2. Will Adobe use the loosening as an excuse to try to weaken the fallbacks in the IDPF’s ePUB spec, so that the standard is inextricably wed to Adobe? The IDPF needs to show backbone against this. I’d feel much better if, instead of relying on Flash, publishers and others arranged for the open SVG format to be developed to the point of true usefulness. Publishers should worry less about the latest frills and more about the long-term durability of e-books as a serious medium. The less proprietary the technology is in e-books, the more trustworthy they will be for the long term. Right now the IDPF specs are not Adobe specs in disguise. It is important they stay that way. Vigilance, please! This is one reason why I want to see the IDPF link up with the open source movement, so that any perversion of such a valuable standard would bring howls of outrage. No, ePUB isn’t perfect. But it’s far better than the current eBabel.
3. Will book publishers resist the temptation to clutter up their wares with unnecessary animations and other, er, flash? You bet, I’m partial to old-fashioned text for novels. And serious nonfiction books should stay focused on genuine analysis or narrative, even though Flash and the like may at times be useful in summing up complex ideas—for example, through charts that can reflect numbers you plug in. Want to know what a map of the earth could look like with X amount of global warming reducing the amount of dry land? Flash-style tech could help. But let’s not just turn books into cartoons.
4. What becomes of Flash if Microsoft someday buys Adobe—a very real possibility in time, considering Microsoft’s eagerness to take over Yahoo? In the publications area, the two companies for now continue to do a mongoose-and-cobra act. One wonders if Adobe would have opened up Flash if Microsoft hadn’t opened up Silverlight‘s specs and let others build their own players. In the IDPF’s place, I would go out of my way to make ePUB as Silverlight-friendly as Flash-friendly, while betting long-term on SVG.