Face to Face
Recently, PrintMedia caught up with Edward McCoyd, director of digital policy for the Association of American Publishers. He discussed the ins and outs of e-books and how they impact the evolving marketplace for a variety of publishers.
PME: How would you compare the hype for e-books with what they may realistically deliver to publishers and consumers?
Edward McCoyd: E-books present all kinds of possibilities for publishers and readers. We need industry standards so that e-books will be easier to produce, market and use. Compact discs are easy to sell, and companies can be confident in producing them because the consumer knows she'll be able to use the same disc on her home stereo, her personal stereo and her car stereo. We need similar interoperability for e-books, with the added element of encryption protection.
PME: What will it take for most traditional publishers to invest in e-books? When do you anticipate this happening?
EM: Publishers want to know that copyright in the works they publish will be protected. Without sufficient technical and legal protections, digital copies of works are subject to unauthorized copying on a mass scale. AAP has been extremely supportive of the Justice Department's prosecution of Dmitry Sklyarov and ElcomSoft for producing and selling a program to hack through Adobe's e-book DRM protection. Without copyright protection, publishers could not pay their authors. Fewer quality works would be produced and readers would lose out. Many publishers are investing in e-books now, but I think you'll see a gradual growth in the number of available titles over the next several years. With Washington actively enforcing the DMCA, publishers have a stronger incentive to put their content into e-book formats. The Open eBook Forum (OeBF), a large standards body and trade association for the e-book industry, houses a working group dedicated to producing standards for the interoperability of DRM systems. Finally, hardware, software and presentation will constantly improve to make e-books more attractive options.