We’ve said before that Eric Hellman and his “Go To Hellman” blog is an essential read for those with an interest in ebooks, digital publishing, and related topics.
Hellman’s posts are almost always a combination of informative, timely, educational and thought provoking. We’re also impressed how he can often work in a easy to understand intro to get readers new to the topic up to speed while at the same time providing technical info and insight to experts.
In his latest post he reports from the IDPF Digital Book 2011 event in NYC last week about EPUB and EPUB 3.0.
“It’s OK for libraries to put things in their EPUB books.” That’s what Bill Kasdorf, a member of the EPUB Working Group, told me last week at the IDPF Digital Book 2011 Meeting. He checked with EPUB Revision Co-Editor Markus Gylling to make sure. I had been curious if libraries could put all their cataloging information inside an EPUB file instead of siloing it in their catalog system.
It may seem an odd question if you don’t know a few things about EPUB. EPUB is a standard format for ebooks. It’s used by Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Overdrive and many others not named Amazon. EPUB is near the end of a revision process that will result in EPUB 3.0.
The insides of an EPUB file could be greatly enriched by libraries, which have every motivation to enhance discovery both of the book and the information inside of it. But DRM gives the publisher and its delivery agents the exclusive ability to build context inside ebook containers. Libraries and readers are locked out. I think that for DRM systems to survive they will need to accommodate a more diverse set of user manipulations; author signatures are just the tip of the iceberg.
Finally, a company named GlueJar is mentioned in the blog post. GlueJar is a very new company that Eric Hellman launched in the past month. It’s working on an original and potentially groundbreaking approach to fund the relicensing of out of print, titles not available as ebooks, or otherwise hard to enjoy material under Creative Commons licenses. In the end, readers and libraries would gain access to free books and authors would receive “maximum value” for their work.
Btw, a librarian, Andromeda Yelto is a member of the GlueJar team.