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George KerscherKelley Allen of Random House and Elizabeth Mackey of Motricity/ereader.com have won seats on the board of the International Digital Publishing Forum. Hearty congratulations to the winners, of course.

Alas, however, reformer Mark Carey, who wants the IDPF to spin off e-book standards and focus on other activities instead such as marketing efforts, lost the just-completed election involving two of seven seats. So did existing board member George Kerscher (photo), an advocate for the disabled and himself blind. He had been IDPF’s chair. Mark and George were allies, and each urged supporters to vote for both–to advance the cause of friendly e-book standards for the blind and other print-impaired people.

I’d love to see IDPF surprise us and let standards development happen under the umbrella of a mainstream standards group such as OASIS. Hello, Kelley and Elizabeth? Any chance of your advocating that? Unfortunately, IDPF isn’t in the standards mainstream right now. The current IDPF standards effort is in effect run by Adobe and ETI, both of which will be looking out for their interests rather than those of the publishers–and perhaps not Motricity’s interests, either. Meanwhile consumers can expect lots and lots of DRM gotchas or other lock-ins in the end.

This could interfere with not just with ordinary consumers’ use of e-books but also with accessibility for the disabled–an issue very dear to me, since my blind friend David Faucheux can’t use his synthesizer with proprietary e-books “protected” with proprietary DRM. Not surprisingly, George Kerscher himself wrote in a campaign statement: “As an end user, the last thing I want is to have ten different reading systems to read my digital books. I want to pick from the best user interfaces that provide the best reading experience. I don’t believe we will have this option until we have interoperable DRM.”

Yes, I’m also interested in procedural matters involving the IDPF itself. Will it release the number of votes/points that each candidate received? It would be interesting to see if Mark and George lost just narrowly–which would serve as an indicator that IDPF needs to be more open minded. If, on the other hand, neither came even close, that would signify that advocates of change within the underperforming e-book industry should look elsewhere.

Meanwhile here is the official e-mail announcing the election results:

From: Nick Bogaty [address deleted to spare Nick from spam]
Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2006 8:02 AM
To: members@openebook.org
Subject: IDPF Board of Director Election Results

Dear IDPF Members,

Voting closed to fill two open IDPF Board of Director positions on 2400 EST, Friday, May 26th. Eligibility for voting required that members be in good standing, defined as being up-to-date on member dues. There were 76 members eligible for voting and an established quorum of 38 members. 44 members voted. The vote used the Alternative Voting procedure to choose from a sub-set of alternatives. There were six candidates for the two positions. Each “approved” or FOR choice received one point; the choices with the most points won.

The following candidates were elected to the IDPF Board of Directors:

Kelley Allen, Random House
Elizabeth Mackey, Motricity/ereader.com

I would like to thank and congratulate all of the nominees in this election. I would also like to thank, in particular, George Kerscher of the DAISY Consortium and Keith Titan of Random House for their dedication and service on the IDPF Board of Directors.

Thank you for your participation.

Best,

Nick


Nick Bogaty
Executive Director
International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF)
[Contact info deleted]

 
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