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Publishers Campaign For Universal E-Book Format 348

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-also-want-a-pony dept.
As the battle rages for control of the e-book market, publishers are starting to unite behind a common desire: a universal e-book format. David Shanks, chief executive at Penguin Group USA, said, "Our fondest wish is that all the devices become agnostic so that there isn’t proprietary formats and you can read wherever you want to read. First we have to get a standard that everybody embraces." The company's president, Susan Petersen Kennedy, explained that book publishers did not want to "make the same mistakes as the music industry, which had an epic struggle over electronic distribution and piracy and lost huge market share."
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Publishers Campaign For Universal E-Book Format

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  • ePub (Score:5, Insightful)

    by masmullin (1479239) <masmullin@gmail.com> on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:00PM (#32410738)

    Issue solved. Everyone should just listen to me.

    • Re:ePub (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:11PM (#32410874)
      If I recall (it's been awhile since I've taken an engineering course) the first rule of engineering is if it isn't broken, don't fix it. Why reinvent the wheel when ePub is a perfectly good standard that is already darn near universal.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jd (1658)

        In that case, use DVI for binaries and LaTeX2e for raw ASCII.

      • Re:ePub (Score:5, Informative)

        by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:32PM (#32411170)

        One of the problems with epub format is there is no standard drm layer - in a sense thats one of the problems with PDF. PDF is an iso standard, perfectly fine for publication, but allows 3rd party security handlers - you can use Adobe's, or you can use one of a dozen other ones - and that in itself is the big problem with ebooks today.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mike260 (224212)

          Plus PDF is only really for fixed layouts, so it's not much use if you want the same file to target both a phone and a tablet.

          • Re:ePub (Score:5, Interesting)

            by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday May 31, 2010 @06:06PM (#32411566) Journal
            Unfortunately, the advantages of ePub are the disadvantages of PDF, and vice versa. ePub is terrible for technical content or for anything which is more complex than plain text with a tiny bit of markup. PDF is great for complex books, but for text it's a hugely bloated format. There is not yet a good general solution. For my latest book, I am using a subset of LaTeX markup and have added support in the EtoileText framework for parsing it and emitting XHTML, which works quite nicely for creating the ePub, but this one has much less complex structure than my last one.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Maybe we should go a little further back and use the wheel that we all know and love. TXT. Or hell, HTML is a perfectly viable format for this sort of thing, with the bonus that interlinked concepts can actually be interlinked inside the document.

        I'm really not sure why or what value the consumer sees from the use of proprietary formats. Simple is good, universal is good. DRM, proprietary formats and format wars are all bad.

        Every Ebook I have is either in RTF, TXT, or HTML format. I have yet to f
    • Re:ePub (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nakor BlueRider (1504491) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:15PM (#32410948)

      ePub is a really good choice. Aside from the fact that it's an open standard, it has the option to plug in any DRM the publisher wants to use/write for it. Hopefully they eventually learn better, but since for now they won't settle for anything that doesn't include a DRM option, that's an advantage for it. It's specifically designed for reading books on an eBook reader, including keeping track of where the pages actually change (when reading at different zoom levels). I'm honestly a bit surprised the industry isn't already switching to it.

      That said, I'm not fond of the Adobe Digital Editions DRM that it tends to come packed with at the moment on DRM'd books. The required software is not very good quality. The eReader style DRM is at least a lot easier to work with. (Of course, DRM-free remains the ultimate goal; at this point I pretty much only buy DRM-free eBooks anyway.)

    • Re:ePub (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rary (566291) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:19PM (#32410994)

      Issue solved. Everyone should just listen to me.

      Issue not solved.

      It seems to me that the main complaint about ePub is that it is text-centric, and doesn't do well with any book that requires a particular formatting, or includes anything other than text. That means no comic books, obviously, but it also eliminates many Kurt Vonnegut novels, among others.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Abcd1234 (188840)

        It seems to me that the main complaint about ePub is that it is text-centric, and doesn't do well with any book that requires a particular formatting

        That's what PDF is for. An ebook format should explicitly *not* allow for fixed layouts, as it interferes with reflow on mixed display sizes.

