|Last modified: May 21, 2003|
|Open Ebook Initiative|
"The Open eBook Forum (OeBF) is an international trade and standards organization. Our members consist of hardware and software companies, publishers, authors, users of electronic books, and related organizations whose common goals are to establish specifications and standards for electronic publishing. The Forum's work will foster the development of applications and products that will benefit creators of content, makers of reading systems and, most importantly, consumers."
Earlier description: "The Open eBook Forum (OEBF) is an international, non-profit trade organization whose mission is to promote the development of a thriving epublishing market. To do this, it creates, maintains and promotes adoption of epublishing standards and brings together stakeholders in the epublishing world by providing an inclusive forum for discussion of epublishing-related social, legal and technical issues."
[January 02, 2001] "The Open eBook Publication Structure Specification Version 1.01 has been placed before the OeBF membership for comment. The OeBF Board of Directors has also chosen to concurrently ask for public comments. This update has not been approved by the OeBF membership and has no official standing as of yet. The review period will end on January 14, 2001. Subsequent to that date the OeBF membership will vote on the proposed specification after all comments have been reconciled."
[September 21, 1999] An announcement from September 21, 1999 described the release of the 'final version' of the OEB specification 1.0. OEB 1.0 uses many familiar HTML semantics, but is in an XML-based syntax.
[August 10, 1999] Open eBook Publication Structure 1.0 (Draft Version 014, July 29, 1999) was released in August 1999. From section 1.4.1: "OEB is based on XML because of its generality and simplicity, and because it increases the likelihood that documents will survive longer. XML also provides well-defined rules for the syntax of documents, which decreases the cost to implementers and reduces incompatibility across systems. Further, XML enables extensibility because it is not tied to any particular set of element types, it supports internationalization, and it encourages document markup that can represent document's internal parts more directly, making them amenable not only to formatting, but to many types of computer processing. OEB reading systems must be XML processors as defined in XML 1.0. All OEB documents must be well-formed XML documents, although they need not be valid XML documents."
[May 27, 1999] The Open eBook Initiative's Authoring Group recently released a draft version [0.9b, May 24, 1999] of the Open eBook Specification. "The purpose of the Open E-Book 1.0 Publication Structure Specification is to provide a base specification for representing the content of electronic books. The specification is intended to give content providers (e.g., publishers, and others who have content to be displayed) and tool providers minimal and common guidelines which ensure seamless fidelity, accuracy, accessibility, and presentation of electronic content over various electronic book platforms. The OEB 1.0 specification combines subsets and applications of existing standards. Together, these facilitate the construction, organization, presentation, and unambiguous interchange of electronic documents (XML, XML Namespaces, HTML 4.0, [XHTML pending] CSS1, the Dublin Core metadata language, the USMARC relator code list, the Unicode character set, and XML DTDs for the subset of HTML supported). OEB is based on XML because of its generality and simplicity, and because it increases the likelihood that documents will survive longer. XML also provides tighter rules for the syntax of documents, which decreases the cost to implementers and reduces incompatibility across systems. Further, XML enables extensibility because it is not tied to any particular set of element types, it supports internationalization, and it encourages document markup that can represent document's internal parts more directly, making them amenable not only to formatting, but to many types of computer processing." In this specification, an 'OEB Package' is "an XML file that is valid according to a DTD defined in this specification. This file must be included in every OEB Publication to identify all other files or content portions, and to provide descriptive and access information about them."
OeBF Publication Structure 1.2 Recommended Specification. "The membership of the Open eBook Forum elected to elevate the status of Publication Structure 1.2 to a Recommended Specification in a vote closing on 2400 UTC on August 14, 2002." See the PDF or XHTML version. [cache PDF, ZIP, ZIP DTDs]
[May 21, 2002] "Open eBook Publication Structure 1.2." Open eBook Forum Working Draft. April 17, 2002. Appendix A contains the OeBF Package DTD; Appendix B contains the basic OeBF Document DTD. "The Open eBook Publication Structure (OEBPS) is a specification for representing the content of electronic books. Specifically: (1) The specification is intended to give content providers (e.g., publishers, authors, and others who have content to be displayed) and tool providers minimal and common guidelines which ensure fidelity, accuracy, accessibility, and adequate presentation of electronic content over various electronic book platforms. (3) The goal of this specification is to define a standard means of content description for use by purveyors of electronic books (publishers, agents, authors et al.) allowing such content to be provided to multiple Reading Systems... OEBPS is based on XML because of its generality and simplicity, and because XML documents are likely to adapt well to future technologies and uses. XML also provides well-defined rules for the syntax of documents, which decreases the cost to implementers and reduces incompatibility across systems. Further, XML is extensible: it is not tied to any particular set of element types, it supports internationalization, and it encourages document markup that can represent a document's internal parts more directly, making them amenable to automated formatting and other types of computer processing..." This version: "Original planning for the new OEBPS specification identified, as reported earlier, four areas for enhancement: content provider control over presentation, support for international content, linking and navigation functionality, and metadata support. The WG has worked intensely over the last year and a half and has made considerable progress in several of these areas. However we decided, with the approval of the OEBF Board and Systems Working Group, that rather than delaying the release of completed work in presentation control, the highest priority area, until all enhancements were completed, we should make presentation control work available now, particularly as it could be done with minimal impact on the conformance of existing content. Consequently OEBPS 1.2 is a tightly constrained update to OEBPS 1.0.1: it provides a great deal of new functionality in the area of presentation control, but it deliberately minimizes all other changes to 1.0.1..." Associated note from Allen_Renear (Chair, OeBF Publication Structure Working Group): "Public comment is invited on version 1.2 of the OEBF Publication Structure, now a 'Draft Document' undergoing OEBF membership review ... a reminder that the review period for OEBPS 1.2 'Draft Document' ends on May 27, 2002. Please send any comments to email@example.com. We would also appreciate hearing from anyone who has reviewed the draft, regardless of whether or not they have any questions, proposed corrections, or other specific comments." [cache]
OeBF Rights and Rules Working Group
[April 18, 2003] On April 18, 2003 "the OeBF Principal Membership voted to approve the RRWG Coodinated Requirements Document as a 'Recommended' Document. The RRWG Coodinated Requirements Document represents more than a year of work by the Rights and Rules Working Group (RRWG) to collect, normalize, prioritize, and coordinate requirements for a rights grammar. RRWG began with nearly 400 requirements submitted by publishers, librarians, technology vendors, and other members of the eBook community. RRWG took these requirements through all the stages outlined by the Requirements Working Group, including coordination of the Version 1.0 requirements with the Metadata and Identifiers Working Group and the Publication Structure Working Group. RRWG is using the document as the basis for a rights grammar specification and has offered it to the MPEG-21 effort as a draft statement of requirements from the eBook community. RRWG believes the document would have more force as both the basis for our specification and a submission to MPEG-21 as an official OeBF output document..." See reference following.
[March 2003] OeBF Rights Grammar Requirements: Required Rights Features for Digital Books. Rights and Rules Working Group. Open eBook Forum. March 2003. 38 pages. "...In August 2002, the RRWG held a joint meeting with the Metadata and Identifiers Working Group (MIWG) to resolve differences in wording for 3 of the Version 1.0 requirements. The secretary of the Rights and Rules Working Group also discussed several requirements with the chair of the Publication Structure Working Group (PSWG). The meeting and discussion resulted in agreement between RRWG, MIWG, and PSWG on the wording of all Version 1.0 requirements. The meeting and discussion also identified some issues for joint exploration among the working groups. Beneath each requirement is a list of one or more numbers. These numbers are the IDs in the OeBF requirements database of the original stakeholder requirements to which each normalized requirement is linked..." See also the reference below. [cache PDF, cache HTML]
[October 02, 2002] The OeBF website homepage reported on October 2, 2002: "The Rights and Rules Working Group (RRWG) has selected XrML as a foundation rights expression language for developing detailed material in its Rights Grammar specification. The group will soon begin intensive work on a draft of the specification, which will be submitted for approval by the organization as a whole..." Commentary by Bill Rosenblatt in 'DRM Standards 2002': "September 30, 2002: The Open eBook Forum's Rights and Rules Working Group has selected XrML to use as a basis for its own rights specification definition effort. This selection -- XrML was chosen over IPR Systems' ODRL -- is indeed another feather in the cap of ContentGuard, which owns the intellectual property associated with XrML. However, two issues are worth pointing out that put a damper on the significance of this development. First, although the OeBF puts a lot of work into developing standards, those standards' track record of adoption in real products has been mixed. For example, the OeBF took over the eBook Exchange (EBX) initiative in March 2001, and EBX defined a standard for e-commerce and DRM in eBooks, but it was only implemented in one software product: that which is now known as Adobe Content Server. Second, if the OeBF's rights working group is going to use XrML as a starting point for the development of its own rights specification language, it raises troubling questions about the possibility of MPEG-21, OASIS, and now OeBF all developing their own variants of XrML. The last thing the DRM world needs is a standard that "forks" as Unix did a decade ago. XrML is a promising rights specification language standard, and these various bodies owe it to themselves and their constituencies to ensure that they cooperate to keep it, if not on a single track, then at least to a common core with application-specific extensions..." Note: The selection of XrML as the basis for OeBF's DRM may limit the adoption of the Open eBook Forum's specification(s): XrML and ISO MPEG-21 Part 5 (REL) are legally encumbered, according to a statement from ContentGuard about NDA and applicable licenses. ODRL and several other rights-expression solutions, by contrast, have no licensing requirements for use.
