this topic), so please keep it fairly simple. What is DRM anyway? Folks keep referring to it.

Well it's interesting reading your comments, and I'll be back!

-Fringecup

HarryT
12-19-2009, 04:12 AM
Hi! I've been reading the posts here for the first time because i just got my new Sony 600 reader and Sony sent me a message that they're switching to Epub for the books they sell and I wanted to know how it's different from .pdf, which I've been using for the books I've downloaded from Gutenburg. Is it actually better than PDF and if so, how?

PDF was not intended to be an eBook format. It is a digital representation of a specific size physical page - that's something that it does very well. The problem with PDF is that you have to create your PDF file for a specific sized display page, and there's no good way to display it different sized screens. Eg, if you create a PDF that's optimized for a 6" screen, then it's going to look pretty bad on a 10" screen.

An ePub book is basically a collection of HTML pages in a "wrapper" and, just like any web page, it can adapt itself to different sized screens by "rearranging" itself (this is called "reflow") to fit the screen. It's a much, much better idea when you're dealing with devices with differently-sized screens. Plus, you can change the font size and do all sorts of other things that you just can't do with a PDF file.

Can I use it for converting books from Microsoft format (I haven't figured out that one yet),

Yes.

and will it support color? I ask this because I know that Sony has been working on a color reader for at least 5 years and since I like to read gardening books, color is important to me.


Yes, it supports colour.

I've found much of the discussion here pretty technical (I'm a beginner at this topic), so please keep it fairly simple. What is DRM anyway? Folks keep referring to it.


DRM is "digital rights management" - the "encryption" technology that's used to "lock" an eBook to a particular user's devices. Some people don't like it. Personally, I'm not bothered.

Hope this helps.

lmarie
12-29-2009, 08:41 PM
Harry, I'm curious why DRM doesn't bother you. Is it that you don't normally want to pass your books on to other people? Or, is that you know how to remove the DRM without much effort? Or do you think people should pay to read a book every time? Or is it something else entirely?

(Yes, Zelda, I know this is somewhat off topic, but since I just spent an hour reading this whole thread, trying to digest the epub info in order to figure out which way to go with my Cybook upgrade, I feel "entitled" - :D )

JSWolf
12-29-2009, 10:39 PM
One reason to go ePub is portability. If you decide to get another reader, as long as it supports ADE, you can take your ePub with you and keep reading. It's that easy.

Jellby
12-30-2009, 05:15 AM
If you decide to get another reader, as long as it supports ADE, you can take your ePub with you and keep reading.

The same can be said of any other format. As long as it supports the format, you can use it. :rolleyes:

DaleDe
12-30-2009, 12:17 PM
The same can be said of any other format. As long as it supports the format, you can use it. :rolleyes:

Well, yes but this was talking about DRM. DRM when locked to a device can affect portability to a new device.

Dale

HarryT
12-30-2009, 12:57 PM
Harry, I'm curious why DRM doesn't bother you. Is it that you don't normally want to pass your books on to other people? Or, is that you know how to remove the DRM without much effort? Or do you think people should pay to read a book every time? Or is it something else entirely?


It doesn't bother me because ePub is rapidly becoming a universal standard, so it doesn't restrict the choice of device that I can buy. No, I never pass books onto anyone else - paper or electronic.

Jellby
12-30-2009, 02:19 PM
It doesn't bother me because ePub is rapidly becoming a universal standard, so it doesn't restrict the choice of device that I can buy.

Only because we are ADE in every device, with all its glitches and shortcomings. It's as if we could only use IE as a browser in our computers (or as if websites only worked with IE).

tompe
12-30-2009, 02:28 PM
Only because we are ADE in every device, with all its glitches and shortcomings. It's as if we could only use IE as a browser in our computers (or as if websites only worked with IE).

And the different implementations are different. Since the Gen3/Opus does not support hyphenation I cannot stand to read non-justified text. So if the justification is hard coded in a DRM:ed book the book is useless for me. So DRM is a real obstacle here for getting to use the functionality of your reader (reading justified text).

JSWolf
12-30-2009, 07:35 PM
Remember Paperback Digital? They sold Mobipocket format eBooks. So if you had say a Gen3 back then and bought some eBooks from there, you cannot take them to Any other reader. But if they were ePub, you could authorize your ADE compatible reader and take them along.

I am not talking about stripping DRM and format shifting. This is just plain old DRM and what you can and cannot do.

JSWolf
12-30-2009, 07:42 PM
And the different implementations are different. Since the Gen3/Opus does not support hyphenation I cannot stand to read non-justified text. So if the justification is hard coded in a DRM:ed book the book is useless for me. So DRM is a real obstacle here for getting to use the functionality of your reader (reading justified text).
That unfortunately is a problem with DRM. Some ePubs are coded for left justification. And there's really nothing you can do other then strip the DRM and fix the CSS.

pepak
12-31-2009, 02:03 AM
That unfortunately is a problem with DRM. Some ePubs are coded for left justification. And there's really nothing you can do other then strip the DRM and fix the CSS.
If your device supports user stylesheets, you could use CSS such as

p { text-align: justify !important; }

JSWolf
12-31-2009, 10:45 AM
If your device supports user stylesheets, you could use CSS such as

p { text-align: justify !important; }

But that would not override the justify in the CSS of the ePub. So if left justify is specified then it it would be left justified.

pepak
12-31-2009, 10:47 AM
But that would not override the justify in the CSS of the ePub. So if left justify is specified then it it would be left justified.
No, it wouldn't - that's where !important comes into play.

netseeker
12-31-2009, 10:52 AM
But that would not override the justify in the CSS of the ePub. So if left justify is specified then it it would be left justified.
The style with "!important" from a user css file should get a higher priority by the reading system and overwrite the styles used in the css-files of the ePub.

wallcraft
12-31-2009, 11:00 AM
The style with "!important" from a user css file should get a higher priority by the reading system and overwrite the styles used in the css-files of the ePub. That is correct, but mobile ADE does not honour "!important". It is still worth adding, because it is part of the ePub standard and eventually conforming ePub apps will use it.

