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   Re: eBook Publishing DTD -- Preconceptual musings

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  • From: Jerome McDonough <jmcdonou@library.berkeley.edu>
  • To: xml-dev@xml.org
  • Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2000 10:55:07 -0500

At 11:06 PM 03/07/2000 -0800, Jon Noring wrote:
>As I continue to explore and study the needs of the upcoming e-book
>revolution, I have concluded that developing a basic, general, fairly
>compact, structurally-oriented e-book publishing DTD makes a lot of sense.
>If designed right, it should be able to admirably structure for
>presentation, say, 80-90% of all future e-books (most of which will have
>simpler layouts), the remaining fraction needing a "plug-in" DTD module to
>augment the basic DTD, or to use a different DTD.

Given that a fair number of people within the e-book publishing industry
sweated out what they thought was a decent, standard DTD for general
purposes in the Open eBook initiative, I'm not sure how much support you could
draw for this idea.  My impression from speaking with e-book publishers at the
NIST-sponsored e-book event last Fall was that those who were interested in
using XML were far more concerned about trying to prevent Adobe from making
PDF a defacto standard than they were about any deficiencies in the Open eBook
DTDs.  Getting publishers to consider another DTD would involve demonstrating
either 1. absolutely clear and saleable benefits to consumers in a mass market
(that is, why do I need something more advanced than Open eBook to sell John
Grisham novels online), or 2. a clear cost savings in the publication process.
Morever, these benefits would have to be clear enough to persuade publishers
to revisit the issue of what a standard DTD for e-book publishing should look
I think that's a pretty tall order.

You could probably demonstrate the need for a more refined,
DTD for publishing for particular niche markets, but at this point, the e-book
people are far more concerned with achieving a sufficiently large market to be
profitable.  Niche appeal, as far as I can tell, isn't on anyone's radar at
this point.

That being said, the Open eBook initiative appears to have a continuing
life in
the form of the Open Electronic Book Forum (http://www.openebook.org), and
from their recent press announcements it sounds like they want to continue
work for electronic books.  My suspicion is that getting everyone to agree on
management standards is probably at the top of publishers' list of things to
but you never know, they might be interested in the idea of a more
DTD or schema for e-books.  You might consider contacting them to see if
interest in pursuing this.

Jerome McDonough -- jmcdonou@library.Berkeley.EDU  |  (......)
Library Systems Office, 386 Doe, U.C. Berkeley     |  \ *  * /
Berkeley, CA 94720-6000    (510) 642-5168          |  \  <>  /
"Well, it looks easy enough...."                   |   \ -- /  SGNORMPF!!!
         -- From the Famous Last Words file        |    ||||

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