[September 17, 2002] In keeping with the WG proposal, the mission of the Rights and Rules Working Group (RRWG) "is to create an open and commercially viable standard for interoperability of digital rights management (DRM) systems, providing trusted transmission of electronic publications (ePublications) among rights holders, intermediaries, and users." See the OeBF Rights and Rules Working Group 'Matched Requirements' which aligns requirements from AAP, EBX, ContentGuard, and Reuters; constructs a set of Unified Requirement where possible (44 pages). Presented to the OASIS RLTC. [cache/proposal]
RSL event lineup for the OeBF Fall Working Group Summit and AAP Emerging Technologies Committee Meeting, September 18 - 20, 2002. New York City, NY, USA: [AAP Emerging Technologies Committee (ETC) Meeting September 18th, 9am to 11am] "OeBF Rights Specification Language (RSL) Activities: (1) Tom Diaz of Adobe Systems will report on the activities of OeBF's Rights and Rules Working Group, which is seeking to establish a standard language for specifying rights in DRM products. (2) Renato Iannella (IPR Systems) will give a presentation on Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL), a candidate language for adoption. (3) Representatives of ContentGuard will discuss Extensible Rights Mark-up Language (XrML), another candidate RSL being considered by the Working Group..."
[May 2001] OeBF Rights and Rules Working Group. The mission of the OeBF Rights and Rules Working Group is "to create an open and commercially viable standard for interoperability of digital rights management (DRM) systems, providing trusted exchange of electronic publications (ePublications) among rights holders, intermediaries, and users. The scope of this Working Group will be to gather, analyze, prioritize, and coordinate requirements into the development and completion of an OeBF DRM specification." The OeBF web site URLs were password-protected as of 2001-11-14:  Members URL: http://www.openebook.org/members/rights-rules;  Participants URL: http://www.openebook.org/rightsrules. Contacts: Scott Edwards (Chair; Software and Information Industry Association); Tom Diaz (Vice Chair; Adobe Systems, Inc.); Bob Mathews (Secretary; Adobe Systems, Inc.). Email contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. From the FAQ document: "The OEBPS itself does not directly address DRM and copy protection. However the Open eBook Forum, the organization responsible for the OEBPS, recognizes that these are extremely important issues for the publishing community and is leading work in this area. Last winter (2001), EBX, an industry consortium for protecting copyright in electronic books, merged with OeBF. Today the OeBF Rights and Rules Working Group is the center of DRM activity in the OeBF. The Publication Structure Working Group and the Rights and Rules Working Group are closely coordinating their activities to provide the electronic publishing community with a consistent and mutually supporting set of specifications." As of May 2001, The OeBF Rights and Rules Working Group involves representatives of more than a dozen leading software and information companies, including Adobe, ContentGuard, Digital Goods, Digital Owl, Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, IBM, InterTrust, McGraw-Hill Companies, Microsoft, Random House, and Rightscom. See also the DRM framework document. For related work, see: (1) OASIS Rights Language; (2) Patents and Open Standards; (3) XML and Digital Rights Management (DRM).
[June 24, 2002] According to a presentation from Chris Barlas (Rightscom.com) to the LTSC DREL workshop ["The Open eBook Forum. Overview: Standards Process, 2002 Work Plan" at IEEE-LTSC DREL Meeting June 2002]: "The Rights and Rules WG is building on EBX work which was integrated in Spring 2001. (1) Requirements Process: Information was gathered in 2001; Requirements document was produced October 2001; Includes Rights Expression Language, Trust Model, and Other Requirements for Rights and Rules; (2) Working towards specifications for a Rights Grammar and for Security; (3) Rights Expression Language specification due at the end of 2002..."
OeBF Rights and Rules Working Group status update 2002-05: "The Rights and Rules Working Group is addressing DRM issues for ebooks including the rights languages, and specification and management of a trust model for ebook vendors, services and devices. It has completed gathering and analysing significant numbers of requirements from multiple stakeholders. The requirements, many from the library community, cover technical, social, legal and business issues for e-publishers and consumers. The Rights and Rules Working Group has now commenced the next phase of defining the semantics (and grammar) for a rights language. This will be based on a prioritised list of the above requirements... ['From Digital Rights Management in the Higher Education Sector, edited by Renato Iannella (IPR Systems Pty Ltd) on behalf of Macquarie University. [cache]
"OeBF Rights Grammar Requirements Required Rights Features for Digital Books." Rights and Rules Working Group. Open eBook Forum. May 2002. 37 pages. See "Open Ebook Initiative." [posting]
OeBF Rights and Rules Working Group 'Matched Requirements'. Aligns requirements from AAP, EBX, ContentGuard, and Reuters; constructs a set of Unified Requirement where possible. 44 pages.
General: Articles, News, Earlier References
[May 20, 2003] "OEBPS: The Universal Consumer eBook Format?" By Jon Noring. In eBookWeb (May 19, 2003). ['In the article, I outline seven requirements a universal consumer ebook format must fulfill (one of which is compatibility with an XML-based publishing workflow), and show that OEBPS adequately fulfills those requirements. The XML conformance of OEBPS certainly plays a fundamental role in the attractiveness of OEBPS as a universal ebook format, as noted several times in the article. Your thoughts and criticisms are welcome.'] "Looking at the ebook landscape today, I am troubled by the large and growing number of essentially incompatible, proprietary consumer ebook formats and associated ebook reading applications and hardware... Publishers, both large and small, are now overwhelmed by the need to supply their content to end-users in these formats, many of which do not integrate well into their publishing workflow... Likewise, end-users are equally confused by the myriad formats, and chagrined by the incompatibility between them, making it more difficult to use multiple devices, OS, and reading software of their choice. End-users clearly do not wish to be tied to any one hardware or software platform for the ebooks they purchase -- they want their ebooks to be optimally readable on the systems of their choice, now and into the future... Is a single, universal consumer ebook format possible, one which meets nearly all the needs of both publishers and end-users? This article presents a vision for such a universal consumer ebook format, to outline the important requirements, and demonstrate that, yes, there now exists just such a format meeting these requirements: The Open eBook Publication Structure (OEBPS)... The OEBPS Specification is maintained by the Open eBook Forum, a non-profit and independent ebook standards and trade organization representing a large number of companies and organizations with quite diverse (and oftentimes competing) interests in the ebook universe... The OEBPS Specification specifies a coherent, ebook-optimized framework for organizing XML documents containing book content into a powerful ebook representation of the work... The word framework is especially important, because without an overarching framework it is not possible to adequately represent the richness and specific intricacies of book publications using a simple collection of independent hypertext-linked XML documents. Three distinct quantities in the OEBPS universe must be defined: OEBPS Publication, OEBPS Package, and OEBPS Document. An OEBPS Publication is the complete set of files comprising an ebook publication conforming to the OEBPS Specification. An OEBPS Publication must include one OEBPS Package document (which is an XML document, not part of the book content itself, describing the Publication's organizational framework), and at least one OEBPS Document (which is an XML document containing part or all of the book's actual content.) Other auxiliary files, such as images, style sheets, etc., may also be present in the OEBPS Publication..."
[July 02, 2001] Open eBook Publication Structure 1.0.1. Recommended Specification. Open eBook Forum. July 2, 2001. "The purpose of the Open eBook Publication Structure is to provide a specification for representing the content of electronic books. Specifically: (1) The specification is intended to give content providers (e.g., publishers, and others who have content to be displayed) and tool providers minimal and common guidelines which ensure fidelity, accuracy, accessibility, and presentation of electronic content over various electronic book platforms. (2) The specification seeks to reflect established content format standards. (3) The goal of this specification is to provide the purveyors of electronic-book content (publishers, agents, authors et al.) a format for use in providing content to multiple reading systems... OEB is based on XML because of its generality and simplicity, and because this increases the likelihood that documents will survive longer. XML also provides well-defined rules for the syntax of documents, which decreases the cost to implementers and reduces incompatibility across systems. Further, XML enables extensibility because it is not tied to any particular set of element types, it supports internationalization, and it encourages document markup that can represent a document's internal parts more directly, making them amenable to formatting and other types of computer processing... Version 1.0.1 of the OEB Publication Structure is not meant to be a new specification. It does not add additional features to the specification, but rather removes some ambiguities and corrects errors. The changes made fall into one of three broad categories: clarifications of ambiguities; correction of typographical errors; and correction of other errors or inconsistencies." Available also in HTML and packaged .ZIP formats. Cache: PDF and .ZIP
Version 1.0.1 DTD files from the .ZIP distribution:  Character entities for the Open eBook publication structure version 1.0.1;  Document Type Definition for the Open eBook document version 1.0.1;  Document Type Definition for the Open eBook package version 1.0.1. [cache, .ZIP]
'Final Version' 1.0 Specification in 'HTML' OEB format. [local archive copy]
The OEB Package DTD (19990921). "+//ISBN 0-9673008-1-9//DTD OEB 1.0 Package//EN". Authors: Steve DeRose, Gunter Hille, Ben Trafford, and Garret Wilson. [local archive copy]
The OEB Document DTD (19990921). "+//ISBN 0-9673008-1-9//DTD OEB 1.0 Document//EN". "This DTD has been derived from XHTML 1.0 and HTML 4.0. It is a pure subset of neither. [local archive copy]
The OEB Character entities (19990921). "+//ISBN 0-9673008-1-9//DTD OEB 1.0 Entities//EN". [local archive copy]
OEB 1.0 specification package - 'This version contains the specification as a complete OEB publication (with Package file, etc.).
