Candidate Statement - Gerrit Imsieke

Nomination for IDPF Board of Directors, November 2011 election

Gerrit Imsieke – le-tex publishing services

I am nominating myself for the November, 2011, IDPF Board of Directors elections.

Professional Background

le-tex publishing services

Gerrit Imsieke is managing director of the German company le-tex publishing services GmbH. le-tex employs approx. 70 people and provides premedia and consultancy services mainly to German-speaking publishers. Customers include Springer, DIN, Suhrkamp, Cornelsen, Piper and the German subsidiaries of Wiley and Pearson. le-tex has been producing more than 1000 EPUBs since 2008 in diverse subject areas, from STM to fiction. le-tex is IDPF member since August, 2010.

Gerrit Imsieke

Gerrit Imsieke holds a German diploma (M.Sc.) in physics. He co-founded a predecessor to le-tex publishing services in 1996. Between 1999 and 2005, he was active as a technology VC fund manager at the German investment bank equinet AG, which focuses on small and mid caps. In 2005, he joined the portfolio company Mobotix AG before joining le-tex again in 2006. At le-tex, Gerrit’s main responsibilities are XML technologies and professional services.


I’m running for the Board position because of three primary reasons:

  • Representing market participants in the German-speaking markets within the IDPF;
  • Advocating use of IDPF standards among publishers and other organizations, mainly in German-speaking markets;
  • Participating in further development of EPUB and related standards, with a special focus on application-/domain-specific vocabularies and canonical rendering thereof (including interactive applications)

Representing market participants in the German-speaking markets within the IDPF

Approx. 40 publishing companies in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are among our customers. In addition, we work for standardization bodies (DIN, VDE) and academic institutions (universities, Fraunhofer and Max Planck Institutes), and we co-operate with many local competitors and distributors when it comes to agreeing on common standards.

We see a large spectrum of technical requirements of these market participants: displaying large tables on different devices, audio overlay in fixed-layout e-books, utilizing non-European scripts and text directions, single-source production of printed and digital content, creating Kindle-compatible EPUBs, …. We are willing to collect these requirements and make sure that they will be considered when developing EPUB and related specifications within the IDPF.

Advocating use of IDPF standards in German-speaking markets

Compared to English-speaking markets, the German-speaking e-book market is underdeveloped. Another difference is that Amazon is not dominating it. PDF and EPUB are still more popular than Amazon’s formats. We at le-tex will continue to advocate EPUB as the primary format for digital products. We are currently developing an open-source epubcheck extension that will allow for distinct checking profiles, such as for checking Apple Fixed Layout, AZW, or KF8 compatibility, including CSS and font support. We have recently started to advocate EPUB Content Documents 3.0 (with the EPUB 3 Structural Semantics Vocabulary and custom Schematron restrictions) as the primary format for some of our customers’ content repositories and XML workflows. We are in talks with a major German university press about making “Content Documents + Structural Semantics Vocabulary, restricted by Schematron, checked after upload” their primary acceptance format instead of LaTeX and Word, making EPUB content format the primary source of printed dissertations instead of converting printed books to EPUB. We are committed to making this shift in our markets. Being an IDPF director will add extra credibility to my pro-EPUB stance.

Participating in further development of EPUB and related standards

An area that particularly interests me: How to extend EPUB with application- or domain-specific declarative markup (more specific: additional semantic vocabularies) and enable special renderings (including interactivity) without requiring every publication to contain custom program code. My vision is that the IDPF will:

  • endorse existing or newly developed vocabularies for quizzes, chess game recordings, recipes, etc.
  • describe default rendering expectations for non-scriptable reading systems;
  • provide a repository (à la CPAN) for default implementations, published under a permissive open source license. Typically, these implementations will be in Javascript, but they may also be developed in other languages such as XQuery for which an implementation exists in the same repository;
  • encourage manufacturers to include the repository contents into their devices;
  • establish a third scripting state for content documents: scripted, non-scripted, and scripted by vocabulary handler. Users may then choose to only trust pre-installed vocabulary handlers even if publications bring their own enhanced handlers.

The idea behind this is that the IDPF should make it easy (no programming needed) for content authors to create special publication features such as quizzes or fill-in-the-blank texts. At the same time, the IDPF will be able to make sure that there are reasonable default renderings in the absence of scripting.

Other details around scripting, such as access to the reading system’s local storage across all parts of a publication, are further requirements for EPUB publications to become a viable alternative to mobile or Web apps for content-based applications. Which is an aim of mine, in case you didn’t notice yet.

I once published these thoughts in a blog post and Markus Gylling made an issue out of it, which was then deferred. Now that 3.0 is out, I’d like to enter into a discussion with other interested parties on how to best meet the requirements of content authors, reading system vendors, and end users.

Apart from this pet project, I’m generally supportive of advancing EPUB to the ISO standardization level, of DRM interoperability improvements (the latter may include doing without DRM, but this is a step that most publishers are not ready to take), and of standardizing digital rights information sets for the publishing production process.

More Information

Corporate Website

Contact Information




Secondary menu