It’s not often you see two seemingly-unrelated digital technology consortiums come together like chocolate and peanut butter in a Reese’s cup, but that seems to be what’s in store for the IDPF—the organization responsible for the EPUB standard—and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Publishers Weekly reports that leadership of the two groups are discussing the possibility of unifying the organizations to allow the IDPF to continue developing EPUB and improving web publishing in general as a division of the W3C.
In some ways, it seems like a natural fit for the groups to combine. EPUB is largely based on HTML, after all, and having the development of both standards under one roof could lead to a synergy that’s better for both. We’ve already seen the W3C’s CEO suggest , at an IDPF conference in 2013, that e-books and the open web would probably merge sooner or later. It makes sense that the two groups should themselves merge to make that possible.
One thing that interests me is how the two organizations will hash out their differences over digital rights management. We’ve already seen the IDPF propose a more permissive “lightweight” DRM standard for EPUB that would permit a broader variety of consumer uses for e-books. Meanwhile, the W3C wants to add built-in DRM to the HTML standard where none existed before, to the consternation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
It should be interesting to see what comes of this, and whether the nature of e-books and the web will indeed change as a result. Will e-books become even more like web pages, or vice versa? We’ll just have to wait and see.