Open eBook Publication Structure 1.0 (Draft Version 014, July 29, 1999). Appendix B of the draft provides the OEB Document DTD. [local archive copy]
Open eBook Specification - Version 0.9b
[May 04, 2001] Note: E-Book Zone at SeyboldReports.com. "The goal of E-Book Zone is to provide readers with thorough analysis and complete, up-to-date news coverage of the rapidly evolving e-book space. E-Book Zone offers you free access to our in-depth product directory, community forums and news briefs. Complete access to SeyboldReports.com's exhaustive e-book coverage -- which includes feature stories, company profiles, product reviews and expert commentary -- can be obtained through a variety of subscription options..."
[August 23, 2001] "International eBook Standards Body Updates Industry Specification. eBook Device and Software Vendors Praise New Standard." - "The Open eBook Forum (www.openebook.org) has released an updated version of the Open eBook Publication Structure Specification. Entitled `Publication Structure Specification 1.0.1,' the new industry standard for authoring reusable content for eBook devices and readers supercedes the 1.0 version of the OEB Specification. The OEB Publication Structure (OEBPS) is an XML-based specification for the content, structure, and presentation of electronic books. Developed and maintained by the Open eBook Forum, a group of over 85 leading organizations involved in electronic publishing, the standards body and trade association includes Gold Sponsorship from Microsoft Corporation, Adobe Systems and Intertrust Technologies... Version 1.0.1 of OEBPS, which is based on over a year of industry experience with 1.0, does not add additional features to the specification but only removes ambiguities and corrects errors. Version 2.0 of OEBPS, which will introduce new features and substantial enhancements -- particularly in the areas of presentation, linking and navigation, internationalization, and metadata -- is currently under development. 'Comprehensive specifications that achieve the goal of simultaneously supporting both interoperability and innovative functionality are absolutely critical if electronic publishing is going to deliver on its promises,' said Allen Renear, Chair of the OeBF Publication Structure Working Group and Associate Professor of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. 'The OEB Publication Structure has solidly established itself in ebook publishing as precisely what is needed to build a thriving industry.' The Publication Structure Working Group encourages all participants and interested parties to download copies of the OEBPS 1.0.1 specification from the Open eBook Forum web site... The Open eBook Forum (OeBF) is an international, non-profit trade and standards organization. The Forum's mission is to promote the development of a thriving eBook market. To do this, it creates, maintains and promotes adoption of eBook standards and brings together all the participants in the eBook world by providing an inclusive forum for discussion of eBook related social, legal, and technical issues."
[May 04, 2001] "NetLibrary Adopts OEB Standard." From The Bulletin: Seybold News & Views on Electronic Publishing (May 04, 2001). "Last January, in a move designed to cut costs, online library service provider NetLibrary began charging publishers for the conversion services it originally provided for free. With sales sputtering, the company found that its in-house conversion services were a financial liability. Now, less than three months later, NetLibrary has scrapped all on-site conversion services for its NetLibrary service and cut nearly 90 jobs in the process. The conversion policy for MetaText, an interactive digital textbook developer acquired by NetLibrary last year, will remain unchanged. In addition, the company also announced that it has dropped its use of a proprietary format based on Folio Views in favor of the XML/HTML-based publication structure developed by the Open e-Book Forum (OeBF) consortium. Under the company's new service policy, publishers can submit any electronic file meeting OeBF standards, or NetLibrary will outsource any necessary conversion labor to another facility and act as middleman between the publisher and the conversion house..." See details in the announcement: "netLibrary Adopts Open eBook Specification Standards. Strategic decision positions the company to deliver eBooks faster, more efficiently."
[June 13, 2001] "NetLibrary Adopts OEB. Drops proprietary format and conversion services, cuts 90 jobs." By Mike Letts. In Seybold Report: Analyzing Publishing Technology [ISSN: 1533-9211] Volume 1, Number 4 (May 21, 2001), pages 42-43. "Last January, in a move designed to cut costs, online library service provider NetLibrary began charging publishers for the free conversion services it originally provided. With sales sputtering, the company found that its inhouse conversion services were a financial liability. Now, less than three months later, NetLibrary has scrapped all on-site conversion services for its NetLibrary service and cut nearly 90 jobs in the process. The conversion policy for MetaText, an interactive digital textbook developer acquired by NetLibrary last year, will remain unchanged. In addition, the company also announced that it has dropped its use of a proprietary format based on Folio Views in favor of the XML/HTML-based publication structure developed by the Open e-Book Forum (OeBF, www.openebook.org) consortium. Under the company's new service policy, publishers can submit any electronic file meeting OeBF standards, or NetLibrary will outsource any necessary conversion labor to another facility and act as middleman between the publisher and the conversion house..."
[February 02, 2000] Microsoft Reader Mailing List. An independent and unmoderated list for the discussion of all technical matters pertaining to the Microsoft Reader for ebooks. Administered by Jon E. Noring. A partial list of allowable discussion topics include: (1) Technical publishing matters associated with the creation of works in LIT format. This includes, as a partial list, OEBPS, HTML, CSS, XML, conversion, compilers, etc. (2) End-user issues, such as the installation of Microsoft Reader (both Desktop and PocketPC versions), reading, and accessibility. (3) Software development using Microsoft's Reader Content SDK; this includes the development of new LIT compilers. 4) Security and server issues."
[April 13, 2001] "E-Textbooks Test Emerging Platforms." By Mike Letts. In Seybold Report: Analyzing Publishing Technology [ISSN: 1533-9211] Volume 1, Number 1 (April 02, 2001), pages 25-30. ['Textbooks: E-Books Best Chance for Success? Textbook publishers are beginning to take advantage of high levels of computer literacy, while developing new ideas about multimedia technology and electronic formats. But issues such as conversion, content management and distribution format remain hurdles. In this article, we begin profiling e-book vendors working to define textbook delivery platforms of the future.'] "We researched several electronic textbook vendors, which we will present over the course of several issues, to uncover exactly how applicable their technology is for today's textbook market, and how close those companies are to implementing adequate solutions in the classroom. Issues such as authoring and content conversion, cost (both to the publisher and the consumer), multimedia functionality, format support, and experience in the classroom will be addressed to provide publishers with a better sense of the solutions that are currently out there and how the technologies are evolving. Over the next several issues, we'll profile vendors such as Poliplus, Versaware, Rovia, MetaText, WizeUp Digital, and ByteSizeBooks. What we found were a wide range of answers -- some are further along than others, each providing unique advantages to readers and publishers alike... One of the most interesting companies operating in the electronic textbook space today is GoReader. A relative newcomer to the space, GoReader has developed a dedicated device designed specifically for academic use. The company is using Linux as its operating system. As a result, GoReader has built its own Java-based user interface on top of the OS that is based on an XML browser. The file format supported is OEB... The GoReader device has a memory capacity of 5GB -- enough, the company argues, to store approximately 350, 1,000-page high-graphics textbooks -- and has a 206 MHz internal processor... At the moment, GoReader does all conversion in-house, a tall order for a staff of 12 and contracts Addison Wesley and Harcourt in the works. However, to alleviate some of this backlog is a third-party authoring toolkit still in development. Professors will also be able to use the toolkit -- which will allow them to create OEB-based files, add hyperlinks, and author content through the GoReader server -- will be password protected and available only to designated GoReader devices... GoReader's proprietary conversion utility is automated to extract XML or PDF formats from Quark files, as well as convert directly from PDF to XML. The company also handles PWPT, Word files, and printed text. Mark Cassin, director of sales at GoReader, said the files will be converted to an XML format at no charge to the publisher." Also available in PDF format.
