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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

Columnists

Rachel Andrew on the Business of Web Dev

Looking Outside

Partners in a small, close leadership team—such as in a family business—often know each other’s minds very well, and agree on most things. That’s great to keep things running smoothly (though sometimes there’s awkwardness when business disagreements intrude on home life). On the other hand, it can also lead to stagnation. Rachel Andrew is finding that an outsider’s perspective can help when partners can’t quite see eye to eye—or when they agree too much.

From the Blog

Prioritizing Structure in Web Content Projects

New content projects present a classic chicken-and-egg problem: should we start with the words, or focus on the structure they’ll take? There are benefits and challenges either way, but Eileen Webb has recently become a believer that starting with structure creates a better workflow for developers, designers and content creators alike.