Publishing and editorial folk who wish to educate themselves in the changing craft of the book should track this ongoing discussion on the merits of browsers versus apps/devices –even if at times it becomes finely technical.
Books On Books logged several articles on this last year when Jason Pontin declared MIT Technology Review’s colors (decidedly HTML5). Here is another worth a quick read: 5 Myths About Mobile Web Performance | Blog | Sencha. A quick read? Yes, publishers and editors need not be HTML jockeys or Java connoisseurs, but they need to have a business-like grasp of what they are choosing to ride or drink.
Understanding why to publish an ebook through an app or in a browser-friendly format — or both — and what the implications are for crafting finds its rough print analogs in selecting the primary channel and form of publication (trade or academic, hardback or paperback) as well as the structure of the work (design, layout and organization) and working out the financial case for deciding whether to publish and how.
Last year, BOB bookmarked the following blog entries:
JMax (http://www.ccsp.sfu.ca/2012/11/books-in-browsers-2012-a-watershed/) “Books in Browsers is a “future-of-publishing” conference. It is arguably the future-of-publishing conference right now. As the name suggests, it is loosely arranged around the idea that the future of the book is wrapped up in the future of the (Web) browser.”
Jason Pontin (http://www.technologyreview.com/news/427785/why-publishers-dont-like-apps/) “Last fall, in version 3.0 of our apps, we moved the editorial content, including the magazine, into simple RSS feeds in “rivers of news.” We dumped the digital replica altogether. Now we’re redesigning TechnologyReview.com, which we have made free to use, and we’ll follow the Financial Times in using HTML5, so that our Web pages will look great on a laptop or desktop, tablet, or smart phone. Then we’ll kill our apps, too. Now we just need to discover how to make the Web pay.”
Nellie McKesson (http://toc.oreilly.com/2013/01/pdf-is-still-better.html) “… our popular eBook formats (EPUB and .mobi) and the eReaders built to read them also currently attempt to mirror the print structure, and limit how publishers are “allowed” to format their content. The EPUB 3 standard promises HTML5 support, but the various eReaders have been slow to adopt the new standard, and even when they do, they’ll likely still offer very limited support for just a subset of the spec. This means we’ll need to find platforms both to create and to distribute these new digitally-redefined eBook products. We’ll also need to train production teams to work with these new technologies, and find authors and editors who can think in the context of the screen.”
But while JMax, Jason Pontin, Anna Lewis and Nellie McKesson argued the case for HTML5 and designing for the screen, the browser developers were embracing PDF.