[April 26, 2001] "netLibrary Adopts Open eBook Specification Standards. Strategic decision positions the company to deliver eBooks faster, more efficiently." - netLibrary, a leading provider of eBooks and Internet-based content/collection management services, today announced the adoption of industry standards for netLibrary eBooks. netLibrary has been a member of the Open eBook Forum, and has actively supported the development of industry standards for the past two years. As a leader in the development of the institutional library eBook market, this strategic move positions netLibrary to significantly accelerate the adoption and use of eBooks by its library customers while continuing to support a quality eBook experience and maintain core functionality. Adoption of OeBF standards will result in lower cost and faster conversion processes which will facilitate the availability of more front-list titles from the world's leading publishers, many of whom are already working with netLibrary. Going forward, netLibrary will accept electronic files meeting OeBF standards directly from publishers or, at the publisher's request, manage the conversion process on behalf of the publisher. Doing so will result in the re-allocation of conversion work to outsource vendors, changing the scope of conversion processes handled in-house. "This move will enhance our ability to provide our library customers with the quality, current content they desire, while responding to publisher requests encouraging us to align with OeBF standards," said Rob Kaufman, President and CEO of netLibrary. "After careful study, we determined this change will benefit our more than 5,000 institutional library customers as well as our 300 internationally known publishers. In addition, it will create efficiencies that will strengthen our business model and allow us to focus more of our resources directly on supporting the publishers and libraries we work with daily," Kaufman continued. Conversion processing for the company's MetaText Division will remain unchanged. Several steps in the MetaText conversion process are already being outsourced. Other activities, such as the creation of sample pages and MTML, are too new to outsource at this time and will continue to be performed at netLibrary.
[May 05, 2000] "Open eBook Forum Announces First Annual Spring Meeting Series. New Organization Addresses Standards, Broader Use of Electronic Publishing." - "The Open eBook Forum (OEBF) will host its First Annual Spring Meeting Series in New York City on May 22, 23 and 24, including its first General Membership Meeting on May 23. The OEBF, organized by representatives of some 35 organizations in December 1999, invites all stakeholders involved in electronic book publishing to attend meetings on May 22 and 23 to discuss standards, digital rights management, and 'dual-stream' publishing - the simultaneous publication of print and electronic versions. These meetings are free and open to anyone in the electronic publishing community. The General Membership Meeting on May 23 is open only to OEBF members, and the Working Group Meetings scheduled for the 24 are open to members of those groups. Membership applications are now available at the OEBF website (www.openebook.org) and will be on hand at the public meetings on Monday and Tuesday. The OEBF, whose members include Random House, Inc.; Time Warner Trade Publishing, McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin; Gemstar (which includes both Nuvomedia and Softbook Press); Microsoft; IBM; netLibrary; Nokia; Adobe, Xerox, Intertrust, Brown University, Palm, Inc; and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), was founded specifically to help bridge the gap between the content and technology communities to support and enable the healthy growth of the electronic book publishing industry. The OEBF will work to develop standards and strategies, beginning in the areas of publication structure and digital rights management, with Working Group proposals in both areas already submitted to the membership. The OEBF will also support communications efforts to promote consumer awareness and adoption of eBooks and of the OEBF. The first meetings of Working Groups in all three areas are being held on May 24. In October 1998, 20 organizations met at the world's first eBook conference sponsored by NIST and began an informal effort to create the first technical specification for eBooks. The success of this informal effort led to the creation of the Open eBook Forum. The primary technical achievement of the OEBF has been the creation of the Open eBook Publication Structure specification approved on September 21, 1999. This standard for eBook file format and structure is based on HTML and XML, the languages used to create information for websites. The goal of the specification is to quickly create a critical mass of compelling content. A publisher can format a title once according to the specification, and the content will be compatible with a wide variety of reading devices. This agreement on a common set of file specifications will allow publishers to reach a large audience without separately reformatting their titles for each machine. This specification is designed to be compatible with the development plans of the major eBook efforts already underway."
[April 13, 2001] "Seybold Conference to Focus On Content, Digital Rights Management." By James Evans. In InfoWorld (April 11, 2001). "Members of the digital printing, publishing, and creative communities will converge on Boston this week [April 8-13, 2001] for Seybold Seminars, a conference that will focus this year on desktop and Web publishing, digital rights and document management, and e-books... A strong emphasis also will be put on XML tools to assist with getting content on the Web. Thirty-eight companies are listed as exhibiting HTML, SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language), and XML products and tools. E-books are also maturing gradually, and Palm and GoReader will have handheld reader devices on display at the show. Collaboration will also be a focus, with companies assisting in ways to maximize the use of existing content, text, pictures, and other information, Gable said... One of the larger vendors exhibiting this year is Adobe. It will have its new Acrobat 5.0 software on display, which lets users convert files into PDF, and is expected to demonstrate its forthcoming three-dimensional product for the Web, Atmosphere. Several digital rights management companies will be on hand to showcase products that assist with distributing and protecting content, including Entrust Technologies, Authentica, and ContentGuard. . . Reciprocal will launch its Reciprocal Storefront, which supports the distribution of content that has been packaged using DRM (digital rights management) technologies. .. North Atlantic Publishing Systems will show its new NAPS Translation System, which assists with conversion from Quark files and Microsoft Word/RTF to XML and from XML to HTML. With the NAPS Translation System, a publication can reformat print media content so that it can be used on a Web site, the company said..."
[January 22, 2001] "Penguin signs up for Texterity's PDF-to-XML conversion. First production-level contract for breakthrough technology." By Mark Walter. In The Seybold Report on Internet Publishing Volume 5, Number 5 (January 2001), page 34. "Is it possible to automatically convert PDF files into valid XML documents? Texterity believes the answer is yes, and book publisher Penguin Putnam is putting it to the test. The two companies recently announced that Penguin Putnam will convert existing author's works from PDF format into the Open E-Book XML format using Texterity's fully automated TextCafe service. Texterity, founded in 1991 by consultant Martin Hensel, started as specialists in SGML and XML DTD development, document analysis, composition and conversion. Over the course of many projects, it has developed considerable expertise in document conversion, a thankless task that inevitably accompanies any SGML/XML project...The Penguin conversion project is the first major production contract for TextCafe. The deal calls for Texterity to convert thousands of backlist Penguin Putnam books, primarily novels, into Open E-Book format. Penguin Putnam is the U.S. affiliate of Pearson's Penguin Group and owner of a variety of children's and adult trade imprints, from Avery to Viking... From a technical standpoint, TextCafe is an achievement: the first automated and commercially available PDF-to-XML conversion service."
[October 07, 2000] Open eBook Validator from Brown University, Scholarly Technology Group. The Open eBook Validator, a free service provided by Brown University's Scholarly Technology Group (STG) and NuvoMedia, Inc, makers of the Rocket eBook. The Validator enables authors and publishers to quickly and easily test their publications for conformance with the Open eBook Publication Structure Specification. The Validator service supplies several resources; see (1) what the Validator does and what doesn't it do; (2) why STG and NuvoMedia built the Validator; (3) sample output from the validator; (4) how to convert existing HTML content to Open eBook format; (5) how to identify OEB documents and packages; (6) [Open eBook Publication Structure] Conformance Rules; and (7) using the validator. Note that web site also provides an ISO-to-UTF XML Conversion Tool. From Richard Goerwitz, Brown University, STG. "Use this utility to convert an existing XML document in an ISO format (e.g., ISO-8859-1) to UTF-8 or UTF-16. To facilitate autodetection of the document's existing format (as per appendix F to the W3C XML spec), please be sure to prepend a valid XML declaration to your document..."
[October 26, 2000] "Opening the E-Book." By Didier Martin. From XML.com. October 18, 2000. ['Use XML and save the planet! Didier Martin opens up the e-book specification and finds out that it's easy to save paper by creating electronic books. Didier Martin has been busy experimenting with e-book technology, building books for the Microsoft reader, and for palmtop computers. Didier gives an overview of the Open E-Book specifications, and some starting points for your own experiments.'] "On September 16th 1999, the Open e-Book authoring Group published a document named 'Open e-Book Publication Structure 1.0'. This document can be downloaded at http://www.openebook.com. It is also available as an e-book. However, although the content specification is a standard, each reader only accepts its own file format -- an OEB (Open E-Book) package needs to be processed by a publishing tool in order to be consumed by a particular reader. Some readers, such as Microsoft's, run on multiple platforms, from desktops to palmtops. The Microsoft reader is freely available. Microsoft says they will be publishing the Microsoft Reader Content SDK. This is necessary to package e-books as 'lit' files, understood by Microsoft's reader. E-books can also be read on PalmOS computers like the Palm Pilot or Handspring Visor. Another free e-book reader is available from Mobipocket. You can also find an e-book publishing kit, which helps you create an OPF file, the e-book package file. It's the glue that ties all the elements in the book together. To my knowledge, Mobipocket is the only kit publicly available that can process an OEB 1.0 package document. Naturally, the OEB package document is XML. We'll examine its internal structure below. An OEB document should be an XML 1.0 document, conforming to the following requirements: (1) well-formed XML document, (2) conforms fully to the OEB document DTD, (3) conforms to XHTML 1.0 when that specification is issued, and, (4) viewable in version 4 HTML browsers. The EOB specification defines two XML DTDs: the package DTD and the basic OEB document DTD. Basic OEB documents are used to encode the book's contents. In the current 1.0 specification, although the OEB elements are not given a namespace, the dc: namespace prefix is required for all Dublin Core metadata. A minimal e-book involves at least two documents, a package document and a content document... Most of the useful features of HTML 4 can be used in e-book content: CSS stylesheets, <div>, etc. An e-book reader may even execute scripts. This implies that e-books can be interactive and offer a richer experience to the user. Most of the HTML 4 vocabulary is re-used in e-books but not all of it. It is better to check your document with a validating XML parser (simply include the DOCTYPE declaration and get the document validated against the DTD)."
