Digital books and free standards

The digital books today resembles the first days of the internet. At the beginning we had services such as BBS which didn’t have any governing standard and thus created a fragmented world. Then Sir Tim Barners Lee has invented the HTML which lad the way to the web as we know it today, but even then many companies started to invent their own extensions to HTML and again we faced a fragmented world. This lad to the creation of the World Wide Web Consortium the W3C which promotes open standards on the web. In 2008 the W3C launched the W3 foundation (W3F) to promote the use of the standard and not just enhance the standard.

Today it seems the W3C and W3F had succeeded their mission and we can view most websites using any standard compliant browser we choose be it Chrome, Firefox Safari or any other browser.

This was the goal of the W3C that no matter what User Agent we choose to use, we can still get similar user experience.

The IDPF seems to be facing similar situation now. In today’s world each big vendor pushes it’s own standard that naturally works best only on one platform. So the digital book world of today is fragmented like the internet in its early days.

The IDPF is promoting the EPUB standard so that users can read the same book no matter what Reading System they choose to use and no matter what platform they use to read, be it Android tablet, iPad, smart phone, PC etc.

In my view, Reading System will become ubiquitous as browsers today and it will not matter which one you use to read your books. All reading system will be able to read all books, just as today most browsers can show most websites.

It took few years for the Web to get to this situation and it will take few years for digital books to reach similar situation.

In the future we will not understand how we could except such a fragmented world as it is today.

I have always pushed for open standard. Part of this effort was done while being the head of the Israeli W3C office.

Now when I am not part of the W3C, I joined the IDPF in order to promote similar things in the digital books world. Promoting the use of free and open standards in digital books.

I have also established Helicon Books to push the same goal, we strive to give the best solutions to publishers and other vendors in the digital book world.

Now it seems that efforts of the IDPF start to show their fruits – EPUB3 is gaining popularity. With the new announcement by the AAP (
It seems that more and more publishers will go with EPUB3
This is another step in adopting free and open standard.


Posted in books, Digital publishing, IDPF

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