OpenReader announcement: Open-standards eBook Format and Reading System Development Discussion Groups

[We intend the OpenReader format to support MathML.]

Quick Summary (including how to subscribe):

You are invited to subscribe and participate in one or both of the
following discussion groups (hosted at YahooGroups) supporting the
ongoing activities of the OpenReader Consortium:

   1) "openreader-format": OpenReader Format Specification (an
      open-standards ebook and digital publication/document
      distribution format), and

   2) "openreader-devel": Development of an open-source, license-free,
      multi-platform reference implementation of an OpenReader reading
      system ("user agent").

(Both projects will be summarized in the next section. For more
detailed information, refer to .)

If you have a supportive interest in either topic, we invite you to
subscribe to the group of interest. (Those who subscribe to the "user
agent development" group are strongly urged to also subscribe to the
Format group.)

By joining either of these groups, there is no implied commitment to
become an active participant in either of the associated Working
Groups, although we certainly hope you will. We welcome your thoughts
and insights, even if you choose not to actively participate in formal
Working Group activities.

The home pages to the two groups are found at:

There is a link to subscribe to each group at the group's home page.
Or, you can subscribe to either using the following email addresses:

If you prefer not to go through the process of subscribing yourself to
either group, I'll be more than happy to subscribe you. Just email me
( or your request to join -- be
sure to specify which group(s) -- along with the email address you
want to use to receive group messages.

More Detailed Information about OpenReader:

As noted in the prior section, the best online resource explaining
OpenReader is the current OpenReader web site (planned to soon undergo
a much-needed major update and upgrade):

OpenReader is a cooperative project to create an open, standards-based
digital publication distribution format to facilitate current,
continuing, and long-term access to ebooks and other types of digital
publications and documents.

The OpenReader distribution format will be based on well-established
XML vocabularies, publication frameworks, and W3C technologies. This
includes OEBPS (the Open eBook Publication Structure framework),
XHTML, CSS, MathML, SVG and XLink, to name the more important ones.
Our current plans also include eventual native support for TEI,
NewsML, and possibly other advanced and specialized document markup
vocabularies and publication frameworks.

The OpenReader Consortium will also support the development of
reference implementations of programs to render OpenReader-compliant
documents on a number of devices, and to convert OpenReader-compliant
documents to other publication formats, such as PDF/A.

There is a clear need for such a distribution format, given the
present anarchy of multiple, incompatible, inflexible, and proprietary
publication formats which do not provide the reading experience
consumers want and publishers strive for. David Rothman, in his
TeleRead blog covering the ebook, digital library, and related
industries (, aptly describes this
situation as the "Tower of eBabel".

While the initial focus of the OpenReader Consortium is primarily on
ebooks, we intend to make the distribution format flexible enough to
be applicable to a wide variety of digital publications and documents,
such as periodicals, newspapers, document collections, white papers,
many types of business documents, etc. We even envision the OpenReader
format to be quite useful for encapsulating and archiving standards-
conformant Web sites.

When the HTML format and HTTP protocol were developed more than a
decade ago, NCSA developed a "web browser", Mosaic, to support the
format and protocol. The success of the World Wide Web was due as much
to the wide-spread availability of the NCSA Mosaic browser, as it was
to the openness and availability of the HTML and HTTP specifications.

Similarly, we believe that it is important to develop, in conjunction
with the OpenReader Format, a cross-platform, open-source,
license-free reference implementation of an OpenReader rendering
program, which will make the OpenReader Format Specification truly
useful, to establish uniform rendering behavior, and to spur others
to build their own conforming OpenReader user agents.


We look forward to your joining either or both groups, even if to
lurk. If you know of others who may be interested in OpenReader, feel
free to forward this announcement to them. We are also building a
Consortium of interested companies and organizations in the digital
publication and document universe who see the open-standards
OpenReader as furthering their business and institutional
objectives. Of course, we are looking for dedicated individuals, who
agree with the OpenReader philosophy, to become leaders and help to
make OpenReader a success.


Jon Noring
OpenReader Consortium

Received on Wednesday, 4 May 2005 22:46:00 UTC