The Business Impact of EPUB 3


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Bill Mccoy's speech at 2011 EPUB Asia-Pacific Summit in Taiwan
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The Business Impact of EPUB 3

  1. 1. The  Business  Impact  of  EPUB  3 2011  EPUB  亞太高峰會  (Asia-­‐Pacific  Summit) October  24,  2011 Bill  McCoy ExecuIve  Director,  IDPFGood morning. It’s a great pleasure be at an Asian event dedicated entirely to EPUB. I’m really excited about EPUB andespecially the new version, EPUB 3. I’m excited about the cool features and technology in EPUB 3 which was just finalizedearlier this month. But, excited as I am, I’m not going to talk about any of this today. Instead, I’m going to focus on thebusiness impact of the new release.
  2. 2. Working  to  enhance  global   availability,  richness  and   accessibility  of  digital  publicaIons   …  by  developing  and  promoIng   open,  interoperable  standards.But first a little digression.The IDPF is the global trade and standards organization for digital publishing. We have over 250members from all parts of the value chain. We’ve recently worked to define more clearly our uniquemission, which is to help make digital publications more broadly available and accessible. We do this, bydeveloping and promoting EPUB as the open standard format for representing eBooks and other digitalpublications interoperably.
  3. 3. This is exciting times for publishing– it really hit me visiting Frankfurt Book Fair and seeing a GutenbergBible in Mainz that we’re part of the biggest change to publishing in 500 years.
  4. 4. OK, 800 years
  5. 5. Bücher für Alle !I saw a slogan in Frankfurt that really resonated for me. “Books for everyone!”.
  6. 6. Libros digitales para todosI’m speaking at another conference this Thursday in San Francisco - one of thetalks has pretty much the same title.You could say that this is a distillation of the IDPF mission.
  7. 7. After Frankfurt I had a chance to enjoy a bit of Taiwan’s natural beauty. Thetrails to get to these places were amazing – both the journey and thedestination were very rewarding.
  8. 8. But I kept seeing signs that frankly kind of made me laugh. I mean, you’re walking to getsomewhere great, but you’re exposing yourself to danger to get there.
  9. 9. It’s  exciIng   Imes  for   publishing. But  very   challenging!One place even had a helmet-loaning station. In the US I think we’d just closethe trail.But where I was there, in a narrow rocky gorge, there was no other way to getto the beautiful places.And I started thinking it was a metaphor for what we are all going through inthe publishing industryIt’s exciting times, but also undergoing incredibly disruptive times.
  10. 10. Bücher für Alle ?This got me feeling doubful about our noble goals - every major technology transition creates winners and losers.And the reality is that authors and publishers need to get compensated, or else there won’t be much premiumcontent for readers. And the value chain that supports content creators needs to eat too or it won’t exist. So Istarted wondering whether EPUB 3 was really on track to meet those needs.
  11. 11. “Books for all started sounding kind of like a joke we make about politicianspromising “a pony for everyone!”.
  12. 12. Standards  have  absolutely   no  intrinsic  value …  their  only  point  is  to   improve  efficiency  of   soluIons  that  uIlize  themAnd really, IT standards don’t exist to achieve noble goals. And they rarely areinnovative, technically, because they aren’t themselves products or solutions.They are much more mundane things. Some people call IT standards“plumbing”, but I think even that’s giving standards too much credit. It’s veryvery rare that you need to use standards to create content or softwaresystems.To me, standards aren’t the plumbing for IT, they are just blueprints forfabricating plumbing components that plug together – they make buildingsolutions cost-effective and scalable. You could roll pipe and machine toolplumbing fittings but it would take you a lot more money and time. You usestandard fixtures when you build a house because it makes business sense.So, for an IT standard to be valuable it has to significantly improve businessresults for adopting organizations. Otherwise, it won’t be adopted. And there’s awhole lot of standards sitting on the shelf to prove that point.
  13. 13. How  will  EPUB  3   impact  your  business?So the only way it really makes sense for you to evaluate the latest release ofEPUB is from a B2B perspective. It’s not about cool technology or noble goals.The key question is about impact on your business.So, let me get to it.
