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Old 09-01-2013, 08:38 AM   #1
avid01
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Article: The publishing industry has a problem, and EPUB is not the solution - And my

I have searched for this older article on the forum but haven't find - http://toc.oreilly.com/2013/02/the-p...-solution.html

Whenever someone proposes EPUB as a solution, ask yourself a question: what’s the problem they’re trying to solve? As a standard drafted by the IDPF, a self-proclaimed “organization for the Digital Publishing Industry”, EPUB is built squarely to address the industry’s biggest headache: ensuring that, in the digital age, they retain the ability to charge money for distributing content. The best interests of authors or readers simply do not figure in the equation.

Your take? I don't know is EPUB (besides being version 2 or 3) a good format in itself or you could come up with a better proposition?
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Old 09-01-2013, 08:48 AM   #2
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I think publishing as it has been will have to adapt and change or find itself in history's trash can. Our ancestors saw it with the advent of the car. At first some models had a fake horse head on the front (to avoid scaring real horses) and eventually the automobile pushed the horse drawn cart to the side. Ray Bradbury expressed the idea in his story "The Toynbee Convector." A society that stagnates and doesn't progress dies.
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Old 09-01-2013, 10:07 AM   #3
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I don't know much about EPUB3 - other than it seems to be biting off more than might be good for it, but I see EPUB2 as pretty much the same sort of thing as ODF (Open Document Format) used by OpenOffice etc, but dedicated for ebooks (which is good). EPUB solves a lot of problems for which HTML has no elegant solution. ODF and EPUB allow a complex document to be both modular (an advantage for software, and for those debugging content problems), and a single file (an advantage for the user and distributor). It's a simple and elegant solution (or it could have been, had it not been designed by committee).

And, thanks to the wide acceptance of EPUB these days, there are effectively only two standards to worry about any more, and Amazon provides the tool to go from EPUB to Kindle so I really only have to care about EPUB. I can't speak to the vagaries of different EPUB2 support, my requirements so far have been fairly simple. So far so good.

Where I do agree with the article is that the emphasis on the EPUB standard seems to be focused on obscure things or publishing industry things, rather than what is actually useful to the users of EPUB files (readers, publishers, distributors etc.) - including the software. For example no one can agree on what exactly should be inside the description field of the metadata (eg: HTML or other formatting capability - even just simple paragraphing - is not defined). As a result, it appears that the metadata of an EPUB is mostly ignored (despite the many articles telling you how important it is), with resellers getting their information from the publishers/distributors directly (and almost as unreliably), rather than from the EPUB. As far as I can tell EPUB metadata has become the purview of end-users with software like Calibre.

The article makes great claims for the wonders of using HTML files directly, but it's taken years for it get to where it is now - and it's far from perfect. EPUB is as close as we have to a standard for ebooks now, I don't see it going away. EPUB3 may turn out to be a mistake, in which case some other variation of EPUB will take over or it will be adapted until it works. It will all work out in the wash, it just takes time.

Last edited by gmw; 09-01-2013 at 10:09 AM.
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Old 09-01-2013, 12:28 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crich70 View Post
I think publishing as it has been will have to adapt and change or find itself in history's trash can. Our ancestors saw it with the advent of the car. At first some models had a fake horse head on the front (to avoid scaring real horses) and eventually the automobile pushed the horse drawn cart to the side. Ray Bradbury expressed the idea in his story "The Toynbee Convector." A society that stagnates and doesn't progress dies.
Some things should have stayed as they where. Because of sight problems, I can't drive a car; I am only allowed to drive a bike, or a moped. (The slow ones, up to 25 kph: I can go faster on a bike, for god's sake.)

Mostly I don't, because there are too many idiots driving cars... I'd feel much safer if everything was still done by horse.

And I actually like horses, even as a male. There. So shoot me

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I don't know much about EPUB3 - other than it seems to be biting off more than might be good for it, but I see EPUB2 as pretty much the same sort of thing as ODF (Open Document Format) used by OpenOffice etc, but dedicated for ebooks (which is good). EPUB solves a lot of problems for which HTML has no elegant solution. ODF and EPUB allow a complex document to be both modular (an advantage for software, and for those debugging content problems), and a single file (an advantage for the user and distributor). It's a simple and elegant solution (or it could have been, had it not been designed by committee).

And, thanks to the wide acceptance of EPUB these days, there are effectively only two standards to worry about any more, and Amazon provides the tool to go from EPUB to Kindle so I really only have to care about EPUB.
This; basically, the only two ebook formats still worth mentioning are MOBI/KF8 for the Kindle, and EPUB for everything else. As Amazon/Calibre provide the conversion tools to KF8, one only needs to have a good, clean EPUB source file to serve (almost) every current reader on the planet.

Last edited by Katsunami; 09-01-2013 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 09-01-2013, 02:11 PM   #5
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A lot of the epub problems can be traced to HIGHLANDER thinking: "There can be only one".
This leads to kitchen-sink specs that try to be everything to everybody and to defensive fanboyism as the spec's status as the "magical anointed standard" cannot abide the existence of an alternative solution.
Eventually, disenchantment sets in if a strong competitor refuses to follow the herd and prospers.

epub is useful.
But there is nothing magical about it nor anything that makes it compelling to buyers of narrative prose commercial ebooks.

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Old 09-01-2013, 02:34 PM   #6
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And I actually like horses, even as a male. There. So shoot me
So far horses have the advantage over cars in everything except speed. I hear though that they're developing cars where you can leave the party, get in the car, and go to sleep as it finds its own way home. Not there yet, but maybe they're coming. Hopefully they'll let you 'drive' one of those once they're available.
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Old 09-01-2013, 03:43 PM   #7
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So far horses have the advantage over cars in everything except speed. I hear though that they're developing cars where you can leave the party, get in the car, and go to sleep as it finds its own way home. Not there yet, but maybe they're coming. Hopefully they'll let you 'drive' one of those once they're available.
A big disadvantage of horses is that they crap on the roads. So Katsunami beware, cycling though a thick layer of horse manure isn't any safer than sharing the roads with cars.
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