Category Archives: ebook

Study Published: the system architecture of the digital public library

26 march 2014

The reports of  the study on the current and future system architecture of the  digital library have been recently published.

The term “digital library” is here used as a collective name for all of a library’s products, processes and services that are digital and/or automated.

The study summary lists the future work zones for the  Flemish Public libraries:

  1. Business intelligence (BI)
  2. IT maturity
  3. Web presentation
  4. Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  5. Digital Collections
  6. Collection Management and cataloguing
  7. Architecture consolidation (SOA)

The summary is available in French, Dutch and English:

The complete study has three main chapters :

  • Current system architecture of Flemish public libraries (AS-IS)
  • Evolution of the Flemish public libraries’ System architecture (change requirements)
  • The Future system architecture of Flemish public libraries (TO-BE)

The future system architecture is in fact a generic future-proof ICT blueprint for a public library. The blueprint is a set of business services, business processes, Applications, SOA Services and technological elements documented in the Archimate notation.

Business Services Overview

The complete study is available

I would like to thank the colleagues who worked with me on this study:

  • François Vermaut (IT Strategy, BPM, SOA, ITIL…)
  • Rosemie Callewaert (Public Library field expertise, User Experience, BIBFRAME, FRBR…)
  • Simon Kroeger (Proof reading english text)
  • Veerle Vanlooy (Vertalingen Vanlooy)

I also would like to thank the steering commitee (Bart Beuten, Jan BraekmanPatrick Vanhoucke ,Stefaan Froyman), all the workshop and participants. Their input has been key. I would like also to thank Alexandre Lemaire who helped me to compare the Flemish situation with the situation of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles.…

Publishing books as Android/iOS applications is a new trend?

This question was posted on the Tools of Change for Publishing group on LinkedIn. Here is my answer:

The real trend is not apps. The real trend is the willingness to offer “interactive ebooks”. Or rather an interactive reading experience that contains multimedia, quizz, calculation, enhanced navigation, text to speech synchronization, games…

To offer that experience you have many options, for example :

make a website (better if you have huge contents, you can stream the content on demand)

make an ebook in PDF, ePub, Kindle. Even if the IDPF does his maximum, there are many challenges to achieve compatibility. On the other hand, you have the advantage of not locking your users in.

make an app and deliver your content via an application store. The advantages are that the programming environment is very rich and “under control”, you can have quiet large applications (popular games can be 1GB), many users have the compatible devices (smartphones, tablets). The disadvantages is that you lock your customers into the app and that the application store will ask you 30% of the final price, making it harder to make money.…

“Systeemarchitectuur Digitale Bibliotheek” Study for Bibnet (DIGB-SA)

Update 26 march 2014:  the study reports have been published.

In february 2013, we are starting a study on the future system architecture for digital libraries in Belgium/Flanders, orchestrated by Bibnet.

You can find the description of the sudy on their website : Een systeemarchitectuur voor de Digitale Bibliotheek.

We will mostly cover the development and the management of the libraries’ applications landscape and analyse how to balance the centralization and decentralization of the libraries underlying ICT systems.

But we will also spend some time thinking about some Business elements of the entreprise Architecture : which business processes will be impacted, which new business processes will emerge, which new roles will emerge, which new business collaborations…

Among the new business processes : the lending of eBooks or other digital material, the use of social networks to fullfil the library’s missions, the integration of the library systems with the other e-Gov systems (Culture, Regions, Provinces, Cities)…

I intend to use business and ICT capability maps to structure the the complexity of the libraries’ business.

But I will not work alone ! For this mission I can count on the collaboration of Rosemie Callewart ( and Ingensol (

If you know any good source for a library business map (organization, services, capabilities), let me know ! I can use it ! Otherwise we could publish such a library capability map end of 2013 after our study is finished (and if our customer agrees).

Project code : DIGB-SA…

eBooks trends in 2012 and 2013

I have been involved in 2 eBook projects last year (2012). It allowed me to observe the evolution of some publishers, libraries and bookstores towards eBooks. Here are some trends I have identified.

2012: The eBook technology has been understood

Making an eBook, lending an eBook, streaming, ePub, eReaders, iPad, Amazon… In general, people start to feel ok with it. 

2012 : Traditional actors still prefer to stay away from the eBook technology

However if the concept of an eBook is now clear (at least for “Textual” and “APPS” ebooks), the actors tend to prefer to stay away from its technology. It is not a bad idea, but it doesn’t help staying in the eBook game.

