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On the interoperability of e-books formats

A study into interoperability of e-book formats unveiled at the  EIBF Annual Conference, Brussels, 16 May
2013, commissioned  from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz by the European & International Booksellers Federation

A summary of the study in German and French are available in attachment below.

The study was conducted by Professor Christoph Bläsi and Professor Franz Rothlauf of  Johannes Gutenberg University, who said: “There is no technical or functional reason not to use and establish EPUB 3 as an/the interoperable (open) ebook format standard.

One short term obstacle is the non-availability of reader applications able to display all EPUB 3 features. However, this problem should be fixed soon by the IDPF Readium initiative which is developing an open source reference system and rendering engine for EPUB 3.”

Vice-President of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes,  in charge of the Digital Agenda,  praised
the study: “My wish is that booksellers in Europe can take initiatives and benefit from the growth in the ebook markets. This is why I welcome this study by the European Booksellers Federation. Interoperability is a major requirement to build a truly digital society. This applies to ebooks too. This study provides interesting insights on ways to reach true interoperability in the ebook market, through both interoperable ebook formats and interoperable DRM schemes. Now is the time for open standards regarding ebooks, just like has happened in other areas of the digital economy.”

John Mc Namee, President of the European Branch, EBF, said: “The lack of interoperability between formats
and platforms has been identified as one of the major obstacles hindering the Digital Agenda and is a real problem for booksellers in their daily contacts with their customers. On behalf of my colleagues from all Booksellers Associations in membership with EBF, I am very pleased that this study provides clear scientific evidence that interoperability is achievable. It also shows that there are alternatives to DRM’s and that content portability is feasible. Booksellers are keen to promote business models which make digital content easily accessible to the customers they are in touch with on a daily basis in their terrestrial or e-bookshops, the European readers.

Equally, booksellers are keen to sell e-books across borders and make as many customers as possible happy. They strongly support an open market, without territorial restrictions, in the full respect of copyright”.

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