        That means no comic books, obviously

        Comics belong in a completely different format. They should be stored as pages of panels plus page-level layout with graphics, with the user having the option to view the original, ful

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rary (566291)

          But wouldn't it make sense to have one format that has the flexibility to handle different types of books? From a publisher's perspective, why would they want a different file format for their graphic novels than their text-only books? Why would they want to sell certain authors who happen to enjoy playing around with the layout of their pages separately from all the rest?

          I'm not saying ePub isn't a good starting point, but to have the "issue solved", as the original poster stated, it needs a bit more flexi

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Abcd1234 (188840)

            From a publisher's perspective, why would they want a different file format for their graphic novels than their text-only books?

            "But why invent HTML when I could just use PDF for everything?"

            Creating a singular format that tries to encompass every kind of media is a perfect route to format hell. The needs of traditional, reflowing text files are *far* different from that of fixed layout, image-based media. Hell, you probably wouldn't even use the same reader software for the two, as the experiences would

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Gulthek (12570)

        ePub can handle just about any formatting: it's HTML and CSS. Both Sitepoint and Pragmatic Programmers put out excellent epub technical books with many non-standard bits like code blocks and inline images: no formatting issues.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by steveha (103154)

      A link would be good. Here's one for starters:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPUB [wikipedia.org]

      Tim O'Reilly agrees with you [forbes.com].

      steveha

    • Re:ePub (Score:5, Interesting)

      by elh_inny (557966) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:28PM (#32411118) Homepage Journal

      I actually consult for Penguin (but also other publishers so hopefully I am not as biased), I am also on the ePub committee and I must tell that at least in it's current form epub is not the solution to all forms of content.
      Also Apple tends to do unspecified things to epub deliveries and standard compliant epubs fail Apple check, but it's hard to blame them yet, they're just trying
      Moreover it is the publisher who chooses to wrap their epubs in DRM or not so Penguin, not Apple is causing the incompatibilities to some extent.
      Amazon is obviously the biggest offender with their proprietary outdated format which is almost the same but not quite an epub.

      I also agree that epub is the most sensible solution right now, but like I said it's not there yet and simply doesn't work for non-reflowable content (think anything rich media, graphic or design heavy) which is a lot of content...

    • Re:ePub (Score:4, Informative)

      by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday May 31, 2010 @06:27PM (#32411782) Journal

      Not only that, but it's already a de facto standard. All more or less popular readers can read ePub books, either out of the box (e.g. Nook, new PRS), or with a firmware update (old PRS) - with the notable exception of Kindle, because Amazon wants to lock you into their own book store. Practically all reader apps for mobile devices (iPhone, Android) support ePub. iPad supports ePub (only?), which might well be the final nail into that coffin. The upcoming Google book store will use ePub.

      The DRM aspect is more interesting. While the format itself defines some generic metadata for DRM and such, it doesn't standardize any particular DRM scheme. In practice, though, it seems that everyone who needs it is converging on Adobe's ePub DRM as the de facto standard.

      So, the industry has already standardized. Amazon is the only remaining player that actively resists this, but between Apple, Google, and various smaller fish, I don't see how this is going to last for much longer.

  • HTML

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by vlm (69642)

      HTML

      Which of the eighty nine thousand variations?

      • by doconnor (134648)

        Any of the eighty eight thousand variations that modern web browsers and handle.

        • by vlm (69642)

          Any of the eighty eight thousand variations that modern web browsers and handle.

          I wonder how the typographical types like Knuth and the graphics arts types like Tufte would react to the idea of not knowing how their pages will render.