  14. 14. EPUB  3   speaks  your  languageFirst of all, I think everyone knows that EPUB 3 adds global language support, Vertical writing, writingdirection, page progression direction, ruby, OpenType fonts, and more. I won’t go into any details ordemonstrations of this but I suspect you’re going to hear a lot about this from other speakers today. Thisdoes illustrate a key point about the relationship of EPUB to broader Web Standards. EPUB is based onWeb Standards which is a key benefit of EPUB. But, global features in CSS such as writing modes werekind of languishing in an unfinished state. The W3C has may priorities and commercial publishing andtypography are not necessarily high on their list. But that is precisely why IDPF exists, to serve thatcommunity. So, IDPF took the initiative in helping to drive them forward, working in liaison with W3C CSSWorking Group. So this is a case where EPUB is helping to advance Web Standards, not just followingthem.So, EPUB 3 brings you an immediate and direct benefit by supporting your content that requires thesefeatures, and indirectly because it’s going to lead to Web browsers getting more of these features as well.
  15. 15. EPUB  3  makes  enhanced,   interacIve  contentEPUB 3 is based on HTML5. I guess everyone who has heard of EPUB 3 knows that and also knows that HTM5 adds video andmultimedia features. Of course, readers increasingly are going to expect publications to appropriately take advantage of the digitalmedium. Children’s books are a natural, textbooks will increasingly be expected to contain multimedia and interactivity –simulations, built-in assessments, etc. New kinds of transmedia creations for entertainment are being invented every day bycreating author-slash-artists. EPUB 3 is a platform that enables all of this innovation, in publications that can be downloaded andused offline as well as consumed online “from the cloud”
  16. 16. …  everywhere  …And that content can be used everywhere. There’s no need to depend oncustom platform app development or proprietary runtimes whether they begeneral purpose like flash or silverlight, or custom publishing-focusedsolutions. Every modern browser now supports HTML5, and Reading Systemsare increasingly powered by browser engines (like Apple iBooks which isbased on the Webkit engine also used by Safari). And as browsers get fasterand more capable, you get the benefits for free.
  17. 17. …  scalable  …And EPUB 3, by being based on HTML5, enables using standard Webtechniques to implement interactive functionality. That means you don’t needspecialized and expense app developers or specialists in proprietary formats,but can leverage widely available skills that you’re already using for webdevelopment. As publishers, you need to produce at scale. You can’t afford tohand-craft titles one at a time – you’ve got to have replicable processes inplace.
  18. 18. HTML5  is     opImized  for   web  applicaIons   chrome.angrybirds.comI’ve been talking up HTML5. So why do we even need EPUB 3 – why not justuse HTML 5 as-is?Well HTML5 is pretty awesome, but the focus is not on documents orpublications. It’s app.It’s amazing to me that a pretty engaging and immersive application like AngryBirds can now be implemented in HTML5. That’s just the tip of the iceberg ofwhat you are going to start seeing.
  19. 19. What  can  you   do  with   HTML5   content?But if you look at the source for Angry Birds in HTML5 it looks a lot likespaghetti. A thicket of markup, style sheets, and mainly a lot of JavaScript anddata. Because of the legacy of hand-coded HTML, it’s not even possible toreliably parse HTML markup with standard tools… “street HTML is basically ajumble.The only thing you can really do with an HTML5 app is “run it” and see whathappens. That makes It much, much harder to repurpose, to distribute throughchannels, or even to archive it with confidence that it will work in browsers nextyear. It may not even work right now if some of the various assets and servicesit points to all across the Web aren’t available.So you might say that HTML5 is powerful, but too wild for what publishersneed for scalable replicable processes.
