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Old 10-26-2009, 11:32 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by fjtorres View Post
The article is factually correct.

The epub "standard" that allows consumers to buy epub books is owned lock, stock, and barrel by adobe.
This is factually incorrect, but to a large degree true. Adobe does not own the ePub standard at all, but they are big enough to be able to influence it any way they want. Take a look at Here's the list of members:

They control the DRM, the back-end servers, the reader software, and the file creation software. For all intents and purposes, epub is what adobe says it is, not what the nominal spec says.
Since the commercial viability of the format does depend so heavily on DRM and device interoperability, they do have a strong edge. Although they do sell their own creation tools, publishers are by no means bound to use them. They do not have a hold on the reader software or the creation tools, but that's OK for them. The DRM component is where the money is.

Just look at the calibre and sigil forums; whenever there is an issue displaying an epub file, who has to adjust? The adobe software? Or the conversion tool?
It's always easier for the small guy to adapt to the big guy. For the past 20 years, whenever there has been a technical standard, bigger companies' interpretations of that standard would prevail for the sake of interoperability.

Since the committee spec, like all committee specs, is loose and has room for interpretation, and there is no serious compliance program with teeth, the dominant interpretation is adobe's.
This is largely true, but what "teeth" would you recommend? There is no such enforcement agency for mpeg video, and yet there is interoperability. There is no enforcement for jpeg yet I can open jpeg images on any platform.

Moving forward, epub is, in effect, adobe-controlled. No two ways about it; even B&N had to go through Adobe to implement their own *proprietary* DRM, which has now been subsumed and is controlled and licensed by adobe.
I don't think we know enough about the DRM that B&N will have, or how it significanly differs from what we have today. From everything that I've read, it could be implemented with the exact same technology as we have today. The "social" aspect of it is not a new thing; libraries do it today with ePub. Until we actually see what they are doing, we won't know what the interoperability is like, if it really is a new DRM system or just a new provisioning model.

Absent a certification program that can tell adobe to stick to the letter of the spec, the true test of epub compliance is how it displays on ADE.
That is true control.
I do agree completely that Adobe has a very strong hold on the ePub standard, but I still do not see a certification program helping. It's a published standard, and it is in Adobe's best interest to conform to that standard. Note that the standard does provide for implementing arbitrary DRM systems while maintaining compliance. From the standard:

"Reading Systems may include additional processing functions, such as compression, indexing, encryption, rights management, and distribution. "

And since they are the ones pushing for its adoption as a counter to big bad evil Amazon they are in fact "developing the epub standard".
They're not the only ones. The eBook reader manufacturers are pushing for it also. Sony is not one of the "small guys" and does carry a lot of weight.

Nothing to fault the author for, other than not fully documenting his facts.
But the facts, he's got them right.
He didn't. As stated several times in this thread, IPDS owns the standard, but Adobe does have a great deal of control. The article is factually incorrect.

- Ed
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