[October 26, 2000] "E-Book Platforms: Battles on the Viewer Front. [E-books: Small Devices, Big Opportunities?]" By Mike Letts. In The Seybold Report on Internet Publishing Volume 5, Number 2 (October 2000), pages 16-19. Special Report: SSF 2000. ['Adobe and Microsoft have raised the stakes, but advancing viewers for PDAs shows that there's much more to come. With the leading suppliers of PC-based e-book viewers squaring off in public, the rest of the field scrambles for a piece of publishers' attention. Of particular note this fall are a host of new dedicated e-book readers and PDA viewers.'] "Though early e-book platforms tended to marry the viewer and copyright-protection technologies, a recent trend is to split the two. The current landscape includes several heavyweight viewer vendors (Adobe, Microsoft), around which are buzzing a horde of DRM players. Based on activity in September, things are heating up in the handheld arena. We'll report here on two new viewers for the Palm. Later this fall we expect to see other viewers as well, including dedicated readers, as well as software for wireless devices. (1) [Adobe] Glassbook unveiled beta versions of the 2.0 releases of its Reader, Reader Plus and Content Server applications on the show floor. It was also not lost on those in attendance that Adobe gave full demonstrations of the new Glassbook Reader in a remarkably similar fashion to Microsoft, which was demonstrating its own PC-based Reader application just down the aisle. The power struggle is certainly on. (2) Microsoft countered Adobe by announcing that Amazon's first foray into e-books will be done in tandem with Microsoft. Amazon, which only two months ago was saying the market wasn't ready for e-books, will launch its e-book area this fall, featuring Microsoft's .LIT as its preferred format. (3) Bellevue, WA-based Ansyr has been developing PDF viewers for Windows CE devices since its inception last fall. At this year's show, Ansyr, along with three other companies, showcased its Primer PDF Viewer for the Palm operating system. According to Jerry Metcalf, the senior vice president of engineering at Ansyr, an XML-viewable version of Primer is scheduled for release this month. RTF- and SVG-supportable versions were also mentioned. (4) Aportis Technologies, which also exhibited in the Adobe partner pavilion, released its PDF viewing application for Palm operating systems in San Francisco..."
[January 04, 2001] "E-books: Technology for Enterprise Content Applications?" By Bill Trippe and David Guenette. In The Gilbane Report on Open Information & Document Systems Volume 8, Number 9 (November 2000), pages 1-9. "Publishing technology has influenced computing in general, and information technology in particular, since the first word processor. While progress was excruciatingly slow for years, today's business applications owe a large debt to markup languages and formatting technology. Our expectations about what content we can view, how it is presented, and what we can do with it have been irrevocably changed by publishing technology. Business models associated with publishing, such as syndication, are also reshaping IT strategies. E-books have been getting a lot of attention from the publishing community lately. The number of e-book conferences in the past 2 months, the attention our friends at Seybold have devoted to e-books, and Microsoft's e-book activity, all suggest the technology and market interest are converging. Since we are always on the lookout for technology that can be applied to corporate content applications, we thought it was time to see whether e-book technology had something to offer corporate IT strategists. An important part of the answer depends on whether there is in fact a market for e-books at all, and if so, when the market will be large enough to support continued investment in development. This month Bill and David take a provocative look at these issues... when one gets clear of the current marketing hoopla for e-books, the applicability of e-book readers within the enterprise doesn't survive. Yes, everyone is interested in getting away from the problems of complex devices -- read, PCs -- for information access, but today's thinking about e-books is far too simple, stuck as it is on replicating print books. Given the inherent absurdity of using dynamic digital content to represent the static print form, we have to wonder whether the latest versions of e-books will even survive for long on Oprah's Favorite Things list. Today, about the best information management solution among the e-book readers is a form of online personal library, but in the barest sense of the thing, as a simple bookshelf designed to stack up e-book purchases tied to a restricted access reader. Microsoft Bookshelf, one of the first big titles among the much-maligned CD-ROM standard bearers, and first published in 1985 bringing ten desk references with hyperlinks (including Bartlett's Quotations, Roget's Thesaurus, and The American Heritage Dictionary) to the desktop, makes for a much better e-book than what's being shown these days. Some e-book people point to the Open E-Book (OEB) standard, which is an XML-based language for marking up books that can be used to publish e-books in the variety of formats. While XML is playing an increasingly dominant role in the Internet, and while client devices will need to accommodate a widening variety of XML, the current OEB specification is anemic and does little to strengthen the utility of e-books within the enterprise. Technology moves fast, and there's little doubt that there is a good market for less expensive portable content access devices, but it isn't going to be the single-function e-book readers we see today. Bill Gates went on to show COMDEX crowds the TabletPC just a week after Microsoft's e-book guy, Dick Brass, talked it up at e-Book World, and there's something that remains compelling about a multipurpose device that both handles and manages all kinds of content while remaining connected to the ever-growing information universe made up of the Web, enterprise portals, and published works. Something will have to be done about correcting the complexity of what is, essentially, a notebook computer even with its 'tablet' form factor, and something will have to be done about the price. But the TabletPC is a far smarter imagining of what e-book devices can be then the REB 1100 or 1200. The truth is that the focus on devices is almost always a misdirection. The work that enterprises face today isn't figuring out which or whether e-books are in their future. The work remains the difficult task of increasing the value and utility of the information to the enterprise, by applying intelligent tagging schemes to content and applying database processes and e-commerce technologies like personalization to the serving of content. The work remains providing the means for easily creating and maintaining a visual metaphor for organizing the participants' interests, to make it easy to subscribe and unsubscribe to resources, to 'store' frequently used resources, and to have ready access to valued resources. The work remains to increase the access to and managing of that information by the enterprise's own employees and partners, by getting content management to work with content distribution systems to deliver the right content in the right context."
[June 14, 2000] The Brown University Scholarly Technology Group has announced the development of a web-based environment to support the creation of OEB ebooks. This 'XHub' resource, which began in November of 1999, is now nearing completion. The Open eBook specification, based upon XML, "is intended to give content providers (e.g., publishers, and others who have content to be displayed) and tool providers minimal and common guidelines which ensure seamless fidelity, accuracy, accessibility, and presentation of electronic content over various electronic book platforms." XHub description: "At the heart of XHub is an online service that converts XML/SGML documents into OEB Publications. XHub simplifies the potentially complicated process of making an OEB ebook. Users are assisted in identifying the document set to be converted, verifying and rearranging the sequence of data files (possibly adding or subtracting files), developing OEB metadata, creating OEB 'fallback' information, making OEB stylesheet selections, and checking the output for conformance. While defaults keep simple conversions simple, XHub also supports complicated conversions and customization. Input formats for the first release are HTML and TEI; support for additional XML/SGML input formats will be added later. In addition to providing conversion services, XHub will also maintain repositories of resources related to OEB ebook production in general. For individual non-commercial users with simple ebook needs XHub will provide free access to OEB CSS stylesheets (for domain-specific 'extended' element sets), sample package files, documentation, worked problems, metadata examples, FAQs, discussion lists, and so on. For commercial users XHub will also be a source of encoding and data extraction tools, XSLT conversion templates for advanced technical element sets, parsers, viewers, validators, and other related software, all of which may be licensed for local use, adaptation, or resale. Non-commercial use of XHub services is free and commercial use, including software licensing, available on a cost recovery basis. We developed XHub as part of STG's R&D program in advanced electronic publishing because we believe that the OEB is the best practical strategy for achieving the combination of interoperability and performance necessary to make the ebook industry flourish, provide new technology of social and cultural value, and improve accessibility both to the disabled and across the digital divide. This is also why we chose the Text Encoding Initiative as one of the first input formats -- the TEI is not only increasingly used by academic publishers, but it is the preferred XML format for important cultural and educational content, but it is widely recognized as the best foundation we have for high performance document systems (providing a lingua franca for semantic interoperability) and is endorsed by the US Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Digital Library Federation as the foundation for the national digital library. Because XHub is part of STG's core research agenda -- exploring fundamental issues in advanced electronic publishing -- it benefits directly from extensive ongoing STG research into XML schemas, transcoding, and knowledge representation. STG will aggressively develop XHub, adding not only new conversion resources and software, but also additional categories of service, such as content location directories, data extraction tools, transcoding applications, metadata pooling, and annotation exchange. The Brown University Scholarly Technology Group is an applied research and development group focusing on advanced topics in XML-based electronic publishing, hypermedia, and digital libraries; In November 1999 STG co-developed the first publicly released OEB software application: an OEB document validator." For additional information, contact Allen Renear (Director, Scholarly Technology Group).