  20. 20. EPUB  3  is  HTML5  domesIcated • Structured • Navigable • Packaged • XML • InteroperableSo a critical critical business benefit of EPUB 3 is that it is not just HTML5 – itmakes HTML5 much more useful.EPUB 3 is HTML5 content that follows rules defined in our specifications tomake that content structured, to ensure that it can be navigated, that ispackaged together with all necessary assets for offline consumption, and thatuses XML for all components including using XHTML not “street HTML”. Theresults of this provide interoperability, which means tools and solutions thatproduce and consume – or ingest – EPUB can interoperable with each other.This last one is a key point. I predict that we are going to see a proliferation ofHTML5-based publishing solutions from vendors offering some of the othercapabilities in a different way than EPUB 3. After all the IDPF has no monopolyon using HTML5, and there are a lot of ways that some of these things couldbe done. But make no mistake about it – vendors offering HTML5 solutionsthat are only “EPUB like” won’t deliver the interoperability of EPUB 3. To goback to the plumbing analogy, their fittings will work best, or even only, withtheir pipes.I’ll come back to this vendor angle in a few minutes but first a bit more aboutwhat we’ve added in EPUB 3.
  21. 21. EPUB  lets  content  reflow 21everyone probably knows that EPUB is designed to support reflowable content, that can for example have 3 columns on a large PC screen,and 2 columns on a tablet. Panning & zooming around a fixed-format PDF on a 6” or smaller screen is not one of life’s most pleasantexperiences, and consumers have rapidly voted with their feet in favor of reflowable content.
  22. 22. EPUB  3  is  also  for  fixed  layoutBut, not all content is able to reflow easily. And, currently, if reflow is chosen then there is no way for publishers to convey page-levelformatting. If you’ve got a tablet then a larger page format may be very readable. So we have already started seeing adoption ofnew features in EPUB 3 – inherited from HTML5 - that enable reflow. Apple has jumped the gun a bit on EPUB 3 and fixed formatand it’s taking off rapidly. This is an example of fixed-layout content that arguably could have been done in a reflowable manner, butit may not have been cost effective and may not have been a good iPhone or e Ink experience.
  23. 23. Fixed-­‐Layout  EPUB  -­‐  2This is an example of a kind of content that you might say is inherently paginated. Of course manga – comics – is another.
  24. 24. You have the kind of “spreads” you see in magazines – this one came from a book though. These are all real commercial titles
  25. 25. Now, I’m cheating a bit by claiming this as an EPUB 3 feature. But, hopefully only a little. EPUB 3 does add the basic capabilitiesneeded for fixed layout – absolute-position CSS as well as Scalable Vector Graphics – but we left out some of the metadataneeded to tie it all together properly. As tablet-based reading systems proliferate we need to make sure that the content beingcreated remains fully interoperable. And comics have additional requirements. So tomorrow we are going to have an IDPF technicalworkshop here in Taipei to discuss fixed layout support in EPUB.I’m being a optimistic that the IDPF workshop here tomorrow will be fruitful and help us avoid fragmentation in this key area.
  26. 26. EPUB  3  is  for  apps  and   websites  tooAdopting EPUB 3 is also an express lane for making it more economical and scalable to createapplications and websites too.
  27. 27. using  EPUB  with  browser  under   the  skin  saves  Ime  and  money“There’s an app for that” has become a cliché. But it’s also something your CEO may be making a must-do. Custom apps can certainly be developed without utilizing standards. But designing around EPUB 3 is a smart move. Under thecovers, this popular app is a thin veneer over an EPUB-based reading system that utilizes the Webkit browser engine built in to iOS.This architecture frees the editorial and production team to focus on the content and the mobile app developers to spend their(scarce and expensive) cycles on delivering a differentiated and engaging experience, with a lot less time needed to port it to otherplatforms, since browser engines are on all of them. And a similar division of labor can work well for managingproduction of excerpts and other content that you are distributing as web pages.Now, I’m not arguing that every app publishers build should use EPUB. If your app will really be a customUI over a granular database form of your content, with no beginning-middle-end order, and not even anyarticles or stories, then a completely custom app might be a better fit. But a whole lot of the time, the titlespublishers create will have aspects of stories to them – and after all humans are hard-wired for stories –and using EPUB 3 can really be a win.