Jellby
12-31-2009, 11:10 AM
Note that it won't work anyway if the book uses <p class="text"> or something similar...

JSWolf
12-31-2009, 11:24 AM
And the problem is that not all ePub are the same. We've found that an ePub from one shop doesn't have to be the same as an ePub from another shop.

kovidgoyal
12-31-2009, 11:38 AM
In general, with HTML it's very hard to allow the user to override things over a whole document, as almost everything can be set at the level of individual blocks and those setting take precedence.

Jellby
12-31-2009, 01:49 PM
That doesn't mean it's not VERY useful to be able to set a user stylesheet... just that one will likely have to alter it to suit particular books from time to time.

Peter Sorotokin
12-31-2009, 02:48 PM
In general, with HTML it's very hard to allow the user to override things over a whole document, as almost everything can be set at the level of individual blocks and those setting take precedence.

This is very true (although, I'd say this is CSS problem in general - it is not much easier with DTBook, for instance) and I see a lot of friction there as devices start to utilize user stylesheets more. Note that doing blind overrides (e.g. overriding justify or font on p element) is not very good solution because some parts of the book may require particular style: for instance, poetry and code samples should be left-justified and math formulas typically require a specific font. What is needed is a guide on how to author documents so that user stylesheets can selectively override only things which are meant to be overridable.

kovidgoyal
12-31-2009, 02:59 PM
This is very true (although, I'd say this is CSS problem in general - it is not much easier with DTBook, for instance) and I see a lot of friction there as devices start to utilize user stylesheets more. Note that doing blind overrides (e.g. overriding justify or font on p element) is not very good solution because some parts of the book may require particular style: for instance, poetry and code samples should be left-justified and math formulas typically require a specific font. What is needed is a guide on how to author documents so that user stylesheets can selectively override only things which are meant to be overridable.

Basically, we need a way to make EPUB files more semantic and editor/converter support for outputting semantic markup.

rogue_ronin
12-31-2009, 03:18 PM
Basically, a style guide for the XHTML, right?


I worked one out here (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47103), and I've continued to work on it in private, including moving to Dublin Core metadata where possible. (I should update the post.)

It'd be great to get some "professional" guidance, but I think the big boys are still fighting over territory.

m a r

DaleDe
12-31-2009, 06:24 PM
This is very true (although, I'd say this is CSS problem in general - it is not much easier with DTBook, for instance) and I see a lot of friction there as devices start to utilize user stylesheets more. Note that doing blind overrides (e.g. overriding justify or font on p element) is not very good solution because some parts of the book may require particular style: for instance, poetry and code samples should be left-justified and math formulas typically require a specific font. What is needed is a guide on how to author documents so that user stylesheets can selectively override only things which are meant to be overridable.

Actually there is a guide like that. Authors should not define those things that the user should have control over. This is spelled out very well for Mobipocket format and could easily be adopted for ePUB.

Dale

Jellby
01-01-2010, 05:28 AM
Actually there is a guide like that. Authors should not define those things that the user should have control over. This is spelled out very well for Mobipocket format and could easily be adopted for ePUB.

But then one thing is what the user "should have control over", and another thing is what the user "has control over". Take fonts or justification. In ADE there's no way to change them, so if the defaults are not enough for your book (for instance, if you have Cyrillic characters), you had to define it (embed a font with Cyrillic characters). Now the Cybook firmware allows the user to change fonts and justification, so this is not needed, but other readers still don't support this.

Fringecup
01-02-2010, 04:37 AM
A couple of folks earlier on were discussing converting to ePub from other formats. Well I'm really new at ePub and didn't have a word processor (to my knowledge anyway) that would save a file in ePub format. So I searched out one called "Atlantis" that would so this. I've found, after a bit of playing around with it, that Atlantis is the cat's meow for convertine .txt and .rtx files! All you do is copy them into Atlantis, then press the save - special button and ePub is one of the options! Then, once it's in ePub, you can identify the REAL author (rather than your reader thinking that YOU are the author) and you can insert an image at the beginning to serve as a cover, if you want one. I like that featire because I have my Sony 600 set to show thumbnail images and a picture is much easier to see at a glance than some tiny words!

I've also had no problem in converting .txt files into .pdf ones that are set up for my reader by following the instructions given in the Sony help files. the problem with this method is that the book always shows up as having written by me (a lie) and I haven't figured out how to put a picture as a cover for my thumbnails.

From now on, I plan to use just ePub - it's great!!

Daniel Jones
01-10-2013, 02:00 AM
The answer for what is great in ePubs lies in the size of the files. Generally ePub shows all the information that PDF files offer in a much smaller size. PDF books that consumes hundreds of MB when converted to ePub files takes only a few MB space of memory.

Toxaris
01-10-2013, 02:15 AM
Not really. If I would create a real PDF with text, the size would not be hundreds of MB but more closely to the ePUB size. If you have a PDF which is hundreds of MB, it is quite probable that all pages are images instead of text.
There are many advantages, but size is relative.

HarryT
01-10-2013, 03:38 AM
Please don't resurrect ancient threads for no good purpose. It's better to start a new thread.

Thanks.

Jellby
01-10-2013, 06:25 AM
But this is a sticky thread, maybe we should un-sticky it if we don't want it to come back to life?

HarryT
01-10-2013, 06:33 AM
You're right. 3 years with no posts is enough. Unstuck.