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Old 04-24-2009, 09:12 AM   #1
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Ebooks battle for next chapter

From the Guardian UK

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Publishers are now willing to embrace ebooks - but are they ready to head off the threat of a format war?
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Speaking at the Book Fair, Richard Palk, Sony's new business contents and services manager, said the company was ditching its proprietary format in the UK: "ePub has become the de facto UK consumers' format of choice," he said, adding that Reader and ebook sales were above expectations. "We see demand for ebooks and digital readers growing in the UK. It's clear that a reading revolution is beginning."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/apr/23/ebooks

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Old 04-24-2009, 09:45 AM   #2
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interesting article. it's great that make a point of talking about the format war (or "tower of e-babel") because i suspect many consumers aren't too aware of that. and it's probably the biggest hurdle ebooks have to overcome in the near future (there are a few other ones like drm and prices but format is very important). the good news is that at least in europe epub is making huge strides, as this quote seems to attest :

Quote:
Speaking at the Book Fair, Richard Palk, Sony's new business contents and services manager, said the company was ditching its proprietary format in the UK: "ePub has become the de facto UK consumers' format of choice," he said, adding that Reader and ebook sales were above expectations. "We see demand for ebooks and digital readers growing in the UK. It's clear that a reading revolution is beginning."

Crucially, Sony has allied itself with Amazon's retail rivals. Waterstone's has been selling ebooks in ePub format since the launch of the Reader. "We strongly believe that there should be a single format available to all," says Neil Jewsbury, Waterstone's commercial director. "We are pleased that Sony and the digital publishing industry agree that ePub is the most accessible and user-friendly format."
i really think it's now more a question of "when" than "whether" for epub, which is great news.
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Old 04-24-2009, 09:47 AM   #3
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interesting article. it's great that make a point of talking about the format war (or "tower of e-babel") because i suspect many consumers aren't too aware of that. and it's probably the biggest hurdle ebooks have to overcome in the near future (there are a few other ones like drm and prices but format is very important). the good news is that at least in europe epub is making huge strides, as this quote seems to attest :



i really think it's now more a question of "when" than "whether" for epub, which is great news.
I wonder if we'll have a continental division over this? North America - Amazon formats. Europe - ePub. Amazon won't be able to penetrate a market that's already decided upon a format, unless they include that format when they launch.
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Old 04-24-2009, 09:51 AM   #4
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I wonder if we'll have a continental division over this? North America - Amazon formats. Europe - ePub. Amazon won't be able to penetrate a market that's already decided upon a format, unless they include that format when they launch.
it does seem to be amazon's intention... using an open format goes against their strategy so far. but i hope they'll add epub support nonetheless because it would be pretty ridiculous to maintain such a pointless division, particularly given how easy it would be to create mobi files from epub sources (if they really insist on keeping mobi as their main format). if they sell and support both formats they could reach a much wider market, although so far that doesn't seem to be what they want. but maybe with the new iphone kindle app they're thinking about it.
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Old 04-24-2009, 10:05 AM   #5
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Amazing!!

Sony conceding that their own closed unique format is a bad idea!!



There is hope yet. Roll on the Cybook Epub format upgrade.
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Old 04-24-2009, 10:12 AM   #6
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Sony conceding that their own closed unique format is a bad idea!!



There is hope yet. Roll on the Cybook Epub format upgrade.
I know, very strange indeed.
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Old 04-24-2009, 10:25 AM   #7
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The big advantage of a switch to ePub, and ePub exclusively, is that it allows more advanced formatting to be used. If you look at the recent Lord of the Rings, for example, the formatting of the ePub is almost entirely consistent with the LIT version (A Comparison of format limitations based on The Hobbit ). So a world-wide release like this one, even of an ebook where investing in better layout might pay off in higher sales, is still constrained by older formats. On the plus side, it does seem that LIT is the minimum standard now, and MOBI and others are downconverted from that.

