Last week I spent a busy couple of days connecting with the publishing community at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in New York. It’s been a few years since we’ve attended this show, but with our recent surge in publishing related projects, I felt it was a great venue to hear what others were doing and what emerging trends we should keep our eyes on.
The overwhelming message from the show was that “The book is not dead”. The format that’s been around for the past 500 years is not going anywhere. However, there are tons of new market opportunities around the book that publishers must begin experimenting with new business opportunities. What publishers need to keep in mind is their core focus and their business objectives. Technology providers are pushing publishers to quickly adopt new technology, in some cases, even before it is fully ready for mass adoption. A good example of this is the new draft specification for the ePub 3 standard that leverages rich elements based on HTML5 and CSS3. This standard does provide so much more for publishers, but there are significant limitations, as the functionalities of these technologies only really work in Safari or iBooks, which severely limits the publisher’s market. What publishers need to realize is that HTML5 is a continuum, that will roll out in progressive implementations and will take years for all features to be supported by all browsers. It’s a great direction but is still in its early days.