Understanding the Open eBook Specification

David Goldstein - Versaware, Inc.

Intended Audience: Manager, Software Engineer, Systems Analyst, Marketer
Session Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Sparked by the growth in WEB access and the availability of low cost, hand-held reading devices, the electronic publication industry is on the verge of redefining our relationship with the "printed" word. We are witnessing a revolution in the way we read, access, search and purchase "books". However, there are several obstacles to overcome. These include the plethora of word processing and publishing formats, the interoperability gap separating traditional and electronic publishing, the representation and encoding of a myriad of languages and alphabets, and the high cost of re-processing content for various target media.

The Open eBook (OEB) Specification is part of an industry-sponsored initiative to resolve many of these issues. The specification seeks to have an immediate and direct impact on the creation, advancement, and growth of a flourishing eBook industry. Fully XML and Unicode compliant, this specification supports feature-rich and media-enhanced electronic publication. Content providers can now feel confident that their documents can be delivered on a wide range of reading devices without the need to reprocess. Any OEB-compliant reading system will display these publications in a manner that most faithfully represents the original content, even in consideration of limitations of a particular reading device.

This presentation will introduce the goals and design principles of the Open eBook Specification and will detail its features, limitations and relationship to other industry standards. Current tools for producing and displaying OEB publications will be demonstrated and future directions of the OEB authoring committee's work will be described.

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30 October 1999, Webmaster