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 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...
) 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.