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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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The Rise of eBook Applications

Posted on Dec 12, 2012 in Future of eBooks | 1 comment

Tomorrow’s eBook will become an interactive platform for third-party applications—software that delights targeted reader audiences. There are already a variety of apps in mobile and tablet marketplaces that would complement many genres: cooking apps, history apps, and Harry Potter apps. But the development of independent software applications that can be plugged directly into an eBook will drive a new type of app marketplace that will make eBooks more compelling, interactive, informative, and fun.  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 Books have historically been a static, linear medium: we progress from page one through to the end, and any interruption means a break in the flow. But society has been shifting to more of an interrupt-driven culture where multitasking meets multimedia. While Baby Boomers might have driven their parents crazy by watching TV while doing homework, today’s youngest generation is adept at combining simultaneous phone, text, web surfing, YouTube watching, and music listening (hopefully not while driving). The eBook of the future will be poised to cater to this “ADD Culture” by changing the linear, personal nature of reading into a dynamic, multimedia-enhanced experience. A year ago the EPUB3 standard, one of the most popular and open (non-proprietary) eBook formats, developed definitions for how internal and external links will be handled within an eBook. This is an important first step that will finally let the barbarians through the gates. My guess is, half of you are excited about the possibilities of interactive eBook apps, and half of you are cringing at the prospect of dancing, singing, self-interrupting eBooks. (I’d love to hear comments from both groups.) For the latter, let me reassure you that the nature of reading will not change for everyone. You can always read without apps, and I’ll even offer up that some books are simply meant to be read, period, in that wonderful linear fashion. But many books, and many readers, will be improved with the onset of embedded applications. eBooks will feature companion apps to aid in networking, research, and play, and everything...

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