Publishing Talks: David Wilk interviews Liza Daly

In this series of interviews, called Publishing Talks, I have been talking to book industry professionals and other smart people about the future of publishing, books, and culture.  This is a period of disruption and change for all media businesses.  We must wonder now, how will publishing evolve as our culture is affected by technology, climate change, population density, and the ebb and flow of civilization and  economics?

I hope these Publishing Talks conversations will help us understand the outlines of what is happening, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future of publishing as it unfolds.

These interviews give people in and around the book business a chance to talk openly about ideas and concerns that are often only talked about “around the water cooler,” at industry conventions and events, and in emails between friends and they give people inside and outside the book industry a chance to hear first hand some of the most interesting and challenging thoughts, ideas and concepts being discussed by people in the book business.

Liza Daly and her partner Keith Fahlgren work together as ThreePress Consulting, providing “expert consulting services and software engineering in digital publishing.”  Liza’s name comes up constantly in discussions about ebooks and the emerging technology of publishing.  Recently I’ve become interested in how HTML5 operates, as this new standard appears to have a great deal of potential use for handling online display and consumption of digital publishing in a web browser environment and elsewhere.  Liza created Bookworm as a free platform for reading ePub format ebooks online and now with Keith, she has developed Ibis Reader, which enables reading ebooks on computers and devices without having to download ebook files or even understand how ebook files and devices work (and Ibis is written in HTML5).

In addition Liza and Keith are active in the open source technology community and are strong advocates for experimentation, agile development, and innovation in publishing. In April of 2010, Liza was elected to the IDPF Board of Directors. Both Keith and Liza are members of various IDPF EPUB Working Groups, including the EPUB 3.0 Working Group. Liza was a member of the advisory board for the Web 2.0 Expo NYC conference in 2008 and 2009, and was also on the board for O’Reilly’s digital publishing conference, Tools of Change 2009-2011.

I wanted to talk to Liza to better understand the emerging landscape of ebooks and e-reading as she sees it from her perspective.  She is so deeply involved in new technologies and also has a terrific understanding of use and useability, which of course are critical for the future of digital publishing.  I’ve used Ibis Reader now and it works really well.  What comes next will be very interesting to see and hopefully this talk with Liza will be useful to listeners who are interested, as I am, in how new technologies will create opportunities for publishers, writers and readers in the near future.  It’s critical that we understand how we interact with new software, how its use affects our comprehension of information and ideas, and how we can in turn influence the emerging future we are about to inhabit.  Since Liza is one of the proverbial “smartest people in the room” I can’t think of anyone better from which to learn.

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