Microsoft Applauds Success of Open eBook Members As Final Version of Specification Is Released

GAITHERSBURG, Md., Sept. 21, 1999 — The Open eBook Authoring Group today released the Open eBook Publication Structure Specification version 1.0 almost one year after Microsoft Corp. proposed the Open eBook standard for the emerging electronic-book industry.

Over the past year, members of the Open eBook Authoring Group – which includes publishers, eBook pioneers and other software and hardware firms – have collaborated extensively to complete a specification that outlines the format for books and other traditionally printed material to be easily converted from print to digital form. The Open eBook initiative includes the Authoring Group, as well as more than 40 other members representing major publishers, printers, eBook pioneers and software and hardware manufacturers, plus book distributors and retailers.

“The quick adoption of a uniform eBook standard is a milestone event in publishing,”
said Jack Romanos, president and chief operating officer of Simon & Schuster Inc.
“By removing uncertainty over competing formats, it provides all publishers with the impetus and the tools to move even faster toward publishing’s electronic future.”

The authors presented the final specification Tuesday at the second annual eBook conference, sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department’s Technology Administration.

“The Open eBook specification is a groundbreaking achievement that is sure to have a positive impact on the emerging eBook industry,”
said Dr. Victor McCrary, technical manager of Information Storage and Integrated Systems at NIST.
“The fact that representatives from such a diverse set of industries created and delivered a specification in just one year is an amazing accomplishment.”

The specification is based on the HTML and Extensible Markup Language (XML) specifications that define the World Wide Web. This approach greatly improves the user’s ability to read on screen because the text can reflow to fit any screen size – desktop computer, laptop, eBook device or Palm-size device. An alternate approach is static formatting, which
text so that it appears the same size whether viewed from a large desktop monitor or small handheld device. The Authoring Group’s decision to enable dynamic content, based on standards widely in use across the World Wide Web, helps ensure an optimal electronic reading experience for users.

The Open eBook initiative was proposed in October 1998 by Microsoft Vice President for Technology Development Dick Brass in his keynote speech at the world’s first eBook conference in Gaithersburg, Md. At the conference, sponsored by NIST, Brass argued for an open, nonproprietary standard for eBooks.

“The Open eBook group has earned a place in the history of publishing by developing the first specification expressly designed to enable electronic books,”
Brass said.
“Its efforts will allow publishers to create eBooks that will work on all devices and software supporting the specification. And it has done that quickly and with great teamwork.”

Following the most recent meeting of Open eBook members last spring, feedback on the draft specification was received by the Open eBook Authoring Group. Once an updated specification was ready, it was submitted to all Open eBook members for a final vote; members voted by an overwhelming majority to approve the final version 1.0 standard.

Those interested in obtaining a free copy of the specification or learning more about the Open eBook initiative can visit the Open eBook Web site at (connect-time charges may apply).

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