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XML promises to boost eBooks

The Open eBook Forum (http://www.openebook.org) has unveiled a new version of its XML-based Open eBook Publication Structure (OeBPS) that booksellers hope can boost acceptance of the eBook concept.

The New York-based forum includes book publishers, representatives of libraries, and major vendors of eBook-reading hardware and software, including Microsoft, Adobe Systems Inc. and Palm Digital Media, which are all looking to end the Tower of Babel-effect that has plagued eBook adoption.

Would-be buyers of eBooks on Amazon are today presented with the option of downloading the Microsoft or Adobe reader software. But what if the reader wants to buy an eBook that can be perused with any software on any device from a desktop PC to a handheld reader?

That is the goal of OeBPS, which, according to the eBook Forum, ''enables publishers to create a single electronic representation of a publication that can be easily transformed into other formats and presented on many devices.''

The new standard provides XML-based format for the content, structure and presentation of electronic books, and makes it easier for readers and publishers to use, according to Allen Renear, chair of the OeBF Publication Structure Working Group. Publishers employing the standard can produce the text of an electronic book once and then take advantage of the XML capability to separate content from presentation so it can work with a variety of devices.

''OeBPS is a coordinated set of standards that allows publishers to easily present their content on almost any eBook device. Most importantly, because OeBPS can directly accommodate in-house XML vocabularies with little or no modification, it can often be a very simple matter for a publisher to produce OeBPS. The new version provides a vastly improved ability to specify formatting and achieve high-quality presentation,'' explained Renear, who represents the graduate school of library at the University of Illinois.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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