[October 06, 2000] University of Virginia Ships Over 600,000 XML EBooks. From a recent UVA announcement: "From the Bible and Shakespeare to Jane Austen and Jules Verne, the University of Virginia Library's Electronic Text Center (Etext Center) is making more than 1,200 of its 50,000 online texts available as free e-books that may be downloaded from the World Wide Web and read using free Microsoft Reader software. With over 600,000 downloads since the project was launched in August, the Etext Center is the largest and busiest public e-book library in the world, library officials said. The Microsoft Reader software may be installed on a desktop or laptop computer, or on a Pocket PC hand-held computer. The software displays the electronic text on a computer screen so that it resembles the pages of a electronic text on a computer screen so that it resembles the pages of a traditional book. 'The goal is to read pages on the computer screen for extended periods of time, rather than to print them out,' said David Seaman, director of the Etext Center at the University of Virginia Library. The e-books are available free of charge at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/ebooks/ and titles are added regularly. E-books currently available include the Bible, all of Shakespeare, and classics from Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Robert Frost, Arthur Conan Doyle, Shelley, Darwin, and Jane Austen. The collection also includes American fiction and history from Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Twain, Melville, Stowe, Hawthorne and Poe; early science fiction by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, and others; writings from Native American and African-American authors; and illustrated children's classics. Aesop's Fables alone has been downloaded more than 4,000 times, Seaman said. Readers from more than 100 countries have downloaded e-books from the Etext Center. 'The use of our e-books is truly global, with users coming not only from North America, but also from Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and even a good many from Asia, Africa, and the Russian Federation. The enormous popularity of our e-book holdings does much to validate the concept of the e-book software as a reading environment,' said Seaman. The audience is broad, including high school and college students, teachers, parents, and the general reading public... E-books also retain some of the best features of paper books. Users can write notes on a page and even 'dog-ear' pages." The University of Virginia has used SGML/XML encoding in its humanities computing projects for many years; the Electronic Text Center 'combines an on-line archive of tens of thousands of SGML and XML-encoded electronic texts and images with a library service that offers hardware and software suitable for the creation and analysis of text'. See further (1) "Open Ebook Initiative"; (2) "University of Virginia Electronic Text Center"; and (3) "IATH - Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia at Charlottesville." Note: Clarification on UVA's use of TEIXLITE.
[August 12, 2000] "XHub: An Online Service for Creating OEB eBooks from XML Documents." By Elli Mylonas (Brown University). Presentation at Extreme Markup 2000 (August 2000). "Brown University's Scholarly Technology Group has developed a web-based environment, based on an underlying XSLT conversion architecture, to support the creation of OEB (Open eBook Publication Structure) ebooks from XML inputs. This service allows users to perform intelligent conversions of documents in formats like XHTML, TEI, DocBook, and others, into XML eBook Publications. This presentation will describe the design of XHub, some of the interesting problems solved in the course of its development, and some broader issues related to managing real-world XML transformations. We will also describe plans to use XHub as a test bed for exploring topics such as annotation exchange." [GCA blurb]
Poster Session at Extreme Markup Conference (08/13-18). Using XML to describe Document Hierarchies: Storing Information about File Hierarchies and Links." By Carole Mah, STG, Brown University. "This poster discusses how best to represent information about a set of hierarchically-linked documents (such as web sites) in a way that allows easy manipulation and reconfiguration. [...] We need to represent information about a set of hierarchically linked documents in order to manipulate them as we perform a conversion from HTML-> XHTML-> OEB (XML). Specifically, we have developed a web-based system for grabbing web sites (or sub-trees) and converting them to OEB documents. This system must allow easy manipulation, reconfiguration of file set, file attributes, etc. Solution: Use XML file description to describe data and XSLT for management and transformations. [It proved to be] a strategy that turned out to efficiently and naturally support a wider range of uses than originally anticipated. Benefits: (1) Multi-purposing; document instance can be used for many purposes (2) Generalizable: DTD and associated approach and software tools can be easily generalized as Web mirroring tool or as a website analysis tool..." See also the full paper. [cache overview, cache paper]
[August 21, 2000] "Battle Lines Forming Over Next E-Publishing Platform." By Mark Walter. In The Seybold Report on Internet Publishing Volume 4, Number 12 (August 2000), pages 18, 24. [Commentary. 'Microsoft's ambitious foray into e-books will heighten the PDF-OEB distinctions, but look for other issues, especially DRM, to be the real points of contention.'] "Microsoft Reader recognizes books formatted in Open E-Book format, encrypted using Microsoft's specific digital rights management (DRM) technology, which at this time is incompatible with Adobe's own WebBuy DRM. Microsoft Reader 1.0 is a first-generation product, with plenty of limitations that leave it unsuitable for many types of documents that Acrobat can handle -- documents with unusual characters, non-Roman languages and high-resolution graphics, to name just a few. But Reader, like Web browsers (Open E-Book is based on XML and HTML), will point out the weakness of Acrobat for on-screen reading, and it will improve -- Microsoft has already said it intends to upgrade the product to make it suitable for nonfiction and textbooks. One thing is for sure: the rise of OEB readers represents a real opportunity for printers and other service firms to offer e-book conversion and manufacturing services. Yes, there will be tools available that publishers can buy, but as the Reader itself matures in capability, so will the complexity of the task of re-expressing books written and designed for print in another medium. . . publishers will not be choosing between PDF and OEB; they'll be making both. Acrobat, because it still has uses beyond on-screen reading (including delivery of final form documents) will not suffer Navigator's fate, at least not that quickly. The real battle then, will not be over the data format, but over DRM."
Electronic Book '99. Second Annual Workshop: 'The Next Chapter'. September 21 - 22, 1999. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD.
[September 21, 1999] "Open eBook Authoring Group Releases Final Version of New Electronic Book Specification. Availability of Single Specification Encourages Publishers to Provide More Electronic Titles." - "In a move expected to accelerate the availability of reading material for electronic books and help ensure that consumers will have access to reading materials from different publishers in a single, universal format, the Open eBook (OEB) Authoring Group today released the final version of the Open eBook Publication Structure 1.0. Open eBook Publication Structure 1.0 defines the format that content takes when it is converted from print to electronic form. The Open eBook specification is based on HTML and XML, the same core languages that define the World Wide Web, and is designed to allow publishers and authors to deliver their material in a single format. The specification is expected to accelerate the availability of electronic reading material, because the single universal format will work on all reading systems that are compliant with the specification. As a result, publishers will be able to reach a wide audience without separately reformatting their titles for each reading system. The specification is also designed to allow existing eBook devices to accommodate it quickly."
[October 07, 2000] "A Framework for the Epublishing Ecology." 'A systematic foundation for critical thinking, discussion, standards development and decision making in the world of electronic publishing.' Public Comment Draft Version 0.78. September 25, 2000. 25 pages. "In the spring of 2000, the OEBF formed a working group to begin developing a Digital Rights Management strategy for the OEBF and chartered that group to produce various deliverables (glossary, reference models, stakeholder profiles, etc.) This document embodies those deliverables. The Framework is currently under development by the OEBF's Digital Rights Management Strategy working group. A draft (version 0.78) is being made available simultaneously to the full membership of the Open eBook Forum and to other interested parties for a 30-day review and comment period beginning September 25th, 2000. [...] The Framework is a first step toward the creation of open standards for the epublishing market across all of the relevant stakeholders. We can use it to analyze the requirements of a specific stakeholder and determine how those requirements might be harmonized with those of other stakeholders. We can use it to exert a common vocabulary for epublishing to facilitate discussions among standards-making initiatives, some within the publishing industry (e.g., the DOI system, the ONIX metadata system, and the EBX proposal) and some without (e.g., MPEG21 and W3C). The Open eBook Forum (OEBF) is an international, non-profit trade organization whose mission is to promote the development of a thriving epublishing market. To do this, it creates, maintains and promotes adoption of epublishing standards and brings together stakeholders in the epublishing world by providing an inclusive forum for discussion of epublishing-related social, legal and technical issues." Also available as a Microsoft Word Document. [cache PDF, cache .DOC]
[August 04, 2000] "Microsoft Cranks Up Its Wide-Ranging E-Book Program. [Microsoft Discloses Ambitious E-Book Program.]" By Mike Letts and Mark Walter. In The Seybold Report on Internet Publishing Volume 4, Number 11 (July 2000), pages 5-11. ["There's been much speculation, and a few broad announcements, about Microsoft's e-book program, but details of the full scope of its efforts have been hard to obtain. However, last month, on the eve of Book Expo America in Chicago, the company hosted an all-day event to brief publishers on the e-book products that will be delivered in the coming months. At Microsoft's invitation, we attended the briefing to bring you this detailed report. The scope of the full effort is impressive, encompassing a PC-based Reader, several shrink-wrapped e-book server products and an end-to-end digital rights management solution. Perhaps most surprising was the showing of a prototype dedicated e-book reader based on a reference design Microsoft is showing to OEMs. Working with the same level of intensity that has come to define the company, Microsoft is charging hard into the e-book arena, raising the stakes and attempting to set the standards. In the process, we think it is also reshaping the electronic publishing landscape of the future.] ". . . The Digital Asset Server. The overall framework in which the DRM (digital rights management) system operates is Microsoft's upcoming Digital Asset Server platform. This server software is currently offered as a complete package that manages a store of books and processes and fulfills requests. It interfaces to the server containing the source content files, which need not reside at the distributor or bookseller's site; the Content Store Server houses the source files and may also store associated metadata, including the license information, in a SQL Server database. Microsoft has left open the option of interfacing its Content Store Server to other content repositories by relying on XML as the primary interface for exchanging metadata on the content. . . Microsoft is building a viewer specifically for extended reading, and isn't trying to bolt reading onto a Web browser. This approach is a distinct plus, as it gives the company the freedom to create a user interface optimized for the intended purpose, without the encumbrance of another application's baggage. The initial effort verifies its decision: the Windows MS Reader looks far better than most other PC-based e-book readers. The Reader also carries the advantage of using the XML-based Open E-Book format -- most notably rendering at the client, so that layout and composition can be optimized to the device, and even the window, on which the book is being read. . . Although Microsoft is utilizing ContentGuard's published XrML language to pass the license to its Reader, its .LIT binary data format is not open to the public, and the Reader itself is not open to third-party extensions."
