Open standards for digital books, the early days

Way back in 1999, the first draft of the Open eBook Standard was submitted for final approval. It evolved to become the current open EPUB standard.

Here’s what the man who spearheaded the standards-setting body had to say at the time:

It was critical for the success of the electronic book industry to unite and provide publishers and consumers with a common standard to which all eBooks could be formatted … Without a common standard, publishers would have to format eBook titles separately for each electronic device and the number of titles available for any device would be small. This would be a recipe for disaster.

Guess where that effort started.

7 thoughts on “Open standards for digital books, the early days

  1. If you follow the link in the post you’ll see where it started. The initial author-submission format was SGML as I recall and there was an add-in for Microsoft Word that could be used to create the SGML and something else that would make an eBook from it (perhaps in one step, I forget).

    I had that eReader installed on some systems, and I had some of the eBooks. Experience with that and with MSN Music later were what helped turn me off about DRM-ed materials that were locked to a machine and forever lost if not migrated/migrateable or the format/reader was abandoned.

  2. Microsoft in 1998. See

    1999 was the year that I retired from Microsoft from my position as a Senior Technical Writer. All the way back to 1995 Microsoft was already thin king about e-book standards. I and another writer in my group were sent the University of Wisconsin in Madison for an intensive seminar on SGML, which as you all know spawned HTML, XML, etc. There was also an executive from WordPerfect who attended the seminar. Some attendees were reluctant to state their company affiliations so I don’t know if Adobe or other interested parties were also there at that time.

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