EPUB Summit in Bordeaux, 7 & 8 april 2016

The first EPUB Summit organized by EDRLab took place in Bordeaux 7 & 8 april 2016. I publish here the speech I pronounced to launch the event. French version available here.

—- > To get an idea of the debates at EPUB Summit , a storify is availaible here.


EPUB Summit – Librairie Mollat – Bordeaux – 7-8 april 2016

by Virginie Clayssen (Editis)

I wish you all welcome to the EPUB Summit on behalf of the Steering Committee of EDRLab and its president, Pierre Danet, which itself will conclude the event.

Working on the EPUB standard, it is not only trying to solve the problem of transforming print books to digital ones.

This would be a nice program, given the complexity, variety and sophistication of these objects. And that is what, as digital managers, we predominantly occupied ourselves with in the publishing houses, the past eight years.

Markus Gylling had summarized in a presentation, EPUB 3 in 5 lines, and it already widely opens our horizon:


Open, industry-driven e-book format standard
Builds on W3C web standards (XML, HTML5, SVG, …)
Is nature agnostic: usable for books, magazines, corporate documents, …
Includes rich layout, media and interactivity features
Has fantastic accessibility support built-in

A word about the « agnostic » nature of EPUB: working on a standard that encompasses not only the book but also other types of documents is not indifferent. This forces us not to focus only on inside our business considerations to build more comprehensive and complex representations, useful in defining our digital strategies.

Because the temptation is great, once the « ebook moment »is past, once the production process are in place, much of the catalog is scanned, the new books systematically produced in ebook and print version, to think that we provided the efforts required, and that we can return to our small business, reassured by figures that show the strength of the paper market, with the certainty that digital will remain marginal, and thinking something like « much ado about nothing. »

And isn’t it exactly what we have done ?

We focused, and it was necessary, on our processes, what we know, and we have injected, because it was impossible to do otherwise, the needed technology to meet the most visible changes : new terminals allowing immediate access to books in digital version.

A bit like climate skeptics who observe weather and conclude that the time is not so hot, and will not believe in global warming until they have their feet in the water, something in us clings to the idea that the digital revolution, well, this is for others, but not for us : « see, print is doing well, and it has a bright future ahead of him.  »

Of course. And that’s OK.. But this does not prevent us from looking around, trying to understand what is happening because these fine days could well dwindle along with the older generations of great readers, our main customers. So we will have to consider new practices, new readings, new records; broaden our vision, anticipating trends, understand that yes, it was absolutely necessary to work on the transposition digital books, the digitization of the readability arts, but this does not exempt us from thinking of other forms of content, to observe the new uses, to welcome new proposals, to attract new audiences. If we don’t,, others will do it, and maybe already are doing it, drawing our future on our place. A future that must take into account the fact that YouTube, Wattpad, Instagram, Snapchat , Facebook, Netflix, Periscope entered the lives of many people ; that reading and writing are diversifying, becoming hybrid ; that today everybody practices fractional reading and worries about its ability to enjoy immersive reading. The relationship we have with still and moving images has also been completely changed.

EPUB3 carries a broader vision of digital publishing, closer to the the web, giving attention to all accessibility issues, welcoming sounds, moving pictures, interactivity, sophisticated layouts.

It will soon be five years since the EPUB 3 specification was published by the IDPF.

A specification, it’s great. But it remains a dead letter if the whole chain does not adopt and implement it, and whether the digital books respecting the specification can be played regardless of the terminal and the reading application used. To speed up the movement and facilitate the work of stakeholders, we must develop software components and facilitate the dissemination of EPUB3, online and offline, across all operating systems. The IDPF however, who watches over the standard and its evolution, is not designed to accommodate such developments.

We are in a hurry, we want accessible, interesting, innovative digital books, readable on all devices with all applications running on all operating systems. We want them now. We also want to protect books without despairing readers with unbearable manipulations.

Then in 2013, we have actively contributed to the creation of the Readium Foundation, in charge precisely to support the development of software components required for a faster adoption of EPUB3 by all stakeholders.

When Readium Foundation reported in 2014 that it wishes to strengthen in Europe and Asia, and open permanent entities on both continents, several European capitals were candidates. Why not install such an entity in Paris? Please consider register in the dynamic deployed there, as also here in Bordeaux, to accelerate and sustain the fabric of French start-ups? Here is an opportunity to do away with the outdated image that sticks, whatever they do, the skin of publishers, and to build the necessary bridges with the world of start-ups, incubators, and the French Tech . Cap Digital competitiveness cluster of Ile de France, will be our ally. Several publishers serve on its executive committee, and the idea caught on.

A few meetings at the cafe, some memorable meetings and some lunches later, several major French publishing group – Hachette, Editis, Madrigall, Média Participations – and the Cercle de la Librairie and the National Union of Publishing decide to involve and commit to supporting EDRLab.

Teams of the Ministry of Culture share their vision of an open and interoperable ecosystem for digital publishing. Nicolas Georges,their director, who honors us with his presence today, will attest to earlier, and explain why he has agreed to get involved very heavily in the installation of EDRLab in France . The Ministry of Economy also provides major support and the Centre National du Livre, thanks to its president Vincent Monad, and to François Rouyer-Gayette who is involved in our work.

The structure was created in July 2015. Its director, Laurent Le Meur, hired in October. Laurent recruits then a very strong team of skilled developers.
Some of you know one of them, who spoke repeatedly in meetings on accessibility. Daniel Weck, now divides his time between the Daisy Consortium and EDRLab.
Cyril Labordrie works also for two organizations, Cap Digital and EDRLab since the beginning of the adventure.

With them, we found the pretty crazy challenge to ride in a few weeks the event that brings us together today, a truly international event.

Yes, because even if EDRLab is strongly supported by French actors, public and private, the agency has an international vocation, especially European. I particularly want to welcome all those who have made a long trip to join us in Bordeaux. EDRLab needs membership publishers, distributors, booksellers, librarians, providers from the largest possible number of European countries.

I will not get into a long argument to convince you to become members of EDRLab: I rely on all the speakers of the EPUB Summit to demonstrate the usefulness and value of this shared work.

I also want to welcome our American guests. I can mention all of them, but I can thank them for accepting our invitation.

Finally, a special mention for Denis Mollat ​​that welcomes us in his magnificent bookshop. Thank you, Mr. Mollat, to have been able to understand from the first pitch, that supporting EDRLab was highly valuable fot the Cercle de la Librairie, which you chair. Thank you for your support, thank you for your hospitality.

I’ll turn it over to Bill McCoy, who heads the IDPF and chairs the Readium Foundation.

It’s your turn, Bill, welcome in Bordeaux, and have a nice EPUB Summit.


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