World Wide Web Consortium and IDPF Confirm They’re Exploring Merging

In News by Porter Anderson

With a goal of combining forces by January 2017, W3C and IDPF formalize their plans in an announcement ahead of BookExpo America.
By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘To Align the Publishing Industry and Core Web Technology’

W3C_logo linedConfirming an April 26 report from Jim Milliot in Publishers Weekly, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) have announced their intention to explore merging.

In a statement embargoed to noon Eastern today (May 10), the two bodies cite their “mutual interest in combining their respective organizations to more quickly advance publishing technologies on the Open Web Platform.”

Tim Berners-Lee, Web inventor and W3C Director, and Bill McCoy, IDPF Executive Director, spoke about the plans following Berners-Lee’s keynote address at IDPF’s DigiCon conference on the eve of BookExpo America (BEA) 2016 in Chicago.

In their prepared statement, Berners-Lee is quoted as saying:

Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee

“We share an exciting vision for W3C and IDPF to fully align the publishing industry and core Web technology. This will create a rich-media environment for digital publishing that opens up new possibilities for readers, authors, and publishers,”

“Think about educational textbooks. The book content we know today is becoming highly interactive and accessible with links to videos and images from actual historical events and original research data.

“This provides greater authenticity and a more engaging learning environment for teachers and students.

“Whether it’s EPUB content or social marketing and reader engagement, Web technologies are foundational to enabling digital content to be created, distributed globally, and viewed on any Web-enabled device as well as dedicated reading apps and eReader devices.”

In this same statement, IDPF’s Bill McCoy said that representatives from W3C and IDPF for three years have been collaborating to identify how the publishing industry’s technology and expertise can improve the Web, and how Web technologies can create greater opportunities for the publishing industry.

IDPF logo lined“I’m enthusiastic about the prospect of joining forces with W3C,” IDPF President George Kerscher is quoted saying in the statement. “The IDPF’s track record of success in developing EPUB standards for the publishing industry will be complemented by W3C’s expertise in Web standards that enable accessible rich media.”

Jeff Jaffe, W3C CEO, is quoted: “With the full participation of the digital publishing community as well as the core Web platform developers, we accelerate the development of technology standards. Early Web technologies did not meet the rigorous needs of authors and publishers whose curated content is crafted into books, journals, and magazines with enhanced styling.”

EPUB Standards Development To Continue at W3C

The news release indicates that the next steps in combining the two organizations include soliciting comments from the respective memberships of W3C and IDPF and drafting a Memorandum of Understanding. Pending support from both memberships, completion of legal review, and the positive resolution of specific details, the goal is to combine the two organizations by January (2017).

Ensuing developments in EPUB technical standards are envisioned as continuing at W3C, along with broader work to improve publishing features across the entire Open Web platform.

W3C is described in the prepared materials as an international consortium in which more than 400 member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth and stewardship for the Web.

W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the United States; the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France; Keio University in Japan; and Beihang University in China.

W3C has offices in Australia; the Benelux countries; Brazil; Finland; France; Germany and Austria; Greece; Hungary; India; Italy; Korea; Morocco; Russia; South Africa; Spain; Sweden; and the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The International Digital Publishing Forum is the global trade and standards organization dedicated to the development and promotion of electronic publishing and digital content consumption. IDPF members include publishers, technology firms, other industry associations, and government and educational organizations. IDPF is the developer of the EPUB standard format for interchange and distribution of digital publications.


A new story involving the announcement of a possible IDPF-W3C merger is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. Prior to that he was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, a channel at The Bookseller focused on digital publishing. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.