  28. 28. EPUB  3   makes  your  content   accessible …  to  a  vastly  larger   marketEPUB 3 is superseding a specialized format (DAISY DTBook) for making publications accessible to people with disabilities. This is areally big deal for this community and is the result of a close collaboration between IDPF and DAISY and its stakeholders. Even ifyou dont need any features from EPUB 3, the benefit of switching from EPUB 2 simply in using HTML5s semantic markup may beworth the upgrade all by itself. And meeting accessibility mandates is increasingly important for publishers.But the business benefits of accessibility are not just for satisfying mandates for accessibility to the blind. The revenue opportunitiesfrom accessibility are much much bigger than that. More and more people need larger print to comfortably read, and distributinglarge-print p-books for every title is not realistic. Dyslexic and physically disabled readers also find traditional paper bookschallenging. By some estimates as many as 20% of people have disabilities relative to reading... thats a big market to leave on thetable. And, we are all “situationally disabled”—we shouldn’t read while driving, and most of us while learning a to read—either aschildren or as adults learning a foreign language—have wanted to listen and read simultaneously. Every EPUB-based e-book canbe, with a single click to increase the font size, a large-print edition. EPUB 3 also supports “media overlays” that enable prerecordedaudio to be synchronized with text (and it’s already in Apple iBooks). Offering up combo e-plus-audio books isnt about accessibility,its about a whole new business opportunity. I was going to demo this but I’m betting that you’re going to see it from one of the otherspeakers later today.
  29. 29. EPUB  3  is  a   strategic  weapon   for  publishersWell, now that I’ve talked about some of the specific ways EPUB 3 can deliverbusiness benefits I want to step back and look at the big picture. EPUB 3 canbe a key weapon for publishers and others – it’s strategic, not just tactical.
  30. 30. There’s a poker term called having “hand”. If you have it, you have a lot moreoptions, a lot more leverage.In negotiations with digital distribution partners EPUB 3 gives you “hand”. Evenvendors who have stuck to proprietary formats have had to create workflowsaccommodating EPUB. Most of the titles Amazon sells for Kindle were sent tothem by the major publishers as EPUB 2. Last week Amazon announced theyare following the footsteps of EPUB 3 and adopting HTML 5.
  31. 31. Why is that good? Remember, this is some solution providers’ ideal world.As publishers, you want to get your premium content to readers. A level playingfield is much better for you.EPUB, developed via an open and transparent process, and freely usable by everyone without patent encumbrances, ensures that“level playing field”.Now – some of you in this room ARE solution providers, not publishers. Probably YOU’D like to end up in control. But the reality isthat chances are slim for that to happen. EPUB 3 gives you plenty of room to differentiate your solutions and add value. Things likenavigation experiences, social reading, and much more are totally up to you. And certainly you are better off competing on a levelplaying field than having it tilted against you. But you are free to attempt to tilt as much as you want – consider IDPF an insurancepolicy.
  32. 32. And for publishers the risk is worse than just being disadvantaged. You might get locked-in. Standardizing on EPUB 3 for enhancede-books is a smart move to avoid that outcome.Your content is king; don’t sell it out. Even if vendors offer to help subsidize conversion – there’s no free lunch, that bill will comedue, sooner or later.You need replicable processes that are cost-effective – publishing for every proprietary platform du jour just doesn’t scale.It creates a legacy headache.And remember that each format you authorize for distribution multiplies the risk of introducing errata and other brand-diminishingartifacts.Just because someone says it’s HTML5-based that’s not good enough – remember, you want interoperability, to use standard toolsand services. There’s too much variation in “raw” HTML, too much room to create lock-in.
  33. 33. What  if  all  digital  books   were  controlled  by  a   few  commercial  companies?The worst-case scenario is if one or more vendors ends up in total control overdistribution of all books.It seems pretty obvious that some are trying to follow the iTunes/iPod playbook, and that the risk of one or perhaps a fewcommercial vendors effectively controlling all commercial publishing is now an obvious danger.Now, some folks in publishing may not be too alarmed. Adobe’s dictatorship during the desktop publishing era (PDF, PostScript)was, by and large, benevolent, But, Adobe’s focus was on authoring tools, and now the issue is a potential chokehold on alldistribution.If that should happen, based on from the iTunes/iPod model we can bet where the profits will go – to those who end up incontrol of distribution.Adopting EPUB 3 and making it your standard is a weapon to guard against that outcome. Because, no company controlsEPUB or the Web Standards it uses.