My problem with ePub-only is that it is effectively Adobe ePub-only and Adobe Digital Editions isn't a very good ePub viewer. It isn't completely terrible if you accept its concept of operation, which is that the publisher is always right and the reader should have virtually no control over layout, but even then I would argue that it should (optionally) implement hyphenation for example. If you are used to a Reader that gives you some control over the layout of text on the screen then Adobe Digital Editions is not for you.

So if the UK publishers stick to their ePub-only and DRM-mostly strategy, then FictionWise's plan to add ePub to eReader Readers (including eReader-like DRM) starts to make very good sense. Anyone who wants to stick around in the ebook market has to have an ePub strategy, and it probably has to include a unique DRM scheme for their particular reader.
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Old 04-24-2009, 11:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
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So if the UK publishers stick to their ePub-only and DRM-mostly strategy, then FictionWise's plan to add ePub to eReader Readers (including eReader-like DRM) starts to make very good sense. Anyone who wants to stick around in the ebook market has to have an ePub strategy, and it probably has to include a unique DRM scheme for their particular reader.
If Fictionwise comes out with a new DRM scheme for ePub, it's only going to confuse the market that's already confused enough. We don't need to add another layer of confusion and incompatibility. The idea is to have one ePub edition and everyone be able to purchase it who can handle ePub with DRM. Then we'll work on getting rid of the DRM. But for now, Adobe's DRM is what we have and should stick with. Do you want purchasers to purchase ePub from Fictionwise just to find they've wasted their money? We have comanies saying they plan on adding ADE and do you really see them wanting to abandon ADE for ePub with eReader? It would also mean that anybody with such devices could not borrow library ePub. Overall, if Fictionwise does what they said they are planning, then it's going to be a bit hit for epUb and the format could then be less popular. I say leave well enough alone.
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Old 04-25-2009, 07:26 AM   #9
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If Fictionwise comes out with a new DRM scheme for ePub, it's only going to confuse the market
It will kill ePub.
Imagine epub DRM infected....from adobe, fictionwise, diesel, sharkebooks etc...
Incompatible versions of the same format? People who have life and don't have time to live on mobileread will buy epub from all shops for the ebook reader only to realise that only one epub out of many is supported?
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Old 04-25-2009, 03:46 PM   #10
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It will kill ePub.
Imagine epub DRM infected....from adobe, fictionwise, diesel, sharkebooks etc...
Incompatible versions of the same format? People who have life and don't have time to live on mobileread will buy epub from all shops for the ebook reader only to realise that only one epub out of many is supported?
so long as they use different extensions it will be ok. See my thread in the ePUB section.

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Old 04-25-2009, 06:50 PM   #11
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so long as they use different extensions it will be ok. See my thread in the ePUB section.

Dale
I think I read it.
People don't buy extension. Most people have no idea what "file extension" mean and have by default "hide known file extension". People buy ebooks by format. PDF, MS Lit, ePub, Mobipocket....
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Old 04-25-2009, 07:06 PM   #12
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I think I read it.
People don't buy extension. Most people have no idea what "file extension" mean and have by default "hide known file extension". People buy ebooks by format. PDF, MS Lit, ePub, Mobipocket....
Of course they do. But the reader software uses the extension to determine if it can be read. People actually have to be forced to deal with formats and they can be forced to deal with extensions if it solves the problem. (Much of the time the extension and the format are the same.) They really just want to buy by the title and have it work.

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Old 04-26-2009, 07:06 AM   #13
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From my personal experience with average Joe, forcing people to deal with extension might not work. Many of them have difficulties understanding folder structure in Windows environment.
People want to read books, not to invest their free time into learning new concepts.
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Old 04-26-2009, 09:18 AM   #14
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From my personal experience with average Joe, forcing people to deal with extension might not work.
The idea behind extensions is that user's don't have to deal with them, the computer does the heavy lifting. If Adobe ePubs were .epuba then FBReader (say) would not even try to open them, and Adobe Digital Editions would open them by default. Similarly, .epube would be mapped to eReader and would be ignored by the other Readers. However, Adobe has already "squatted" on .epub and are unlikely to change to .epuba. I have a similar post in the .ePUB extension should be reserved for non-DRM eBooks thread, which is a better location for discussion of how to implement this.
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