[October 06, 2000] "Open eBook Publication Structure." From Brown University's STG. "STG played a leading role in the development of the Open eBook Publication Structure 1.0, an XML-based specification for hand-held electronic books. STG's specific objective in this project was to ensure that the OEB PS 1.0 standard was based on sound scientific and engineering research and reflected best practice in document architecture standards -- in order to create a high-performance interoperable data specification that would provide broad-based benefits to commerce and culture. We were particularly concerned to align OEB with current work in the W3C (particularly XML-related standards), promote the rigorous separation of structure and rendering semantics, and design mechanisms for disciplined extensions (to reconcile supporting innovation with maintaining interoperability). In addition we wanted to establish a foundation for supporting internationalization. Although in the end a few compromises had to be made in version 1.0 in order to accommodate the constraints of existing practices and market dynamics, our goals were largely achieved and OEB PS 1.0 is a powerful interoperable architecture that is fast becoming the common data format for electronic books. For its role in this project STG received a formal commendation from the US Department of Commerce, National Institute for Standards and Technology." See also the STG Open eBook Validator.
[April 17, 2000] "Opening an E-Book." By Dale Dougherty. In WebTechniques (April, 2000). "Most discussions about electronic books begin by describing how important it is to have reading matter available while on the toilet. This might just be a guy thing. And then there's the endless argument about whether a person wants to read online. The fact is I do, and you do, and we both do it a lot more today than we did a year ago. Which is to say that e-books will make more and more sense to us, despite a number of plausible objections. . . Candidates for electronic document formats hold positions at different ends of a graphics-text spectrum. At one end are PostScript and Portable Document Format (PDF), both of which describe a page as a set of graphic components. This format achieves a high level of fidelity between a printed page and its electronic equivalent. At the other end are structured markup, such as SGML and XML. This text-oriented format provides for a broad range of uses for an electronic document, such as indexing, but is not always an ideal solution for rendering pages. The battle between PDF and HTML has already been played out on the Web. HTML won, because it's simple and flexible. . . In an effort to come up with a standard, open format, the Open E-book Initiative was organized. In September 1999, the group published the Open E-Book 1.0 Publication Structure Specification, which is published at www.openebook.org. According to Brown University's Steven DeRose, a founder of DynaText/EBT, this group had been thinking it would define a minimum HTML subset but was persuaded to add XML support in a very interesting way. The Open E-book standard is essentially XHTML -- that is, a clean version of HTML 4.0 along with support for CSS. However, this group had the foresight to allow extensions of the tag set as long as there is a style defined for each element. That is, within an XHTML document, you can use specialized tags for application-specific semantics. This is a pragmatic and powerful compromise that strikes a balance between the limits of HTML and the extensibility of XML. Note that if you were defining a document format today, you'd be foolish not to build upon existing HTML semantics, which are well known by so many people. The spec also defines a packaging mechanism to bundle files. It is a manifest that lists the filenames of documents and images that make up an e-book. This is actually a very obvious capability that's been missing, but really helps to make HTML pages portable."
[March 06, 2000] "Æsop: A Browser for XML Documents and Open eBook Publications." XTech 2000 Presentation. San Jose, CA. By Christopher Maden, Solutions Architect and Deborah Hooker, Vice President of Engineering, Yomu. "Yomu is developing a general XML document browser that also handles Open eBook (OEB) publications conformant with the OEB profile of XML, CSS, and other specifications. The presenters will demonstrate the current state of development of the browser and explain our future direction during this session."
[March 31, 2000] "Publishing with XML and the Open eBook Specification." By David Goldstein, Chief Technical Officer, Versaware, Inc. PowerPoint slides. Presented at XTech 2000. "Sparked by the growth in WEB access and the availability of low cost, hand-held reading devices, the electronic publication industry is on the verge of redefining our relationship with the "printed" word. We are witnessing a revolution in the way we read, access, search and purchase "books". However, there are several obstacles to overcome. These include the plethora of word processing and publishing formats, the interoperability gap separating traditional and electronic publishing, the representation and encoding of a myriad of languages and alphabets, and the high cost of re-processing content for various target media. The Open eBook (OEB) Specification is part of an industry-sponsored initiative to resolve many of these issues. The specification seeks to have an immediate and direct impact on the creation, advancement, and growth of a flourishing eBook industry. Fully XML and Unicode compliant, this specification supports feature-rich and media-enhanced electronic publication. Content providers can now feel confident that their documents can be delivered on a wide range of reading devices without the need to reprocess. Any OEB-compliant reading system will display these publications in a manner that most faithfully represents the original content, even in consideration of limitations of a particular reading device. This presentation will introduce the goals and design principles of the Open eBook Specification and will detail its features, limitations and relationship to other industry standards. Current tools for producing and displaying OEB publications will be demonstrated and future directions of the OEB authoring committee's work will be described..."
[March 31, 2000] "Sparkling Display of E-books." By Mark Walter. In The Seybold Report on Internet Publishing Volume 4, Number 7 (March 2000), pages 4-13. ['One of the top attractions on the expo floor was the inaugural e-book showcase, which featured dedicated devices, PC-based readers and Web-based services. We review the rise of the Open E-Book (OEB) standard, the status of PDF and the issues still unresolved in the e-book space. Among the vendors, alliances and acquisitions affected Glassbook, netLibrary, NuvoMedia and Softbook. New entrants included Ansyr, ibooks.com, and ebrary.com. The showcase of vendors proved an opportune time to present our third overview of this rapidly evolving market. OEB is coming on strong, but PDF has been strengthened by recent alliances. We cover the debate and check out the latest hand-held and PC-based e-book viewers and sites.'] "Today, the e-book pioneers of 1999 are already working on their second- and third-generation products. Some firms have already been acquired by larger companies; the behemoth Microsoft has entered the game, joined by a flock of young start-ups; the leading booksellers have begun peddling e-books to the public; and the scramble to test these new media is in high gear. . . More changes are in store later this year, with Microsoft due to release its first-generation e-book reader, Adobe planning to counter ClearType with CoolType; and the OEB and EBX working groups striving to consolidate vendors' interests in standards for packaging e-books and managing rights and permissions online. The groundswell building behind the Open E-Book (OEB) format was very palpable at the Boston event, much more so than six months ago when the initial OEB specification was released. Already, virtually every vendor in the e-book space can, or will soon be able to, accept OEB files as inputs to their proprietary reader formats. . . Though the data formats of the books themselves are settling down, the packaging of the books remains. The Open E-Book group, now receiving assistance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is close to finalizing a proposed standard for packaging e-book files into a single container object as a secure MIME object. The fly in the ointment is Microsoft, which has gone ahead and developed its own container format, planning to use it in its forthcoming reader for Windows and CE."
[March 06, 2000] "Publishing with XML and the Open eBook Specification." XTech 2000 Presentation. By David Goldstein, Chief Technical Officer, Versaware, Inc. "This presentation will introduce the goals and design principles of the Open eBook Specification and will detail its features, limitations and relationship to other industry standards. Current tools for producing and displaying OEB publications will be demonstrated and future directions of the OEB authoring committee's work will be described."
