ePub’s presence within the industry is hotting up, which is great news for all of us who are backing the ePub format to become the standard used for eBooks.
Philip Jones, managing editor of theBookseller.com, has written an excellent article on the current problems within the industry regarding the eBook format. He also notes that during a recent speech at the Publishers Association a.g.m, Simon Juden, CEO of the Publishers Association in the UK, is calling on the industry to resolve the current problem with the lack of a standard format.
You should drop by Philips blog and read his excellent article, A question of format, where he makes a very important point regarding the lack of ePub readers. Without a good array of readers how can we expect publishers to adopt the ePub format.
The two best options so far are the IDPF doesn’t push the ePub format in a big way, they could well loose out altogether! Would having an Official ePub Logo help? – A point often discussed by David Rothman from the TeleRead Blog.
All is not lost just yet, we’ve had some encouraging news from publishers recently. Hachette Group USA have already adopted ePub and a couple of weeks back Penguin UK announced they will be releasing all their titles in the .epub format from September 2008 onwards. Let’s just hope others follow suit soon.
During the last week or so there’s been lots of discussion around the internet regarding how we write the word “epub”. There have been many good reasons for choosing one style over another but if we take the TeleRead Poll as any kind of indication then “ePub” seems to be a favourite.
Of course what we’ve all been waiting for is someone from the IDPF to make an official comment.
Earlier today Garth Conboy, who co-chaired two IDPF groups that developed the standards encapsulated under the “EPUB” term and a current board member, made an interesting post to the EPub Community regarding this subject.
Garth states that “.epub was first used as the file extension for publications contained in an OCF container” and that the “term EPUB was created to mean an OPS/OPF publication contained in an OCF container. Trading one four-letter (almost) acronym for three three-letter acronyms.”
It seems that the IDPF have taken note of the discussions going on at TeleRead and the EPub Community and although the following is not an official statement, it is great to have feedback from someone on the inside.
There was a discussion of how the standard should be capitalized this morning on the IDPF Board of Directors call — perhaps driven by the discussion on this or the Teleread list. The IDPF certainly can’t dictate how others or the industry uses “e” “p” “u” “b” in that order, but it has decided how it will use the term.
The soon-to-be-created IDPF style guide will likely use “EPUB” to mean the standard (OPS/OPF in an OCF container) and also the class of documents/publications that so conform. The file extension will, of course, remain “.epub”. This is at least somewhat analogous to HTML documents having the .html or .htm extensions (yes, I know HTML is a true acronym, and EPUB isn’t).
Great news that the IDPF are now thinking about this and who knows, perhaps we’ll seen an official ePub logo in the near future too!
Garth’s personal choice is the same as mine here at epubbooks.com; he personally likes “the look of “ePub” better, and if there were someday to be a logo that denotes EPUB compliance or validity, I’d hope we do something around the camel-caps version.”
Although this is not directly related to ePub it could have big consequences in the future. There was a post over at DigiTimes.com (thanks to mobileread.com for picking this up) on PVI’s plans to “double its capacity for electrophoretic display (EPD)”, if you’re not sure what these are then take a look at the nearest Kindle or Sony Reader screen!
There’s no ETA on when they will start production of the E-Ink/VizPlex screens but the indications are that it could be sometime this year.
Currently there’s a lot of debate around the net on the ‘apparent’ short supply of VizPlex screens, with luck this will put an end to the shortage and no doubt allow even more dedicated readers to be developed.
What does this have to do with ePub? The way I see it, if there are more machines out there in the market place we’ll likely see more support for ePub books, this will then create more pressure for publishers to produce titles in the .epub format. With luck consumers will start to demand a format that is cross-platform compatible (with or without DRM), allowing them to read not only on their dedicated Reader, PDA or smartphone, but also on their PC or MAC…helping to bring down The Tower of eBabel.
I’m currently subscribed to a number of mailing lists, though I must confess I don’t really contribute [I hang my head in shame]. As a result of being a member I received an invitation from Jon Noring to his new YahooGroup, EPub Community — I’m starting to believe he is addicted to these lists ;-)
In the invitation email he writes,
EPub Community is intended for publication creators, developers, readers, and anyone else interested in all things related to EPub and the IDPF specifications which underlie EPub (OPS/OPF/OCF).
