February 19, 2009

New Adobe PDF and .epub SDK gains vendors support

A Yahoo article picks up on this technology announcement from Adobe of a new PDF and .EPUB software SDK release and agreements in the mobile and eBook reader space:
"In support of the new Adobe Reader Mobile SDK, a number of companies announced plans to ship devices or applications in 2009 that integrate the new Adobe technology, including Bookeen, iRex Technologies, Lexcycle, Plastic Logic, Polymer Vision Ltd., and Spring Design. The Adobe Reader Mobile engine is already integrated into the groundbreaking Reader Digital Book™ by Sony."
SONY are amount the vendors announcing support for it (the Sony Reader was one of the first eBook reader devices to support PDF with software from Adobe, not other sources):
“With support for reflowable PDF and the new EPUB format, we are able to deliver richer reading experiences to digital book lovers,” said Steve Haber, president, Digital Reading Business Division, Sony Electronics. “The Reader ships with support for Adobe Reader Mobile SDK today and allows consumers to acquire eBooks from a variety of sources, including public libraries. Our goal is to foster an open content environment that enables our customers to maximize the use and enjoyment of their Readers.”
iRex and Adobe have also made a subsequent announcement.There is an Adobe Press Release and iRex also publish on their i-to-i blog :

"iRex has reached an agreement with Adobe to license new PDF technology and EPUB file format plus Adobe’s content protection technology for the iRex Digital Reader 1000 series.

Enabling the iRex DR1000 to offer reflowable PDF technology, allowing text to adopt automatically to the screen size, thereby preserving layout integrity and enhancing the reading experience. In addition it will also support the EPUB file format, an XML based eBook standard which already has broad support from the publishing industry and is expected to accelerate the availability of eBook content.

Both the PDF and EPUB support will become available through a software release scheduled in quarter 2 2009, more details will follow later."

We may see it ship in READIUS, whenever that ships!! Via Lexcycle (maker of Stanza reader software) you may also see it creep into iPhone versions of their reading application?

The theory of re-flowable PDF is fine, but the practise is somewhat more complex and less hopeful. There are not many good tools to create re-flowable PDF and not many reflowable PDFs have been or are being generated. The majority of PDF files that you may find out there or can generate yourself will probably NOT be reflowable.

If we have to rely on publishers of professional content to generate re-flowable articles and books then it maybe better for them to just publish directly in .Epub format?

One advantage of publishing in PDF is that you have a LOT of desktop computers with PDF reading software already installed - something which won't happen overnight for .Epub formats. So, if its useful to read across eBook reader and PC/Mac platforms then PDF maybe a good way to go, and maybe more so for internal Enterprise documents that published material.

Reflowable PDF may be a good compromise for certain types of professionally published materials, like Newspapers and Magazines. If you have a large screen or PC then viewing the entire page or spread in the original layout is advantageous, but then to zoom in and read a specific article, or to read on a small screen (mobile) device, the re-flowing ability will make that more comfortable and reduce the need to zoom and pan constantly across a page or column as it can be adapted to the current screen/view.