  34. 34. adopIng  EPUB  will make  happy  readers  And, consumers and the libraries, government agencies, and other advocatesare waking up to this danger too. Adopting EPUB 3 is smart brand marketing tosavvy consumers – letting them see that you are going to be a doorway tocontent, not a gatekeeper keeping them from it.Practically speaking, using EPUB ensures that you’ll get your content outeverywhere – and readers want your content on the devices and apps theywant to use.Last but not least consumers are increasingly noting quality defects in eBooks– standardizing on distributing EPUB to your channels and insisting onconsistent handling will maximize consistency of your reader’s experience withyour content. After all you’re the publisher, and when there’s a typo or artifact inthe content, it’s going to reflect back onto your brand more so than the readingsystem vendor.
  35. 35. It’s  your  EPUBAnother reason to adopt EPUB 3 is that you made it. EPUB 3 was developed by an open process over the past 18 months. We hada working group of over 100 members, and I know a number of you are hear in the audience today. 2 of the 4 F2F meetings duringthat process took place in Asia, one in Sapporo and one right here in Taipei.EPUB’s custodian, the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) is the only global trade and standards organization specificallyfor the digital publishing industry. And EPUB is the only publishing format that’s been developed in this kind of open, transparentprocess.That development continues and I encourage you, if you are not already a member, to join in order to get a seat at the tableMembership includes over 250 publishers, associations and governmental organizations, libraries and vendors. I’m delighted withthe rapidly growing membership in IDPF from Asia, with Taiwan being the fastest growing membership of all. Thank you for yoursupport!You already indirectly support the IDPF if you are a part of member group that has already joined IDPF, such as Japan ElectronicPublishing Association, Electronic Book Publishers Association of Japan, our hosts TPDF, BISG, EDItEUR, and IDEAlliance, Manypublishers, small and large, also value direct membership in the IDPF to give them a seat at the leadership table in settingdirections and priorities for enhancing and supporting this key standard. Of course membership brings other benefits such asnetworking opportunities, discounts to conferences, and so forth. So I certainly encourage you to consider joining IDPF as well asadopting EPUB 3 in your business.
  36. 36. The  future  of   publishing is  up  to  youBut I want to stress that the IDPF is not a source of solutions.As mentioned, standards exists only as a lubricant.Ive been talking about the business benefits of some of the things EPUB 3 is, and I also want to mention a key thing that it isnt.EPUB 3 describes it doesn’t’ prescribe.EPUB 3 doesnt say anything about what books and magazines in the digital world look like, or how we engage with them. No morethan HTML spec said anything about Facebook or Google.I think its an important property of standards - a requirement really - that it not be where you try to do innovation. Thats particularlyimportant here because none of us really know what the future of books and magazines is going to be - there are going to be waysto tell stories and teach that havent even been imagined yet, so how can we possibly standardize the future of the book?EPUB 3 is going to be a great foundation for that future, but its really just a tool. EPUB takes care of the boring stuff so you caninnovate by delivering compelling content and experiences. It’s up to you to create the future of publishing.
  37. 37. Let’s  keep  moving!Just remember, please don’t linger...And clearly we are moving fast. We got EPUB 3 done in a year, which for astandard is light-speed.And, Im eager to hear from other speakers today about innovation with EPUBthats going on all across Asia and Im delighted that all of you have investedyour valuable time in todays program.
  38. 38. EPUB  is  open  for  business.To sum up. a global open standard for digital publications is good - because its good for business. which is ultimately what we needto make "Books for All!" a reality not just a slogan.EPUB is that global standard and we’re working to make EPUB 3 an accelerant – helping you create and distribute compellingcontent: broadening your reach, increasing engagement of your readers and lowering your costs. The platform to build yourinnovation on. Thank you.
  39. 39. Any  quesIons?