          Yeah for pot boiler romances no problemo, but some folks will have a cow at the idea that their page might be formatted into something they literally can't imagine by a device they know nothing about.

          • by jd (1658)

            For Boones and Mill-type books, it not only doesn't matter what it renders like, it doesn't matter if the pages are in order either. Nobody reads them for the plot. I'd argue LaTeX/DVI or Postscript, as then all devices (from speech synthesizers to graphical displays) will work.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jc42 (318812)

            I wonder how the typographical types like Knuth and the graphics arts types like Tufte would react to the idea of not knowing how their pages will render.

            They generally haven't tackled the problem that HTML was designed for: displaying in a usable form in windows on displays of different sizes, shapes, resolutions, and color capabilities. Most "typographical" standards start with the assumption of a print medium, with known pages sizes and the ability to use any kind of ink. This is fine if the goal is a

      • by VGR (467274)
        This one. [w3.org]
      • http://www.org/ [www.org]

        H.T.H.

        Course it should probably be zipped as well.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Osty (16825)

          Congratulations. You just created ePub [wikipedia.org], the existing open ebook standard consisting of XHTML+CSS in a zip container. Welcome to 2007.

    • Meh. For ebooks, I'd say modern HTML is overly-complicated. If you were going to use HTML, you'd want a customized version that took away anything not relevant to ebooks (e.g. forms) and then add back in special ebook features (e.g. better pagination support). So really what you'd be talking about is some kind of XML that has been optimized for ebooks and, for familiarity's sake, resembles HTML. AFAIK that's kind of pretty much what EPUB is. May as well use that? Some people are already using it, whic

    • I see your HTML and raise you an X.

  • It already exists. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:01PM (#32410752)

    *.txt

    (or *.pdf, if you're a stickler for pretty graphics).

    Coming up with a "new standard" at this point is just wasted effort.

    • No kidding. ASCII is the universal format type, and unicode ain't far behind these days. If you want renderings, fonts and so forth preserved, then there's PDF. Why would you want to build some other format when just about every computer released in the last 10 to 15 years can read these formats?

      • .txt is not supported by the Nook.

          http://www.barnesandnoble.com/nook/features/techspecs/index.asp [barnesandnoble.com]

        Dumb I know...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by schmidt349 (690948)

        You're kidding, right? PDF is a document format designed to preserve the layout of a paper book. It doesn't reflow for different screen sizes. At all. This makes it less than useless for the current eBook market, where you have a hojillion different devices, each with its own display resolution, dimensions, and layout format.

        And encoding text characters (the job of ASCII and Unicode) is just one of a million different things that need to happen to communicate information through text. If we'd listened to yo

      • by krischik (781389) <<krischik> <at> <users.sourceforge.net>> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @05:22AM (#32416072) Homepage Journal

        In my home country we don't use ASCII any more. We just like our äöü and you need at least ISO_8859-1 for that. And wife would need ISO_8859-5 for her eBooks. You guys from the US are so inconsiderate.

        And as for PDF: PDF preserves to much and is therefore unusable for different screen sizes.

    • by vlm (69642) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:09PM (#32410854)

      (or *.pdf, if you're a stickler for pretty graphics).

      PDF is an epic fail if you're rescaling to a new "paper" size. And each reader is, of course, a different size.

      Personally I'd buy an ebook reader if it was 8.5x11 inches at readable DPI and did PDFs, because that seems a nearly world standard electronic data sheet format.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Homburg (213427)

      Ebooks in plain text are a bit of a pain in the ass - how do you break up paragraphs (one paragraph per line? Separated by a blank line? First line indented? Tab or space indent?)? How about chapters, and larger divisions (parts, books)? How does your plain text ebook include the author and title of the book in a way your ebook reader can extract? A format with a little bit of structure and metadata is a real improvement over plain text.

    • by tomhudson (43916)

      It's called ASCII. And it's great!

