Posted on 2013-Jan-22
It is hard not to believe that the latest technological advances behind eBooks have promised so many features that will make a book so professionally designed these days. The long list of enhanced layout on KF8 on Amazon Kindle Fire talks about a lot of tech jargon (HTML5, CSS3). According to Digital Book World, EPUB3 will be added to the support list. While iBookstore keeps their spec sheet as simple and comprehensible for general reader, they differentiate themselves from other vendors by mentioning their home-brewed ecosystem (iCloud, iOS). However, with the increasing features being implemented and added to the list, new terminology starts to cram up our learning curve and seems to prevent the publishing industry from universalizing eBook format simplicity for all readers and authors.
EPUB3 and HTML5
Last week, Digital Book World Conference 2013 brought some interesting discussion about publishing industry in general. Many people are excited about the coming of EPUB3 and HTML5. There is nothing new about the two formats gracing the front pages of eBook updated news. According to Good E Reader, Kobo and Barnes & Noble are planning to fully support the latest EPUB standard very soon this year. Why do these two technologies matter in the first place? In order to produce a sophisticated presentation eBook, both are capable of handling complex layouts, multimedia, and interactive content. Regardless of the promising features listed in IDPF website, the adoption of EPUB remains debatable due to the fact that almost no eReading apps and eBooks have fully utilized the latest EPUB format. Good E Reader wrote that 95% of Amazon and Kobo cannot display EPUB3 content. Consequently, publishers are looking for alternative solutions, and they will continue to develop expensive reading apps to showcase their intricate design until the full EPUB3 spec is supported. These reading apps thus raise eyebrows among readers and authors who are surrounded by the multitudes of mobile reading solution.
Perhaps, the utopian state of publishing industry as a whole will rely less on the variety of apps. The universal development of HTML5 seems like a lucrative investment for all parties involved to reduce the mental stress caused by labor-intensive production of a dedicated reading application.
Thoughts on Digital Book World 2013
Enough with the tech talk for a minute, have a quick walkthrough to observe the discussion at the conference itself. From the perspective of an early eBook adopter, Paul Biba reflects how the increase of data, surveys, studies, and presentation tends to lose its mathematical significance when those numbers and statistics were just announced without given proper explanation. There are some positive signs for self-publishers and the change in publisher’s attitude toward eBooks. Unlike the remote past of yesteryears, publishers have no reason to reject the eBook standard as they make their way to attract their reader’s attention.
According to Michael Tamblyn, Chief Content Officer of Kobo, their sales and devices were reported to have increased up to mind-blowing 150%. They make sure their devices are distributed to their store and learn many things from indie eBook readers’ behavior. Although they buy less backlist titles, they are willing to pay for the price tag. 57% of readers pay for their eBooks at $9 and up. Surprisingly, they prefer non-fiction to fiction and literary fiction to genre fiction and romance and erotica are not of their prime interest.
Publishers’ Dominance without Indie Author’s Participation
Perhaps, it is unforeseeable in the next 3 months to predict what eBook standard platforms will utilize. The flexibility of EPUB3 and HTML5 promise good things for the entire eBook audience: publishers and designers will have one universal standard to invest on their development; author and designer collaborating on creating an eBook that is rich in multimedia content and professional look; readers can trust one ecosystem that takes them to the countless catalogues without looking up different manuals. In reality, people choose to work on what they think is best for their investment. The conference makes it easier for everybody to present arguments and propose solutions. Nevertheless, with the lack of participation of independent authors and readers, the analytical statistics lose its depth and relevance. Attendees only hear what the publishers need to say about their future expansion plan. Prior to the technical talks, authors should be able to voice their concerns and obstacles while readers can give a summary of what their expectations are. Referring to Paul Biba’s opinion earlier, what if they could listen more to what the self-publishers are saying? The name of prominent independent evangelists is spelled out in our website from time to time to make sure that self-published authors work continually to bring the best reading experience to their reader no matter how the industry will evolve.
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