Readium Foundation Unites Int’l Parters to Develop EPUB Solutions

In Tech Digest by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

PARIS: Today at the Salon du Livre (the Paris Book Fair) launched its new EPUB3 SDK Project to develop a commercial grade open source rendering engine optimized for native apps on devices and to accelerate the adoption of EPUB3 and HTML5.

Of perhaps more importance is the announcement of the new membership-based nonprofit Readium Foundation, encompassing a consortium of numerous international fixtures in the ebook and digital publishing market.

The companies signing on include ACCESS, Aldiko, Bluefire Productions, Baker & Taylor, Benetech, Bokbasen, DAISY Consortium, Datalogics, De Marque, DILICOM,, Eden Livre (a joint venture of Gallimard, La Martinière and Flammarion), Editis, Evident Point, Feedbooks, Firebrand Technologies, Hachette Livre, IDPF, Izneo, Kobo, LIA (by Italian Publishers Association), Mantano, Numilog, Rakuten, Sony Corporation, TXTR, and Vibal Publishing House.

Perhaps most surprising is that so many direct competitors are working together on a single project.

So far, Readium has been able to offer Chrome browser extension (available on the Chrome Web Store) and the new SDK — with “a substantial donation of code and architectural leadership” from Kobo — should help “the implementation of EPUB 3 for native applications optimized for high performance on resource-constrained mobile devices.”

Bill McCoy, executive director of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) will serve as the interim director of the Foundation. He told Publishing Perspectives, “In the world of the Web there are two very major open souce activities — Apache (on the server side) and WebKit (Google Chrome and Apple Safari) — and they have raised the bar for open source implementation standards. But the establishment of the Foundation proves that he digital publishing community is stepping up to develop working code and establish their own standards.”

In particular, it appears to be a move for many in the digital publishing community to distance itself from outside vendors, such as Adobe, which failed to deliver EPUB3 and HTML5 support last year in deference to developing its own propriety solutions. (McCoy acknowledges that “someone” at Adobe cares enough about publishers to have been improving EPUB export through InDesign.)

McCoy believes that the Foundation, which will be working on dozens of projects in the future, will be able to “step in provide more consistency and interoperability.”

Ultimately, says McCoy, the establishment of the Foundation means that the competing partners “will have a viable EPUB3 and HTML5 solution faster than if they’d been working on it on their own.”

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.