There are a lot of discussions within associations to join forces to build or rejoin eBook platforms as a group. There is a feeling that eBook technology will quickly become commodity while remaining complex. Most of the actors want to stay away of the eBook technology by outsourcing it to IT actors.  But there are problems with this approach 1) How to differentiate ? 2) How to maintain the customer relationship ? 3) How to keep margins ?

2013: Looking for a business model , contents and… contracts

Now that one understands what is an eBook and how to sell or lend it, now come questions that should have been answered in the first place : What is the business model ? What do I sell ? How can I get a contract to lend or sell eBooks ? How will I convince a publisher to give me the right to sell or lend his eBooks ? What does the law say about doing business with eBooks ?

On the publisher side, the questions are different : who can I trust ? where can I send my eBooks and be sure they won’t be pirated ?

Due to the cost of an eBook platform (owned or outsourced) and the size of the Belgian eBook market, building a solid business model remains complex. The eBook “chicken and egg” (“demand needs offer and offer needs demand”) circle still needs to be broken in Belgium.

2013: Meet the customer

Let’s assume one manages to get a platform up and running and have all the re-selling and lending contracts signed with publishers (representing authors). The next question will be “where are the readers ?” and “what do they want to read ?”. We will finally come to the question : what is an eBook, after all ?

2013: What is an eBook ?

People read less and less. Or do they read differently ? What would be the ideal size and price of an eBook ? Why do people read ? When do people prefer digital over Paper ? eBooks will have to find their niches.

So the top eBook activities for 2013 should be :

  • Identify eBook readers segments
  • For targeted segments, take commercial positions in the eBook value chain. Sign contracts, obtain rights to re-sell or lend. For publishers get the sales channels established. Negotiate the content.
  • Make sure to make or propose the right eBooks for the right customer segments

None of those activities are technical. This is why I recommended to the Fédération Wallonie Bruxelles (FWB), at the end of my technical eBook study to first spend money on a “Mediator”/”Negotiator” for the Public Libraries and labeled Bookstores. One needs first to identify who is open to do eBook business before assembling or finalizing the eBook platform.

Link with Entreprise Architecture

This blog is about Entreprise Architecture (EA), so what is the link with EA ? As an IT Architect you can do your best in the Applications and Technology layers, but without a clear Business Layer (Business Service, Business Processes, Business Roles), it is difficult to build something that will resist change. The only option I have is to make eBook platforms based on a modular Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). You can’t optimize an IT platform if you don’t know what the Business will do with it. We will soon assemble our eBook platforms and we will by than need to have answered the following question : what is our eBook business after all ?…

Interesting article for the future of bookstores : co-opetition in the ebook market

“The lesson from co-opetition is that when barriers come down and markets open up, your best strategy might be to work with competitors in ways that make your customers’ lives easier.”

Publishing News: Tech industry history could inform bookstores’ road to recovery – Tools of Change for Publishing

Presentation of the VEP-IA Modules at the Boekenbeurs 2012

During the “day of the book sector” (“Dag van de boekenvak”), the 3 innovative modules of the VEP (Vlaams eBoek Platfrom) will be explained at the Boekenbeurs 2012.

“Presentatie drie projecten Innovatief Aanbesteden
In het kader van het Innovatief Aanbesteden heeft IWT 3 projecten geselecteerd en gesubsidieerd die interessant zijn voor de boekensector. In deze workshop presenteren we deze drie projecten”


Those modules have been briefly presented earlier this  year by Johan Delauré at the eReading Event in Gent. You can find the slides here :

In this project, my role is to design the integration of the 3 IA modules with the common e-book repository.…

Slides of the Vep Information Session on Dec 1st 2011

This Dec 1st, 2011, there was an information session about the VeP (Vlaams eBoek Platform = Flemish eBook Platform) for the call to tenders for innovation.

During the session Johan Delauré of Bibnet presented a nice overview and summary the VeP.

See the slides here :

Demo available : 30+ Ways to use an eReader

I just developed a small demo with my ePaper Reader. I collected more than 30 use cases to give an idea on all the things you can do with an ePaper device.

If you want to know more about the demo (see the slides, have a conversation with me or meet in person) use the following Information Request Form.

I don’t publish directly the demo because my goal is to make new friends interested in ePaper and progressively build a network of ePaper enthusiasts. See

I will react accordingly and I hope you will enjoy it.

Demo Information Request form links: