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Adobe's epub format and reader

The Adobe announcements last week were very interesting, but not for the reasons most people seem to think.

Here's the real story: The most important producer of print publishing tools is backing an XML-based format for electronic delivery, by making it a (relatively) painless option after preparing something for print. This means the new electronic format can come out the kind of editorial process publishers are already using. With all the limitations that this XML format has, it's much more in reach of publishers who can't afford to change all their editorial processes in a single go.

There's been a lot of concentration on the idea that a standard format will speed ebook reader adoption. This is something that vendors like Sony are realizing is important. Is this their first open format use in electronic media?. And indeed for the long-term future, I think that this is an important issue for vendors. For publishers and businesses right now, though, the focus on new reading platforms is insignificant outside of niche markets.

The Web is the platform that matters, especially for non-fiction content. At Tizra we've concentrated on PDF as the format that most publishers have in quantity, and on making it as close to a first-class web citizen as possible: that means we don't re-implement features (like bookmarks and emailing links) that web browsers already have, but instead we create a site where those features work as usual. That also means delivering pages as embedded content in HTML (with file download as an option, where it makes sense).

With our deep XML experience, we are going to be looking closely at how to take what is still designed as a monolithic file format for delivery and "Warehousing", and really get web marketing and product oomph out of it. Disaggregating .epub files will be as important as it is for PDF, but the results will be a little more precise and considerably more flexible.

And when we do it, PDF backfile or primary content will be delivered and managed the same way as .epub documents are managed.

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