      Combine it with an expanded ansi screen driver (more color range) for nice color "text graphics", and the ability to switch the color palette to something that gets rid of that ugly cyan and magenta, and you're good to go.

      But of course once you do that, it's "too" universal - there's no reason that people would prefer your version over anyone else's.

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        It's called ASCII. And it's great!

        What about the majority of the world's population, who use writing systems that don't reduce to ASCII (or even Latin-1)? Even English speakers might want quotations of foreign words in their texts to appear as they ought to instead of gibberish.

        • by vlm (69642)

          UTF-8 unicode. ASCII compatible, more or less, with the full unicode set when necessary.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dgatwood (11270)

        Speaking as someone who implemented the text file handling part of an ebook reader that never shipped, I can tell you that "simple" ASCII is anything but. First, you have to guess the encoding. Good luck with that. Then, you get to guess whether a newline is a paragraph break or a line break. If you decide it's a line break, then you get to decide if a paragraph is indicated by a blank line or a leading tab or spaces. Then, you get to decide whether multiple indented lines in a row are paragraphs or a

    • TXT is fine if that's what you're after. Many customers want a bit more and I can't blame them.

      PDF is not even close to being a usable generic ebook format: Try reflowing a PDF based on your screen width.

      Still, you are right that there's no need for a new format -- or at least Mr Shanks should explain what he needs that's not available in ePub.

    • More like .docx

      I'm kidding, calm down.

    • RTF is a better choice than either, if you really want to keep things simple. But neither really adds up to ePub at this time for anything that includes images at all. Then there's metadata, text reflowing/resizing and so forth.
  • by Dragoniz3r (992309) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:03PM (#32410778)

    Susan Petersen Kennedy, explained that book publishers did not want to "make the same mistakes as the music industry, which had an epic struggle over electronic distribution and piracy and lost huge market share."

    Well shit, even the book industry is laughing at the music industry now.

    • by jd (1658)

      After the fashion industry laughed at the music industry, it seemed impossible the music industry could fall any lower in the eyes of the world.

  • by Alaren (682568) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:03PM (#32410784)

    There are plenty (as the comments already reflect) of obvious format choices.

    They mean Digital Restrictions Management. It is a mistake to let them say what they want is a universal format. What they want is some form of control that isn't vendor-locked to a distributor who isn't them. And it ain't gonna happen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yvan256 (722131)

      If they mean DRM, then they should take a second look at the music industry, which dropped DRM more than a year ago.

    • Exactly. The publishers want to take control away from the retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., and it's just not going to happen.

      I mean, what exactly would be the retailer's motivation? There is none. If anything they would readily acknowledge it would hurt them. So why would they go for this?
    • Right. The fact is, you can make a reader that reads multiple formats, so that's not *really* the problem. I mean, creating hardware or software to read the books is a hell of a lot more convenient when you've standardized things, but the real problem that makes vendor lock-in an issue is DRM.

      If they really wanted to avoid the mistakes of the music industry, they would drop DRM immediately and move towards making extremely convenient distribution, storage, and backup. That's how you maintain some measur

    • by jd (1658)

      Why would they mean DRM when the fashion industry has only just ridiculed the notion as protecting anything? The timing suggests they're trying to leverage the fashion world's very public statement, which can only mean that they're wanting to look at solving the problem some other way. Not necessarily a better way or a workable way, but different.

      • Not necessarily a better way or a workable way, but different.

        Watermark all the images in the books and kick back and have a brew.

        The only downside is the server-side processing requirements are greater, and there'd be a way to know who owned a used book originally.

        I can live with that. Traditional DRM, not so much.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          This really is the right way to combat the massive piracy while not harassing people who want to backup their media, put it on more than one device, or possibly lend/give it to a friend or two. The fear of massive distribution would scare people off putting it online. Of course you want to make it known to the buyer that it contains watermarks, but not what kind.

          Sure people /could/ remove them if they learned how, but they will be too lazy. Everybody wins.

