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What is the eBook Platform of Tomorrow?

Posted on Dec 14, 2012 in Future of eBooks | 0 comments

I’ve described several important aspects of the digital evolution of the book, making references to an overarching eBook platform that will embody all these wonderful technological advances. But let me take a moment to better define the eBook platform as I envision it, and to give this vision a name: the Miranda Proposal.  Read the series: “The Miranda Proposal: Tomorrow’s eBook Platform”: Prologue  part 1   part 2   part 3   part 4   part 5   part 6   part 7   Epilogue The platform isn’t the file format of the eBook itself, although that is a very important part of the equation. Today there are many eBook formats, but I believe that EPUB3 and its descendents will become the dominant standard. Most devices support the EPUB format, the notable exception being the Kindle, but Amazon may soon embrace EPUB3 as well. EPUB3 was developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum, and I have great faith in open standards, especially those that benefit society, level the playing field, and support device portability (and not a single company). A platform is also much broader than the specific eReader software used to read the eBook. There are many interesting eReaders available. Some, like the Kindle, are almost synonymous with their devices, although you can read Kindle books through a Kindle app on virtually all mobile devices and tablets. There are proprietary eReaders from companies like Microsoft and Apple, and open eReaders that support a wide range of formats. Some eReaders are already taking advantage of EPUB3 features, like rendering mathematical formulas, sharing annotations, and linking to additional resources. Some cater particularly to education, some to science and research. But the eReader is your point of contact with your eBook, it isn’t the whole platform. The eBook platform will be a much broader system, like Facebook or; one that extends the functionality of your eReader in multiple dimensions. One dimension I discussed in a previous post is the ability of the platform to support a vibrant third-party application marketplace, including application developers. Another aspect of the platform, also previously discussed, is the ability to extend into outside systems, especially social networking. An eBook...

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Social Reading: Beyond Gutenberg? Beyond Zuckerberg!

Posted on Dec 10, 2012 in Future of eBooks | 0 comments

In previous posts I’ve touched on some of the social-transformational aspects of eBooks, but perhaps the most interesting will be the effect of social networking. I’m going to propose in this blog post that the eBook platform of the future will support not just models for more social aspects of reading, but will support multiple reader personas to define how you interact with social networks.  Read the series: “The Miranda Proposal: Tomorrow’s eBook Platform”: Prologue  part 1   part 2   part 3   part 4   part 5   part 6   part 7   Epilogue Today we manage our career network on LinkedIn, and a more personal network in the Neverland of Facebook. But that really isn’t enough to define who we are to our different social networks. While, as Zuckerberg says, “you have one identity” on Facebook, the truth is, most people are not so easily homogenized, especially after college. Facebook is only now realizing the importance of separating out our college, family, and other social interactions. In one sense, the Facebook experience will only mature as Zuckerberg grows up and becomes more multifaceted himself. We really have many different personas based on our different roles, interests, and hobbies. Let me illustrate with an unapologetically narcissistic example: I read literature in the persona of a former English Department faculty member. I read programming manuals in the persona of a software developer. When I read martial arts books, I am the sensei. Books on wine and cooking touch me in my beloved role as a party host, while repair manuals speak to the former mechanic who still has a garage full of shop tools. These personas are unique; they don’t generally speak to overlapping social groups. (Unless of course I want to host a party for members of my social network that are mechanically-inclined martial artists who want to discuss Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.) More than any other media, what we read defines our interests, and who we are as a reader. So the eBook is the natural place to engage with that multifacetedness. The eBook needs to be a part of a larger eBook social platform, a foundation...

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