The drive to legitimize electronic books got a big boost today as Microsoft joined a slew of major
publishing firms, electronics manufacturers, and others who are working to
establish a set of open standards for the emerging industry.
The announcement was made at the first electronic book conference, sponsored
by the National Institute of Standards and
Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where the software giant joined
its new allies in the fight for eBook acceptance. Some of its new partners
include publishers Bertelsmann,
HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Putnam, Simon & Schuster, and Time Warner Books.
eBooks are digital versions of printed books, which display on specialized
reading devices or on PCs and laptops. The group of firms said today that they
plan to collaborate on a common set of specifications.
The firms hope that such specifications will allow titles to be read on all
machines using these standards. It will also allow writers and their
publishers to reach a wide audience without having to separately
reformatting their titles for each machine, Microsoft said.
"The goal is to create as many titles as possible and win as many customers
as possible--as fast as possible," Dick Brass, vice president for
technology development at Microsoft, said in a statement. "The idea is to
get eBooks off the ground."
At the conference, Microsoft announced the Open eBook standard for eBook
file and format structure, which is based on HTML and XML languages used to
format information on Web sites.