    • They mean Digital Restrictions Management. It is a mistake to let them say what they want is a universal format. What they want is some form of control that isn't vendor-locked to a distributor who isn't them. And it ain't gonna happen.

      Precisely. It's all about the DRM. If we are lucky this will play out exactly like it did for the music industry. Those fatcats didn't voluntarily stop using DRM - they just got so sick of Steve Jobs and his monopoly control of itunes that they figured dropping DRM was the lesser of two evils. It was either keep DRM and lose pricing control to Jobs or drop DRM and regain pricing control via multiple reseller like Walmart, Amazon. The tv & movie guys have avoided dropping DRM because Apple does not

  • Problem solved.
    • Nope. It doesn't account for differently-sized screens with different aspect ratios, nor the desire for differently-sized text. PDF is really designed for a set display size.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:04PM (#32410796)

    "Our fondest wish is that all the devices become agnostic so that there isn't proprietary formats and you can read wherever you want to read. First we have to get a standard that everybody embraces."

    "Oh, and don't get me wrong, we already have good standards, but they don't suck enough. By that I mean they don't arbitrarily restrict our readers in stupid ways. I long for the day we have a universal sucky e-book format."

    • by vlm (69642)

      "Oh, and don't get me wrong, we already have good standards, but they don't suck enough. By that I mean they don't arbitrarily restrict our readers in stupid ways. I long for the day we have a universal sucky e-book format."

      How about ".docx"? That would be freaking lovely. Seriously. I'm surprised he didn't suggest it.

      Either that or F all those unicode guys and their multicultural junk, I'm using EBCDIC. And when it doesn't sell, it'll be proof "no one wants ebooks" so we'll just can that market.

  • by mozumder (178398)

    Duh?

    • by Imagix (695350)
      Ick. PDF doesn't reflow well. My ebook reader isn't exactly the screen dimensions as what the PDF was rendered in. PDF is good for rendering a _specific_ page. ePub, mobi, azw (and a bunch of others) are all ebook formats which deal well (or at least better) with different "page" sizes. They will reflow the text when I go from a Kindle 2 to a Kindle DX, to an iPad, to a desktop computer. PDF will probably look good on the desktop, probably reasonable on the iPad and Kindle DX, and lousy (more accurate
    • PDFs are great on computers and some devices, but don't always work as well on eBook readers. Other formats such as ePub have better capacity to reflow and resize text while keeping images at a single size; reflowing text on an eBook reader often causes errors in PDF files. It depends on the reader in question of course, but if we're looking for an industry standard, it should be as widely compatible as possible, and ePub would fit the bill better than PDF for that.
    • by Abcd1234 (188840)

      Wow, way to completely miss why ebook formats exist in the first place.

      Let me guess... you don't actually read ebooks, do you?

  • Dream on... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:06PM (#32410836)

    "...First we have to get a standard that everybody embraces..."

    Good luck with that...if the battle with HTML 5 is any indication. Heck, what about document formats? Good luck with that too!

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:07PM (#32410840)

    ..ink on paper. Advantages as follows:

    1. Someone will steal an iPad or eBook reader from your bag at the airport, not a dog-eared paperback.

    2. For all the tree-huggers out there, you can only use paper from sustainable sources.

    3. If it takes you 12 hours to read a book from start to finish, it will take you the same time to read the eBook. On most devices that means carrying around a spare set of batteries or finding somewhere to recharge.

    4. Electronic media is all about "me me me" whereas physical media can be loaned to family and friends, thus encouraging more social interaction.

    5. A used book can be given away to a charity or be sold to go towards the price of the next book.

    • by Zironic (1112127)

      3. If it takes you 12 hours to read a book from start to finish, it will take you the same time to read the eBook. On most devices that means carrying around a spare set of batteries or finding somewhere to recharge.

      Doesn't E-Ink displays only require power when you change the picture, aka turn the page?

