Content Standards for Electronic Books: The OEBF Publication Structure and the Role of the Public Interest

Abstract

In the emerging world of electronic publishing how we create, distribute, and read books will be in a large part determined by an underlying framework of content standards that establishes the range of technological opportunities and constraints for publishing and reading systems. But efforts to develop content standards based on sound engineering models must skillfully negotiate competing and sometimes apparently irreconcilable objectives if they are to produce results relevant to the rapidly changing course of technology. The Open eBook Forum’s Publication Structure, an XML-based specification for electronic books, is an example of the sort of timely and innovative problem solving required for successful real-world standards development. As a result of this effort, the electronic book industry will not only happen sooner and on a larger scale than it would have otherwise, but the electronic books it produces will be more functional, more interoperable, and more accessible to all readers. Public interest participants have a critical role in this process.