After seven months of contentious debate over the merger, the International Digital Publishing Forum, developer of the EPUB e-book format standard, and the W3C, the internet standards organization founded by Tim Berners-Lee, have officially combined organizations.
IDPF president George Kerscher, said that the merger of the two organizations will ensure that EPUB will remain a standard relevant to the future of the global online and print community. “By combining our organizations, we not only align our technology roadmaps, but also accelerate the adoption of content that is natively accessible and device-friendly for all types of publishing, whether you are reading on the Web or offline."
Under the merger, the IDPF will be absorbed into the W3C. IDPF members voted overwhelmingly (88% in favor) in support of the merger in November 2016. In addition the IDPF said that “an unprecedented number” of IDPF members who contributed to the development of the EPUB standard have relinquished any rights they have in the standard to ensure that EPUB is an open and royalty free standard. The approval for the merger came despite vigorous objections by Steve Potash, OverDrive CEO and founder of the Open E-Book Forum, the predecessor organization to the IDPF.
Bill McCoy, former executive director of the IDPF, will join the W3C in a new managerial role to oversee the transition of former IDPF members and other publishing-related organizations into the new W3C structure. In addition, the former IDPF board of directors will join the W3C Publishing Steering Committee to oversee publishing issues and work with the publishing committee.
To address concerns about the continued development of the EPUB standard, the W3C has set up the EPUB Community Group that is free and open to anyone to participate.
The W3C has also created the W3C Publishing Business Group for former IDPF members as well as current W3C members and other interested groups. Under the newly merged structure, the Publishing Business Group will serve as forum for digital publishing issues. The new group will hold its first meeting on March 13 in the London during the London Book Fair.
The W3C has also organized a meeting to discuss the next generation EPUB requirements. The EPUB Summit will take place March 9-10 in Brussels, Belgium.
W3C CEO Dr. Jeff Jaffe, said, “W3C is thrilled to gain the expertise of the publishing industry with its rich tradition of excellence in developing many forms of content for books, magazines, journals, educational materials and scholarly publications. Working together, Publishing@W3C will bring exciting new capabilities and features to the future of publishing, authoring and reading using Web technologies."