Dear Jeff Bezos,
As you are already aware of the ebook industry format EPUB supports absolute positioning only in a very limited fashion: By embedding SVG, an Adobe scalable vector graphics format from year 2000.
Unfortunately many ebook device manufacturers do not at all support SVG embedded EPUBs in their ebook reader devices. Amazon’s MobiPocket/Kindle has limited support for pdf, and without Adobe’s mobile pdf for reflowing text it could continue to support absolute positioning in a limited fashion. But no safe bet for certain authors:
Absolute positioning is of the utmost importance to poets, mathematicians and (some) programmers. These will be forced away from mainstream e-publishing and into publishing by images, eg. via Comic Book ”format”.
The number of authors affected worldwide is hard to estimate, but since three whole book genres are affected in all cultures and countries publishing ebooks (poets, mathematicians and programmers) the potential economical loss by ebook reader device manufacturers due to lack of support for scalable absolute positioning could be noticable:
Yet another format would have to come into existence, and ebook reader device manufacturers and ebook producers would be forced to invest in production and support of this new format. And, if not, could lose market shares to devices that do support such new format.
The EPUB commission will give its recommendations to the industry on May 1st 2011.
I have taken it upon myself to make this suggestion to you (even if it is counter intuitive to normal, sane, business practice): That you as manufacturer of an ebook reader device, even if it uses MobiPocket/Kindle and not EPUB, before May 1st. suggest to the EPUB commission that they advice the industry as a whole to support absolute positioning in some fashion, which will facilitate e-publishing of products of the mentioned three industries. If it comes from you, others may begin to listen, and maybe we will have ebooks one day that look good. Ebooks that respect book design. Ebooks that respect author’s intentions.
If none of the industry device makers act on this, it will be years before EPUB will come up for serious revision again, and therefore years before this seemingly stable industry ebook format will support all present publishing needs – and not just invent new ones to create a new market for e-producers to invest in. And it will be even longer, before we of absolute positioning needs will be able to make ourselves heard. And maybe the idea of book design in ebook formats will be lost all together.
Of course, if Amazon creates a format with scalable absolute positioning for the Kindle, a lot of people would know for certain where to sell their books!
Speaking as a poet, and as former director of the poets at the Danish Authors Union
and with all my heart,