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Old 07-02-2009, 07:27 PM   #1
llasram
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Creator vs. reader and the Adobe EPUB monopoly

Because some people on MR seemed to find my last e-book-related blog post interesting, I figured I'd go ahead and post here myself that I have a new one up. Discusses some technical issues surrounding the tension between book-creator and book-reader control of formatting and how this interacts with Adobe's de facto monopoly of the EPUB format.

http://platypope.org/blog/2009/7/2/c...-epub-monopoly
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Old 07-03-2009, 09:49 PM   #2
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Thank you, llasram. Your blog is informed and interesting, just like your MR posts.
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Old 07-03-2009, 10:35 PM   #3
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While it's a great and interesting blog, I must take issue with the statement, that: "... It's no surprise to the average e-book enthusiast that PDF's fixed-page nature makes it a poor e-book format...."

Not true. I don't know who the "average" is, but the most recent poll I remember linked here, indicated that PDF was the choice of about HALF of the e-book enthusiasts who responded, with the rest divided among the myriad formats bickering for attention. And this was after an orchestrated campaign here to skew the poll, and have MR users go vote for EPUB.

On a large screen, a PDF can be by far the most robust format, both for very complex pages (think fashion magazine), and for simple (but still formatted) text. It can handle color well, too.

For smaller screens, PDF is still great, as the new mobile SDK can reflow.

This has been discussed before, and while at first I was not certain, now I am sure that PDF is by far the most versatile format, with the best potential longevity, since it can scale with advancements in hardware.

If someone wants total control over their text, why not just stick with plain text files, and be done....

Finally, because of the nature of manufacturing, screen sizes will standardize, just like they have done so for laptops and monitors. So, in reality, fixed size is not such a problem, for most.

And for those who enjoy micro editions (screens), PDFs look as good as it gets on the Iphone.
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Old 07-05-2009, 11:57 AM   #4
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Marshall, Are you my twin? Separated at birth? How is it that you mirror my opinions so closely.

First you format blog now this blog. Hmmm... Okay maybe not so close I have to agree with Sonist on his PDF comments.

One real question that you raised but not really made the connection was why Adobe is the Defacto Standard ....


While we talk about the superiority or dominance of MOBI vs ePUB vs LIT and vise-versa there is only one true De Facto standard today and that is PDF.

Statistics show that over 50% prefer PDF over the other formats. And though the majority of us prefer the other format to PDF, the mobile community is not the majority but only a small sector of the market.

What is more PDF has been in the market for years and is truly the most supported format. There are viewers in almost all OS and all mobile devices. You also see the continued dominance of PDF by models that are coming out. While model X or Y support an eBook format like MOBI/LIT/ePUB, they all support PDF.

What I though was a terrible marketing move by Adobe I now have to re-think and say it was brilliant. They have leveraged their PDF dominance and tied it with the ePUB format and DRM as one package.

This has put them in a position to monopolized the format/DRM wars. While Amazon has is on the radar, people are ignoring over the real threat.

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Old 07-05-2009, 12:01 PM   #5
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there is only one true defecto standard today and that is PDF.
That's the best description of PDF I've ever come across. It is indeed a "defecto standard" when it comes to eBooks .
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Old 07-05-2009, 01:12 PM   #6
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That's the best description of PDF I've ever come across. It is indeed a "defecto standard" when it comes to eBooks .
Who says there is not truth in Freudian slips.

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Old 07-05-2009, 05:06 PM   #7
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That's the best description of PDF I've ever come across. It is indeed a "defecto standard" when it comes to eBooks .
PDF is not a defacto standard. The only standard I have actually seen is plain ordinary text files. More devices can handle plain text files then any other format.
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Old 07-05-2009, 07:59 PM   #8
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PDF is not a defacto standard. The only standard I have actually seen is plain ordinary text files. More devices can handle plain text files then any other format.
I believe we are talking about a widely adopted "standard," capable of displaying all current publication formats, from fashion magazines to novels.

The idea is, that when I get a publication, be it my Nylon magazine subscription, or an Updike novel, I should be able to view it on my desktop, and send it to my wife, to view on her MacBook.

This includes the ability to view it on my large-screen e-reader (albeit in BW, due to current technology.) But also, in a couple of years, when there are color reading devices, I'd like to be able to use the SAME file I have now.

The only such "standard" I am aware of, is PDF.

Last edited by Sonist; 07-05-2009 at 08:06 PM.
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Old 07-05-2009, 08:04 PM   #9
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PDF may display novels, but they aren't eBooks.
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Old 07-05-2009, 08:07 PM   #10
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PDF may display novels, but they aren't eBooks.
Says who, and why?

I'd guess most of the public would disagree.
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Old 07-05-2009, 10:25 PM   #11
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Says who, and why?

I'd guess most of the public would disagree.
If you ask around on MR, you'll find a heavy dislike for PDF as an eBook format. PDF is meant to be a page layout format so you can print the document as it was ment to be. And for that it is brilliant. As an eBook format, it falls on it's ass with lots of welts.
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Old 07-06-2009, 01:51 AM   #12
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I don't like PDF because Adobe control it, simply put, I don't trust proprietary technologies with something as important as information.

Open standards for ebook formats would be great. Sure PDFs are ubiquitous, but they have various licensing levels which certain devices handle to differing extents (see the Kindle). Also the software required is bloated and to an extent, intrusive. A free and open standard without licensing costs, that works on any platform is much more attractive to me.
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Old 07-06-2009, 02:38 AM   #13
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I do believe PDF is now an open, ISO standard. That said, unless it's a technical manual/textbook/something else I want to print, I don't want PDF for my ebooks. I tend to read on a variety of screen sizes and orientation and that usually requires conversion to various formats. While PDF is a good end-format (assuming a standard screen size to match the PDF), it doesn't really lend itself well to conversion unlike (X)HTML.

Someone cited the iPhone as a good PDF reader. For its size, yeah, it's pretty decent, but the PDF reading experience using the built-in reader leaves much to be desired. I don't really fancy having to pinch and flick all the time just to navigate a letter-size document.
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Old 07-06-2009, 03:20 AM   #14
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PDF is from the era when computers were used primarily to produce, not to consume documents. As a result it is designed with the document producer, not the consumer in mind. As such, it is unsuited to the era of digital documents.
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Old 07-06-2009, 05:28 AM   #15
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PDF is from the era when computers were used primarily to produce, not to consume documents. As a result it is designed with the document producer, not the consumer in mind. As such, it is unsuited to the era of digital documents.
I disagree. If people wanted "control" so badly, so they can "read" on 2" screens, they have had it for decades now. It's called plain text.

I think a lot of "techies" (I speak in general terms, not directed at anyone in particular) don't get visual presentation and design, and many never will. They hated GUI, they hate Apple, they hate Flash, etc..

But look at the Web: it has has moved from barely formated, freely reflowable text, to much more complex and "designed" look, and will move further in this direction, as the capabilities of adopted technology expand.

Similarly with e-books. Right now we are in the DOS era, but as the technology improves, design will come, the screens will get bigger, they will get color, advertising will come, complex publications like magazines will come....

People have always "consumed" information, just like other things, and once the basics are covered, design and presentation become important.

There is currently no other format other than PDF, which can meet these needs, and be somewhat "future-proof." And yeah, I wish it was open and free, but it's not, and there isn't anything open and free which can compete with it, at least for the majority of users.

Last edited by Sonist; 07-06-2009 at 05:31 AM.
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