      • by Imagix (695350)
        Yep. My Kindle typically lasts about two weeks between charging. (Less if I leave the GSM radio running)
    • by couchslug (175151)

      6. Printing books has a long pollution consequence chain, from the paper mill onward.

      7. Electronic media are great for giving to friends. I email .pdf manuals quite often. Did I mention "no packing or postage"?

      8. I can carry many electronic pubs on my USB key. No one steals my electronics at airports because I hand-carry them too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pandrijeczko (588093)

        Printing books has a long pollution consequence chain, from the paper mill onward.

        What about the pollution from the factories making all the integrated circuit boards for the readers? And what about disposal of eBook readers? Paper rots...

        7. Electronic media are great for giving to friends. I email .pdf manuals quite often. Did I mention "no packing or postage"?

        You can buy a paper book and legally loan it to a friend or give it to someone else. Is a PDF going to be licensed in the same way? What about digit

    • 1. Someone will steal an iPad or eBook reader from your bag at the airport, not a dog-eared paperback.
      On the other side, you have to carry the dead weight of some paperbacks in your luggage, instead of just one light eBook reader.
      2. For all the tree-huggers out there, you can only use paper from sustainable sources.
      How exactly do you do that? I mean, if you don't happen to be the publisher of the book.
      3. If it takes you 12 hours to read a book from start to finish, it will take you the same time to read the

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642)

      2. For all the tree-huggers out there, you can only use paper from sustainable sources.

      And the ink? And the diesel trucks shipping it all over? I find that all unlikely.

      3. If it takes you 12 hours to read a book from start to finish, it will take you the same time to read the eBook. On most devices that means carrying around a spare set of batteries or finding somewhere to recharge.

      Slashdotters are just weird. Every day, they drive their car 600 miles without stopping, ten hours continuous, so electric cars are totally useless for them. They only read books in continuous 12 hour stretches, always at the beach in full sunlight, always far away from an electrical outlet.

      4. Electronic media is all about "me me me" whereas physical media can be loaned to family and friends, thus encouraging more social interaction.

      My oh my, you're hanging out with the wrong crowd, if you think you can't share electronic media.

      5. A used book can be given away to a charity or be sold to go towards the price of the next book.

      I give away electronic media, and app

  • Same mistakes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:11PM (#32410876)

    They don't want to make the same mistakes, and yet they're following the same path anyhow.

    DRM DOES NOT WORK.

    If someone tried to sell me a security measure that encouraged thieves to attempt to steal my products while preventing my legit customers from using them and made everyone angry, I'd tell them where to shove it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by binarylarry (1338699)

      The goal isn't to permanently lock down the media forever. It's to make it hard to copy during the initial high sales period. Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes it doesn't.

      But flatly saying it "doesn't work" is misinformed, not insightful.

    • Re:Same mistakes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by m2shariy (1194621) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:36PM (#32411214)
      Yes this is a DRM issue. Each vendor has it's own DRM scheme and typical reader does not support all schemes, so each vendor pretty much requires it's own device. And yes, I bought a DRM protected book for my device once, making it work was one of the most revolting computer experiences I've ever had. Since then I just download my books DRM free.
  • Our fondest wish is that all the devices become agnostic so that there isn’t proprietary formats and you can read wherever you want to read.

    I'm continually amazed at the extreme terminological imprecision of some people in the tech industry.

    The word agnostic means someone who believes it's impossible to know whether God exists or not. It does not mean a device which can display book files from multiple publishers. That new usage is not even vaguely analogous to the old one, because it does not connote

  • Let's get together and call it text. Oh gosh! Somebody did that a couple of hundred years ago.

  • .txt has no image capacity and formatting is difficult.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      The 'rtf' standard is different in every single Microsoft (its creator) application that supports it.

      Its not actually a standard more like a collection of formats that closely resemble each other but aren't actually the same in subtle ways that you'll never figure out.

