What is EPUB and EPUB3?
An EPUB book is an electronic book, or ebook, which can be read on a wide variety of digital devices, including Tablets, Smartphones, Laptops and dedicated eReaders. It’s this wide adoption that has allowed EPUB to become the most dominant ebook format across the world.
EPUB became an official IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum) specification in October 2007, though these days it is referred to as “EPUB 2″, as it was actually the successor to the Open eBook Standard. In spring 2010 the IDPF made plans for the next iteration and in October 2011 EPUB3 became a Recommended specification.
A discussion on the technology behind the EPUB format would be a large undertaking but with the recent release of the EPUB3 Best Practices book, I have decide to defer to that. However, the opening chapter from the book provides a good description;
One of the most common misconceptions about EPUB is that it is a “flavor” of XML. (“Should I use EPUB or DocBook?” or, even worse, “Should I use EPUB or HTML5?” Hint: EPUB (pretty much) = HTML5.) Due partly to the convenient single-file format provided as .epub, people sometimes fail to realize that EPUB is not just, and not mainly, a specification for the markup of content documents. It is a publication format, and as such it specifies and documents a host of things that publications need to include—content documents, style sheets, images, media, scripts, fonts, and more, as discussed in detail in the other chapters of this book. In fact, EPUB is sometimes thought of as “a website in a box,” though it is actually much more than that. — EPUB3 Best Practices, 2013, O’Reilly.
EPUB3 is a much more involved specification than previous revisions and if you don’t enjoy wading through pages of technical specification then there are three good books available which will make the whole process much more enjoyable.
What is EPUB3?
This is a free chapter-length article (ebook only) which is a great introduction for those with no previous EPUB experience.
Synopsis: This book discusses the exciting new format that is set to unleash a content revolution in the publishing world. Laden with features the printed page could never offer–such as embedded multimedia and scripted interactivity–EPUB 3 will forever change what a book can be. This article walks you through the format and puts it in its place in the digital landscape, explaining why EPUB 3 is set to become the new global standard for ebooks as it also becomes the new accessible standard for ebooks.
EPUB3 Best Practices
Ready to take your ebooks to the next level with EPUB 3? Then I highly recommend this book.
Written by some of the people who created the EPUB3 standard itself, EPUB 3 Best Practices includes plenty of practical information to help you with all aspects of ebook creation; technology, content creation, and distribution.
Synopsis: This concise guide includes best practices and advice to help you navigate the format’s wide range of technologies and functionality. EPUB 3 is set to turn electronic publishing on its head with rich multimedia reading experiences and scripted interactivity, but this specification can be daunting to learn. This book provides you with a solid foundation.
A second free digital download. Accessible EPUB 3 has many practical tips on making your work more accessible.
Synopsis: With the introduction of EPUB 3, publishers now have the means to create a single rich data source for audiences of all reading abilities. Through practical tips and examples, Accessible EPUB 3 takes you inside the EPUB 3 format and explores how you can enrich and enhance content for all readers. Author Matt Garrish demystifies the process of making content easier to access, demonstrating how accessible practices are intertwined with standard content best practices.