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It’s fantastic to see more and more publishers beginning to distribute books in ePub format, but call the format by its real name!

I’ve seen “ePub in disguise” in a few places, most recently this release from Pan Macmillan:

If you click on the arrow, the site brings up a very long page explaining what all the various file formats are.  Discussing “Adobe Digital Edition” format:

ADE uses a format based on the Open Publishing Standard with the extension .epub, and so ADE files are also known as .epub or ePub. ADE will also display your PDF files in a double-page, single page, or fit-to-width view — or you can specify your own custom fit.

(Although it’s not mentioned on the book page, on the digitalist blog it was stated that this book is DRM-free.  I’m assuming, therefore, that this is truly just plain ePub, although there’s no way for me to be sure other than buying a £9.99 ebook.)

Now I worry a lot about making ebook technology comprehensible to the average person, so I sympathize with the urge to simplify. But:

  1. “ePub” is a pretty good label (other than that no one agrees on how to capitalize it). It’s short and evocative.
  2. Nowhere on the ebook help page does it actually say which format you need for what device.  If I bought a shiny new Sony PRS-505 in the UK, which format do I want?  What about on my iPhone? My Kindle? (It’s a UK site, but it’s also an ebook. There’s no reason why an American couldn’t buy it.)

The whole value of the ePub format is that it isn’t vendor-specific.  Disguising it under Adobe’s name just makes it harder for buyers to know they can read it on their Sony Reader or Stanza/iPhone, and that the book isn’t suddenly going to be useless when some proprietary device finally gives out.

Tags: ebooks, EPUB, eReader,

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