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Hachette to Adopt the One Standard to Hopefully Rule Us All

According to Publishers Weekly, Hachette Book Group USA (which includes Grand Central Publishing, the house of Elizabeth Hoyt and Karen Rose) will adopt the International Digital Publishing Forum’s new file format standard for ebooks. The format standard allows a publisher to create just one digital book file instead of the 6-10 previously required. This cuts down on the time to create digital files and it also cuts down on cost.

I have no idea how this actually works, i.e., whether the one ebook format can be read by all the proprietary software out there like Adobe, Mobipocket, MS Lit, EReader, Sony and so forth but any movement toward one standard can only be a good thing for readers. However, Digital Rights Management can be layered on top of the book file and according to the IDPF FAQ, the consumers ability to move content around depends solely on the content be “unencrypted” which would not be what the big publishers are selling us.

Via Publishers’ Weekly.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Anji
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 11:52:51

    Very interesting. I wonder what that means regarding the proliferation of reading formats and proprietary readers.

    I hope that means that more ebooks will come out at the same time as the print copy. And I’m assuming it should also have implications on cost, if ebook creation becomes cheaper (though I’m not holding my breath).

  2. Steve P.
    Oct 27, 2007 @ 06:58:35

    The consumer will see only indirect benefits from this, but it is a step in the right direction.

    The main beneficiaries are the publishers, who now only have to distribute their files in a single format to the various format vendors. But each of those format vendors (mobi, microsoft, ereader, adobe, sony) will end up translating the epub document into their own proprietary format before it reaches the consumer. In some cases, internally the files will be nearly identical to epub (mobi, eti, microsoft lit) with proprietary DRM layered on top. In other cases, a translation will occur from epub to a proprietary internal format, followed by proprietary DRM.

    Bottom line: epub makes it easier and less costly for publishers to get books out to all the format vendors and should reduce costs for publishers and therefore maybe more print books will be put in ebook format. That’s a plus for consumers. However, the consumer will not see any other difference, there will still be a bunch of different ebook formats all with their own advantages and disadvantages, and still proprietary DRM from all the big trade publishers. That means that epub does *not* allow your mobi purchase to run on your microsoft reader application, for example.

    But this is a good thing, and is a first baby step to some kind of common format, perhaps, in the future.

  3. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 27, 2007 @ 11:36:16

    This stuff confuses me so much. I’m asking for a new handheld for Christmas because my little iPaq no longer holds a charge. After reading all sorts of reviews on what reads what “natively” and what reads which ebook formats, I threw a dart at the handheld dartboard and put a Palm T/X on my list. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed I can decently read ebooks on it.

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