In what should be good news for publishers, Adobe’s ubiquitous PDF file format has been accepted as an ISO standard meaning that an international committee of experts, not Adobe, will control its future development. The move to make it an open standard should give some comfort to users who rely on it for both publishing and document archiving. And it might encourage other developers to make greater use of it, many of whom would also see Adobe as a competitor. The requirement that new features and development get signed off by a relatively public ISO technical committee rather than to suit the agenda of Adobe will give them comfort.
PDF remains a very useful format for ebooks. Apart from its easy access by most PC users, it’s still one of the best systems for publication of more complex documents. Black and white books with mostly text are relatively simple creatures to create electronically. Higher end books, like magazines, are more complex and as books move increasingly to electronic formats, the expectations of users are likely to rise too.
One of the early pioneers to help magazine publishers create electronic editions – including the all-important ads – is Zinio whose technology is PDF based though with a number of extensions. While its early focus has been on magazines and newspapers, Zinio might be one for book publishers to keep an eye on. It recently released its reader for the Apple iPhone and iPod iTouch and has been selected as an official development partner by Apple. And Barnes and Noble partnered with Zinio to provide the new “See Inside” digital book preview for its online store.