Update: There are now 400+ shiny DRM-free EPUB books from O’Reilly if you want to give Bookworm a test drive. Much of what’s on our complete list with a green “E” next to it is available in EPUB and is Bookworm-friendly (the rest is just PDF for now, but you’ll get the EPUB as a free update when it’s available). (And get an extra 20% off through Feb. 20 with code EBKDSC, which is 40% off the print price.) More about our ebook bundles (free lifetime updates! No DRM! Kindle-compatible!) over here.
Regular readers know we’re big fans of the Bookworm online EPUB reader. With Bookworm, you upload and organize your ebooks, and can read them online as well as a variety of mobile devices (iPhone shown below). It’s open source, and built on top of well-documented and supported frameworks and standards:
You can even pick up where you left off reading as you move across devices.
As more content becomes available in EPUB format, tools like Bookworm encourage standards compliance (by rejecting invalid EPUB), and offer an alternative to proprietary ebook management reading/management systems like Digital Editions or Sony’s eBook Library Software. (There’s also Calibre, an open-source desktop ebook management system, which like Bookworm is built with Python.)
We liked Bookworm so much that we invited principal developer (and TOC speaker) Liza Daly to bring it into O’Reilly Labs, the R&D space that we’re re-launching at this year’s TOC Conference. From her post on the Labs blog:
From the beginning, O’Reilly has been an enthusiastic supporter of the project. Uniting the two under the Labs banner is a natural fit.
What does this mean for Bookworm’s future?
Most importantly, core Bookworm code will remain open-source. If you would like to use Bookworm code, even commercially, you’re encouraged to do so.
As part of the Labs project, we may add some features that won’t be part of the core open-source package. Most other changes will be free and BSD-licensed. We’re just beginning to think about where we can take this project.
I’ll remain as the primary developer of Bookworm, but I hope that the added exposure O’Reilly brings to the project will encourage wider participation, not just of code but of ideas. I’m looking forward to taking ebook innovation to new places in 2009.
In addition to Bookworm, we’ve also opened up an RDF-based view of the public metadata for our books. Nearly all of this data was already available in a scattershot way from our catalog pages, the book’s copyright page, Safari Books Online, and other sources — our new “O’Reilly Product Metadata Interface” brings it all together in a standard, computer-friendly format.
This is just the beginning of a variety of experiments and pilot projects we have planned for the months ahead.