  • I don't think publishing will see nearly the same scope of piracy due to the nature of their customers (well read, well heeled. educated, and generally able to afford books). Also, any idiot can put together a few microchips a battery and a headphone jack with a digital watch display. The internals of an ebook reader are about the same as an MP3 player, but you need a decently high quality screen and great battery life to really use pirated ebooks. The vast, vast minority of people read entire novels in the

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Osty (16825)

      You missed the fact that many people already have an ebook reader and don't even know it. Do you have an iPhone or iPod Touch? Then you have access to multiple e-readers, from commercial one-store-only readers like Amazon's Kindle, B&N's eReader (reskinned and restricted version of Fictionwise's eReader), or Kobo to open readers like Stanza [lexcycle.com] (the best reader on iDevices by far, though for best iPad support you need to jailbreak and install FullForce). Don't have an iDevice? That's okay. There are e-

  • by CritterNYC (190163) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:53PM (#32411418) Homepage

    They're making the EXACT same mistakes as the music industry. They don't want a universal format. We have one. It's called ePub. They want universal DRM. Which isn't gonna happen.

    The music industry tried the same thing. We wound up with multiple different DRMed formats that only worked on specific devices. All were incompatible with each other. Most were overpriced compared to CDs (the elimination of the physical distribution and associated costs should have been factored into digital sales from day one). And if someone did try to make a tool to unlock your music from a device so you could use it on another device you owned, they were sued... and it was made illegal even for fair use with bought-and-paid-for legislation in the US. So, everyone got used to stealing music, since it was the only way to actually get what you want on the device you wanted it and be able to listen to it anywhere.

    Now, the Big Publishing is making the exact same mistakes. Insisting on DRM. All of it is on different platforms in different formats. None of it works with anything else. And the pricing is absolutely absurd compared to paperback sales. So, what happens? Everyone is starting to steal books using file sharing, etc. Big Publishing is already losing, they just don't realize it yet. And for all their whining about wanting a universal format and not wanting to make the same mistakes as Big Music, history is already repeating itself.

  • I cannot believe they are so worried about format as their big mistake. They have already made the mistake and that was equating ebooks to hardcover books in order to justify jacking prices to the Moon. Publishers think that since the ebook costs less than a hardcover that it's a deal - sorry it's not. I cannot trade, share, sell, or easily annotate an ebook. Likewise expecting ebook sales to support pulp sales is a huge mistake and they are making that too - they said as much by justifying high prices by talking about how much it costs to PRINT books.

    Folks, a single ebook is about 500K to download. If you do not price that thing appropriately it's going to get pirated to hell and back. At the prices Amazon WAS charging I was buying more books than I had in years and loving life. Now books are being held back and prices are near double for many books. People don't upload just one book they upload entire author catalogs and it takes minutes to download a life's work.

    After all that the industry is worried about FORMAT being a big issue? Holy shit! What a bunch of clueless fucks. They are doomed to repeat EXACTLY what the music industry has suffered if not worse. http://blog.macmillanspeaks.com/ [macmillanspeaks.com] Read that blog, what a pile of self serving steaming manure. Macmillan lead the charge for higher prices, they can now reap what they have sown as folks find alternative means with little trouble.

    There's one bright spot. Authors are waking up to the fact that they can sell on their own. they can sell to Amazon, they can sell to Apple, and they can make MORE money and sell for LESS. Anything $1.99 to $9.99 and the author gets 70% - that's huge. Books rejected by NYC big publishing are finding a welcome home on these services. The ebook market is a mess and the fact that the big publishing houses think they have much pull is a joke. This is getting sorted out without them, they can whine and cry all they want but they are farting in the wind. Get the price issues solved and give more to the author or get run over... http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] Read the author blogs like that one, especially read the comments from other author's. They see the light, big publishing has their heads up their asses.

    My hat's off to Calibre for making format the least of my issues to worry about....

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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