A List Apart

Issue № 352

Enjoy our special two-part issue on digital publication standards.

Publication Standards Part 1: The Fragmented Present

by Nick Disabato · 16 Comments

ebooks are a new frontier, but they look a lot like the old web frontier, with HTML, CSS, and XML underpinning the main ebook standard, ePub. Yet there are key distinctions between ebook publishing's current problems and what the web standards movement faced. The web was founded without an intent to disrupt any particular industry; it had no precedent, no analogy. E-reading antagonizes a large, powerful industry that's scared of what this new way of reading brings, and they're either actively fighting open standards or simply ignoring them. In part one of a two-part series in this issue, Nick Disabato examines the explosion in reading, explores how content is freeing itself from context, and mines the broken ebook landscape in search of business logic and a way out of the present mess.

Publication Standards Part 2: A Standard Future

by Nick Disabato · 13 Comments

The internet is disrupting many content-focused industries, and the publishing landscape is beginning its own transformation in response. Tools haven’t yet been developed to properly, semantically export long-form writing. Most books are encumbered by Digital Rights Management (DRM), a piracy-encouraging practice long since abandoned by the music industry. In the second article of a two-part series in this issue, Nick Disabato discusses the ramifications of these practices for various publishers and proposes a way forward, so we can all continue sharing information openly, in a way that benefits publishers, writers, and readers alike.

More from A List Apart


Lyza Danger Gardner on Building the Web Everywhere

How do we get it done, now?

Every new standard has to start small, and we’ll always need to choose which API to back and which to pass over.

From the Blog

Writing to Think

It's true, writing about your work can be tough. Putting your thoughts out there for everyone to see—and comment on—can be intimidating. But, as Susan Robertson shows, it's a great way to clarify your thinking on tough problems, and can lead to new opportunities in the process.

On Our Radar: Each Button, a Special Snowflake

What grabbed our attention this week? We’re glad you asked. We’re digging the new design standards being shared by 18F and USDS; reading up on accessibility in design (and the notorious PDF!); learning to run better meetings; noodling around with responsive typefaces; and championing better ways to read the comments. Also, somebody likes raccoons. We think. We think that's what they meant.