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April 12 2012

Ebook formats and the allure of customer lock-in

Sanders Kleinfeld (@sandersk), author of "HTML5 for Publishers" and publishing technologies specialist at O'Reilly, recently sat down with me to talk about ebook formats, challenges publishers face accommodating the formats and how HTML5 might change the game. With all the various ebook formats and platforms requiring multiple publishing outputs becoming something of a hindrance to workflows, I asked if he thought we'd ever see a universal format. He said he worries that vendors won't be willing to give up customer lock-in:

"I'm really optimistic, and I really hope so. I think that's what they're striving for with the EPUB3 standard, which is based around all these open technologies — HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript ... What's disappointing right now is that Amazon is very set on their Mobi format for their Kindle device, Apple has made strides away from EPUB 3 with their latest iBooks 2.0 and iBooks Author ... I think vendors that make these devices are interested in maintaining that lock-in for customers. That's a challenge the industry faces — trying to push things back toward open standards, which I think is best for everyone." (Discussed at 2:43.)

He also said a lot of what's behind DRM is about achieving customer lock-in and that vendors might be obstacles in that regard as well. (Discussed at 4:21.)

You can view our entire interview in the following video:

TOC Latin America — Being held April 20, TOC Latin America will focus on standards, global digital publishing trends, case studies of innovative publishers in Latin America, consumer habits, and much more.

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April 02 2012

Books should be as easy to create as websites

This post is part of the TOC podcast series. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.


There are countless author and book production platforms to choose from these days. So why would you want to use a new one like PressBooks? In this TOC interview, I sat down with Hugh McGuire (@hughmcguire), co-author of "Book: A Futurist's Manifesto" and founder of PressBooks to help answer that question. I should point out that I'm a fan of the platform. In fact, that's one of the reasons we agreed to have Hugh create and produce "Book: A Futurist's Manifesto" on PressBooks.

Highlights from the full video interview (below) include:

  • Start with a web first approach — HTML is a great starting point and allows you to go in a variety of directions for other formats. It's all about making it as easy to create a book as it is to create a website. [Discussed at the 1:30 mark.]
  • Built on WordPress — PressBooks leverages the CMS power of WordPress and will be familiar to a large audience of writers and editors. [Discussed at 3:18.]
  • Putting book content online — The web offers a great way to spread information, but ebooks are typically off that grid. PressBooks allows you to leverage social interactions for a book. [Discussed at 4:15.]
  • Digital first, POD second — Even though PressBooks is an obvious solution for digital publishing, it's not exclusive to that. In fact, "Book: A Futurist's Manifesto" will also be available via POD when the project is complete. [Discussed at 8:10.]
  • The value of "free" — "Book: A Futurist's Manifesto" is and will remain freely accessible on PressBooks. Will that ultimately cannibalize or help promote sales of the paid versions? [Discussed at 9:00.]

You can view the entire interview in the following video.

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