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.
Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.