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ECRG Project

Notes from the coffee shop by the front line.

First day back from the London Book Fair, and here are some thoughts. They’re not organised, and not considered, but they are thoughts:

It’s encouraging to see the surge in interest in digital books, ebooks and even the inevitable cooing over the iPad, but what’s less convincing is the snake oil salesmen hawking their XML conversion wares as the answer to everyone’s problems. For many, many publishers, a grasp of XML conversion is integral to success in a electronic marketplace, but it’s not the whole answer, and judging by the fudged response I got when asking about complex typography and full page images, it’s going to ask innovation to find somewhere else to go when the revolution comes.

A book like Steven Hall’s Raw Shark Texts asks difficult questions of not only its reader, but also its typesetter and publisher. EBook files can’t, it appears, handle something like Hall’s Ludovician Shark image (below), and that’s going to leave a significantly interesting section of the market unsupported. Or looking for an App developer.

Incidentally – salespeople from BCL NuMedia, if you really think that all Enhanced Editions do is slap some author interviews onto an XML ebook and push it out as an app, then you’re welcome to your 360 degree ‘solution’ to digital publishing. See you next year when you’ll still be selling orphaned e-works as if they were new…

Ether books, on the other hand – you have something special and you should be wished every success. Especially if you get into the Academic market.

More soon…


One comment for “Notes from the coffee shop by the front line.”

  1. Not only can’t ebook files handle the shark image, most ereader apps have less typographic support than Netscape 4.0.

    Most ereaders don’t support line-height, offer a very limited selection of fonts, don’t offer any kind of font embedding, don’t support any of the CSS positioning features, no control over letter spacing or word spacing.

    Think mid-nineties www and you’re in the ballpark.

    iBooks offers a little bit of hope because it’s the only one actually based on a web browser, but first tests there indicate that a swathe of CSS features webkit supports have been deliberately disabled.

    You’ve seen this?: http://craigmod.com/journal/ebooks/

    Posted by Baldur Bjarnason | April 22, 2010, 11:32 am

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