So eBooks are the Next Big Thing, and soon we’ll all be reading eBooks exclusively. How, though, will we find new eBooks? It’s not like there’s a unified standard for organizing and displaying catalogs of eBooks available for purchase on any device capable of displaying an eBook. If only someone would create such a standard! If I did it, I would call it “Open Publication Distribution System” and I would base it on the Atom syndication format.
Wait, what’s this? Hooray! Someone took the initiative and has saved me from spearheading this project. Thank the maker! Adobe and Lexcycle are working together to create an honest-to-goodness open standard for distributing eBooks. It’s based on Atom, which everyone knows is vastly superior to the morass of incompatible RSS formats.
One way to think about this standard is as a kind of ‘OPML for eBooks’ – only instead of RSS feeds, OPDS features a catalog of eBooks, including optional links to book covers and short summaries. Instead of making users jump through all kinds of hoops, eBook applications could simply allow users to ‘subscribe’ to and search through these catalogs from within the application – and users could then download them right to their eBook readers without having to go to a browser or another application first.
It remains to be seen how quickly — or whether at all — the manufacturers of eBook readers (hardware and software) adopt this draft standard. Do you think Amazon would support this in addition to their Kindle Store? As a consumer I support open standards 100%, and would prefer to give my dollars to organizations that support them. But I recognize that content and hardware producers prefer the “walled garden” approach in order to keep their users — and their users’ dollars — locked into their proprietary systems. Exciting times are surely ahead!