[October 19, 1999] "E-Books: Microsoft/OEB vs Adobe/PDF? Rights Management and E-Books." By Victor Votsch. In Seybold Report on Internet Publishing Volume 4 Number 2 (October 1999), pages 5-8. "Microsoft's announcement of a book reader compatible with the new Open E-Book (OEB) format was countered by Adobe's introduction of the Web Buy plug-in for Acrobat. Both moves are forcing smaller players in the e-book and rights management market to adjust their positions. . . Now publishers interested in testing the e-book waters can use PDF or OEB, Acrobat or MS Reader. We've been here before in this industry, and this round is likely to be much like the last. Dueling standards will create confusion for a few years until all the parties can agree on how to proceed. There will be hard-core adherents on both sides and a market in the middle that doesn't much care, as long as the results look OK to the customers. The OEB partisans tend to come from the SGML/XML camp with dreams of structured repositories and an animus toward PDF with its intermingling of presentation and content. Folks in the PDF camp tend to have a publishing background and an understanding of the nitty-gritty workflow issues involved in actually getting work out the door."
[October 28, 1999] "eBook Industry Takes Giant Step Forward." By John Makulowich. In Washington Technology (October 1999), pages 1, 18, 46. See: "Open Ebook Initiative."
[May 26, 1999] "Open eBook Authoring Group Completes Draft Recommendation for New Electronic Book Publication Standard. Publishers, Software Manufacturers and eBook Pioneers Pave Way for More Electronic Titles With Draft Recommendation for New International Standard." - "In a step that will accelerate availability of electronic book content, the Open eBook Authoring Group yesterday announced the completion of a draft recommendation of the Open eBook 1.0 Specification, which defines the format that content takes when it is converted from print to electronic form. After seven months of work, the Open eBook Authoring Group, which consists of publishers, eBook pioneers and other software and hardware firms, completed work on the standard, basing it on the same HTML and XML specifications that define the World Wide Web. 'Common standards are essential to support this emerging industry, and the XML approach is key, aligning Open eBook with other emerging standards and positioning it to support increasing functionality, interoperability and extensibility,' said Allen Renear, director of the Brown University-affiliated Scholarly Technology Group and a key contributor to the draft specification. 'And I am pleased that Open eBook has made a solid commitment to supporting internationalization and accessibility'."
[July 16, 1999] "Open eBook Initiative: A Common Denominator For Electronic Publishers." By Steve Potash [Overdrive Systems, Inc.] In Future of Print Media (Spring 1999). "The anticipated release and success of this eBook document may be the single most important milestone in the evolution of the eBook market. Entitled 'Open eBook Structure Specification 1.0' (OEB 1.0), the document is designed to provide guidance and specifications for publishers, authors and others seeking to distribute content into emerging eBook channels. One element of the Open eBook initiative is a specification for eBook file and format structure based on subsets of HTML and XML. The significance of this is that publishers can now use their existing software tools designed for Web page authoring, and in many cases, the same desktop publishing or word processing software used to complete the print version of the title, for conversion into eBook formats. This ability to use popular and well-known desktop publishing and web publishing tools to build eBooks will bring the cost of eBook development down to within reach of any author, publisher or editor. This open format reliance has already helped to promote a ready network of eBook vendors, Internet based-resellers and others preparing to work with eBook products in OEB format."
[June 18, 1999] "E-Book Standards Edge Forward." By Victor Votsch. From XML.com (June 17, 1999). "Two vendor-neutral standards are under development for e-books. The first, Open E-Book (OEB), is a file format for the books, independent of any specific reading device. The initial draft is expected later this month. The second, Electronic Book Exchange (EBX), is a specification covering e-book distribution and copyright protection. Its first draft is expected later this year. The OEB 1.0 spec attempts to create a set of markup tools that could be applied universally to a wide range of books. The markup for the book itself consists of HTML 3.2 tags (with the addition of the 'span' tag), with CSS 1.0 style sheets, all specified in an XML document type definition. Associated with the book are XML-encoded metadata that make use of the Dublin Core taxonomy. . . In parallel with OEB, a second group of about 40 companies Electronic Book Exchange - EBX] is developing a standard method of copyrighting digital books that are distributed over the Internet. The intent is for EBX to support both PDF and Open E-Book formats." [Reprinted from The Seybold Report on Internet Publishing Volume 3, No. 10.]
[September 01, 1999] "Reciprocal Publishing Supports Open eBook Initiative. Digital Rights Management Service Provider Joins Publishers, eBook Pioneers, Online Book Sellers, and Technology Manufacturers in Promoting a Common Standard for Electronic Publishing." - "Reciprocal Publishing announced today that it has joined the Open eBook Initiative whose goal is to create a standard specification for eBook file and format structure based on HTML and XML, the languages used to format information for web sites. The specification is to be announced this fall. 'The Open eBook Initiative welcomes the membership of Reciprocal Publishing to our group. Working together, we can promote a common electronic format to insure interoperability for electronic book reading systems,' said Dr. Victor McCrary of the National Institute of Technology and Standards (NIST). McCrary chairs the group responsible for authoring the Open eBook specification and the NIST is the U.S. government organization affiliated with the Open eBook Initiative."
[June 21, 1999] "E-Book Mania: PC-Based Products Jostle the Bandwagon. [PC-Based E-Books: A Market Overview.]" By Steve Edwards, Victor Votsch, and Mark Walter. In Seybold Report on Internet Publishing Volume 3, Number 10 (June, 1999), pages 1, 9-19. "The rise of hand-held e-books has sparked a resurgence in PC-based electronic books, and a wave of vendors looking to sell e-books over the Web. We profile the offerings of six new vendors and update readers on three related developments: the Clio/Tripad notebooks, emerging e-book standards, and the latest deals by hand-held e-book vendors. . . Two vendor-neutral standards are under development for e-books. The first, Open E-Book (OEB), is a file format for the books, independent of any specific reading device. The initial draft is expected later this month. The second, Electronic Book Exchange (EBX), is a specification covering e-book distribution and copyright protection. Its first draft is expected later this year. . ."
[May 26, 1999] "Microsoft's Call for an Open eBook Standard Sees Major Milestone As Draft Specification Is Submitted for Final Approval. Microsoft Rallies Wide Range of Industries to Develop Standard That Will Help Launch the eBook Industry." - "The Open eBook initiative was proposed in October 1998 by Microsoft Vice President for Emerging Technology Dick Brass in his keynote speech at the world's first eBook conference in Gaithersburg, Md. At the conference, sponsored by the National Institutes of Standards and Technologies (NIST), Brass argued for an open, nonproprietary standard for eBooks. The standard, based on the HTML and Extensible Markup Language (XML) specifications that define the World Wide Web, outlines the format for books and other traditionally printed material so that they can be converted from print to digital form. The Open eBook standard version 1.0 was presented Monday by its authors to more than 50 representatives of the broader Open eBook organization. The organization includes major publishers, eBook pioneers, and software and hardware manufacturers, as well as book distributors and retailers."
[February 18, 1999] "Book Publishers Mull XML." By Mo Krochmal. In TechWeb News (February 17, 1999). "The book publishing industry is slowly adopting XML, said executives from vendors serving the industry. It's a movement, not an avalanche . . ." [See for example the Open eBook Initiative: 'One element of the Open eBook initiative is a specification for eBook file and format structure based on HTML and XML . . ."]
[January 26, 1999] "E-Book Standards Process Faces Rough Road." By Margaret Quan. In EE Times (January 25, 1999). "In back-to-back meetings, two groups of electronic-book manufacturers, publishers, software companies, and electronics companies will meet this week here to push forward standards for e-books, their content format, distribution, and copyright protection. The Open eBook Standards Committee will present a draft of its Publication Structure Specification, a content format for e-books drawn up by Microsoft, NuvoMedia, and Softbook Press. The Open eBook group is expected to detail a spec that uses HTML and XML as the basis for a content format. It is also expected to leverage the ClearType font technology Microsoft announced at Comdex last year."
[January 25, 1999] "Debates over format, distribution and the process itself leave accord in doubt -- E-book groups seek to pen industry standards." By Margaret Quan. In Electronic Engineering Times [Online] Issue 1045 (January 25, 1999). "Two groups of electronic-book manufacturers, publishers, software vendors and electronics companies will push this week for standards to govern the e-books, their content format, distribution and copyright protection. The back-to-back meetings could take the fledgling industry closer to creating open, interoperable standards. But debates over what content format books should use, whether an open-distribution standard is needed and whether the ad-hoc standard process itself is an open one, threaten any agreement. The Open eBook group (www.openebook.org) is expected to detail a spec that uses HTML and XML as the basis for a content format. It is also expected to leverage the ClearType font technology Microsoft announced at Comdex last year. . . some of the eBook vendors and publishers may change their minds about using HTML and XML once they see a technology Adobe plans to present that expands PDF and breaks down the barrier between PDF, HTML and XML. Everybook has been a beta site for the Adobe technology."