EPUB3 Books & eReaders

Even though the specification for EPUB v3.0 was finalised last October, we’ve yet to see any production ready EPUB3 books out in the wild. The likely reason for this is that EPUB3 compatible eReaders have only come on the scene recently and without an eReader, there’s no way to test how the ebooks look – a bit of a catch-22.

Version 3.0 ebooks may seem non-existent at the moment but this will no doubt change before the end of the year, so now is a really good time to look at how we’re going to transform our Masters to EPUB3 – you do have your books in a master format right?

This last week I decided to convert one of the titles from epubBooks.com to EPUB3 and set to work on Gulliver’s Travels (download link below). I’ve only found two ways to view my newly generated EPUB3 ebook; Azardi and iBooks.

(Note: this test ebook is a very simple conversion from EPUB2 and doesn’t use any HTML5 or CSS3 specific features – consider this article as just a cursory overview.)

Azardi eReader

A short while back Infogrid Pacific updated their desktop eReader app to support EPUB3. At the time it didn’t mean too much because there weren’t any ebooks around. Now that I’ve got something to try I uploaded it and have to say, everything looks good. The Table of Contents works as required and all the content displays well.

Azardi is available on the main OS platforms; Windows, Linux and Mac. Try it.


It seems Apple’s newest version if iBooks has some support for EPUB3. Like with Azardi, the TOC displays as expected along with all the content in the same way as the EPUB2 version. One nice feature in iBooks is how it handles footnotes; these are pulled from their place at the end of the chapter and displayed as a pop-up – perhaps the most useful way to view footnotes in an ebook.

iBooks is available on all iOS platforms.

Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) – Preview 1.8

Although ADE 1.8 Preview opens my EPUB3 ebook, it doesn’t work so well. The TOC is not available at all and footnote links don’t work. They do at least show at the end of the chapter.
The ADE engine is used in all the popular E-Ink eReaders, so let’s hope Adobe introduce full EPUB3 support before the final 1.8 version is released.

Gulliver’s Travels: EPUB3 eBook Experiment

As I’m expecting compatible eReaders to become more abundant over the next months I wanted to look at what’s needed to create a good solid looking EPUB3 book as I’d like to release all the free ebooks on epubBooks.com in the EPUB3 format. The book I chose for this experiment is Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (UPDATE: EPUB3 version here).

This is only a first-try and most of what I’ve worked on is the mark-up to make it a valid EPUB3 document. This means that all the CSS remains unchanged and mostly only the head section of the HTML has been updated. This first test is not EPUB2 Reader compatible, so there is certainly more I can do to make it work better on ADE and other v2 eReaders.

New EPUB3 version here

Anyway, I hope you find it useful and please do post your feedback in the comments.

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One thought on “EPUB3 Books & eReaders”

  1. I wrote an ePub reader called Alice. I tried your Gulliver’s travels ePub and it renders just fine. (If I remember correctly I implemented the ePub code using the EPUB3 spec. Some older ePubs render a bit funky because they don’t follow the spec.) Alice only renders non-DRM eBooks.

    It’s a Mac OSX only reader and available [in the app store].

    You can learn more about Alice and why I wrote it here: http://bald-mountain.blogspot.com/2011/08/alice.html and here: http://bald-mountain.blogspot.com/2011/06/ibooks-and-ereaders.html

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