Although the group’s focus is likely to be fairly technical, we certainly invite and encourage non-technical discussions.
To subscribe you’ll need to do one of the follow things;
- With your YahooID — click on the “Join this Group” button at the group’s homepage
- Send a blank email to email@example.com
This group is independent to the IDPF but could become a great place to discuss all things ePub.
At the moment Jon is away travelling so he has switched off the ability to make posts. He informs us that once he returns, allowing ample time for there to be a good number of subscribers, he’ll open the group for posting.
In a personal email to Jon I made a passing reference on how to write the word ePub, perhaps I’ll make my opening post on that very subject.
I’m confused! Okay, so this happens quite regular, but on this occasion I think I might have good reason.
I’ve been following this new IDPF format for some time now and I certainly have great belief in it, but it seems to me that no one knows how the word should be written. Here’s a short list of what I’ve seen so far;
- ePub (my current preferred way)
I haven’t made up my mind completely but my two favourites are ePub and EPUB. David at TeleRead has often mentioned the need for an ePub logo and I whole-heartedly agree. Let’s get the ‘look’ in peoples minds and what better way than a logo.
But is it really so important? When I think on how people talk about “mp3” I don’t have any fixed ideas in mind (nor a logo for that matter) and mp3 is huge!
Well, until someone says otherwise, I think I’ll stick with ePub.
I you have have your own thoughts on this, please do leave a comment.
UPDATE: The IDPF officially chose “EPUB” as the correct way to write about the standard.
It seems like Penguin UK will lead the way in advancing the .epub book format, reports theBookseller.com – this is great news for ePub!
Penguin UK plans to simultaneously release all their new titles in ePub along with the print edition starting in September, although the price of digital and print will be the same. Among the first releases will be the classic, The Three Musketeers by Dumas and Zoe Heller’s new novel, The Believers.
Another point noted in the article is that Penguin UK are currently working on releasing their 5,000 strong back list during this year and next — more great new for eBooks!
This article was brought to my attention via the TeleRead blog. David Rothman’s article makes some interesting points, in particular he wonders what kind of DRM will be applied – if any – and will Penguin Group USA follow suit any time soon.
I created this site because there are very few blogs, mailing lists and other resources on the ePub standard. I wanted to try and bring together the few that there are in one handy place, in the hope to make this information easily available.
I am no ePub expert myself so I’m continually searching for new information and resources to help me learn. One very useful tutorial I found was the ‘Epub Format Construction Guide’.
Not only is this guide about creating ePub documents, it also gives some nice insights into the compliance of the ADE (Adobe Digital Editions) reader, still the most conformant reader at this time. A couple of surprising things about ADE v1.0 is that it does not support certain CSS attributes. Two big surprises were;
The tutorial itself is more like an “annotated example”, if you just wish to construct an ePub document in a quick hassle free way then this will help tremendously. Once nice thing I like about the guide is that it highlights the areas which need to be altered on a per project basis.
In the future I’m hoping to find more detailed tutorials so if you need more in-depth information, you’ll just have to reference the IDPF specifications.
You can read the ‘Epub Format Construction Guide’ at www.hxa7241.org.
Digital Book 2008 is a one-day conference held in New York City on May 14th. The conference is hosted by the IDPF and is part of their spring educational series. This is considered the best opportunity of the year to network with the global publishing and online technology leaders in the digital books world.
If you wish to attend you must register, but be warned, the event has been sold out for the last five years!
At the top of the agenda will be the emerging global eBook market and adoption of the EPUB digital publication standard. Some of the highlights are;
- Publisher Experience and Workflow using the new IDPF “EPUB” Standard
- “EPUB” Update on eBook Reading Devices and Software
- Using Digital Book Technologies to Drive Sales and Create New Consumer Experiences
- eBooks in Education and Accessibility Initiatives
There are going to be some fantastic speakers including;
- Michael Smith (IDPF)
- Bill McCoy (Adobe Systems Incorporated)
- Peter Balis (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.)
- Garth Conboy (eBook Technologies, Inc.)
- Leslie Hulse (HarperCollins Publishers)
- Neil DeYoung (Hachette Book Group USA)
- Willem Endhoven (iRex Technologies BV)
- Martin Görner (Mobipocket.com)
— I wish I could attend myself!