This action-packed two day conference was held at the extraordinary Librarie Mollat (the largest independent bookstore in France) and was attended by over 130 international delegates who came together to share innovations from a variety of different perspectives. The audience consisted of technical people engaged in standardisation, open-source developers, publishers, e-distributors, reading system vendors, members of associations for the print-disabled and many more.
Virginie Clayssen (Editis) opened the conference with some stirring remarks on EPUB 3 and the creation of EDRLab – “To speed up the movement and facilitate the work of stakeholders, we must develop software components and facilitate the dissemination of EPUB3, online and offline, across all operating systems”. EDRLab needs the support of as many European countries as possible for this to be successful. See here for a complete transcript of Virgine’s welcoming address.
Bill McCoy (Executive Director of IDPF and President of the Readium Foundation) followed showing his support for EDRLab, IDPF’s pleasure at the new relationship and thanks to the French Government for their support of EDRlab in leading the way with digital standards in Europe. He stressed that we are part of a global community with broad goals for EPUB. Ebooks are just the first step and he urged us to look further and think bigger. IDPF’s mission is to build an open accessible digital publishing ecosystem.
Readium’s Ric Wright and EDRLab’s CTO, Laurent le Meur took the stage to present a roadmap for Readium. Ric highlighted the 20 applications which are based on readium – “that’s the beauty of open source”. He called for support from developers, testers and financing – all would be very welcome to realise the potential of the Readium SDK project. Laurent stressed that EDRLab focusses on the freedom, accessibility and interoperability that readium gives.
Micah Bowers (BlueFire) enthralled us with his presentation on mobile. He opened with an announcement of the forthcoming Cloudshelf reader app from BlueFire due out in May, based on Readium SDK and fully EPUB 3 compliant. The mobile content experience isn’t just about delivering standalone books as we need to deliver content to an entire ecosystem. Optimising content for mobile also is not just about reflow, Micah pointed out. The art form of producing successful adaptive layout is the future of content on screens – giving us the ultimate reader experience.
Nicolas Georges, the French Minister for Culture and Communications gave a rousing plenary speech highlighting the government’s support of EDRLab so that all conusmer opinions can be represented. The ministry’s focus on accessibility and access to libraries for readers can be realised through EPUB and the interoperability that it offers. He urged the publishing industry to deliver on these.
Bill Rosenblatt (Giant Steps Media Technology Strategies) gave us an update on content protection and LCP (Readium Lightweight Content Protection) born from a need to have an interoperable DRM standard linked to EPUB. LCP has been pursued as a a sub-project of Readium SDK and is expected to provide a module for Readium SDK as well as server-side components. Finding at home at EDRLab, the LCP project is expected to be available from November 2016.
Alex Bernier (BrailleNet) and Daniel Weck (DAISY, EDRLab) spoke to us about accessibility with Alex giving a high level presentation on the need for accessibility in ebooks and explaining the term “print disabled” with Daniel following with the technical approach taking us on his Journey in Digital Accessibility. EPUB 3 provides a foundation for born accessible digital publications and Daniel called for further collaboration within the EPUB 3 ecosystem proposing an evolution strategy to align EPUB with the open web platform with accessibility as a core value. His slides are available here.
Markus Gylling (CTO of DAISY & IDPF) presented an overview of EPUB 3.1 confirming that open web platform alignment does indeed form part of the revision focus for EPUB3.1. It also includes the removal of several obsolete features as detailed in the current draft that is available for public comment. A new draft will be available in the near future and touching upon Daniel’s presentation Markus stressed that “if you are an accessibility expert then you can use EPUB to create something more accessible than humanity has ever seen”. An accessibility profile for EPUB is in the pipeline and can be adapted to all variations of EPUB.
Ivan Herman (W3C) followed with a presentation on Portable Web Publications (PWP). The mission of the Digital Publishing Interest Group at W3C (chaired by Markus Gylling and Tzviya Siegman) includes working on a future of digital publishing as Portable Web Publications. The difference between a book and a web application is becoming blurred these days particularly in education publishing and Ivan also envisages a time when the separation between publishing online as web sites and offline will be diminished to zero.
Bill McCoy joined Markus and Ivan to discuss the future of EPUB stressing that traditional publishers and web developers need to need to work together to invent a new paradigm. The rest of the afternoon was devoted to 3 workshops on accessibility, authoring & conversion and transmedia storytelling, each of which had a lively and interactive audience for debate and discussion.
Day Two opened with a keynote from Samuel Petit (Actialuna) on linearity within the digital reading experience. Encoding the reading experience can be an enormous challenge for designers and comic strip authors and Samuel aptly demonstrated many of these! He has proposed an EPUB evolution for linear reading to enable an improved interactive media experience for EPUB and the web.