At Digital Book World, which wrapped up last week, the big question was whether HTML5 or EPUB3 will be the digital publishing format of choice, according to GoodeReader. EPUB 3 was developed by the IDPF as an open format for multi-media digital books. In effect, ePub-3 is a zip file you can download to your tablet or dedicated e-reader.
In the last few weeks, both Kobo and Barnes and Noble announced that sometime in 2013 they will begin to offer full support for the EPUB 3 standard. Most recently, Hachette announced that by March 2013 all of its new books would be in EPUB 3 format.
Samsung’s Readers Hub 2.0 now supports EPUB3. It is compatible with ePub2, ePub 3, PDF, and HTML 5. An Israeli book production firm, Helicon Books, also announced the first Android e-reading app that fully supports EPUB3, for $4.99.
That means a larger number of ebooks will soon have multimedia elements, with audio, video, narration, and interactive features, and a great variety of tablets and phones will be able to read them, not just Apple, Amazon or B&N tablets.
Right now, few online readers can support it. Apple currently has the closest support for EPUB3 via iBooks, but it’s a proprietary version. But whether publishers will produce content in EPUB3, is the big question. Apple has a proprietary version as does Amazon. Currently the only major publisher to announce a commitment to this new ebook standard is Hachette.
Currently, if publishers distribute their content in EPUB3, it limits the number of apps patrons can use to read their content. CSS3 and HTML5 is a valid alternative to the EPUB3 format, because books can be read online on any major internet browser.
Instead of relying on dedicated e-reading apps, you can read the books on any major web browser on the PC, MAC, Android, and IOS.
Amazon and Kobo have already taken advantage of HTML5 by opening the Kindle Cloud Reader and the Kobo Cloud Reader. These were initially designed and made available to buy, purchase, and read books on the iPad and iPhones, but since has expanded. The main reason they developed these online reading apps is because Apple had implemented a policy last year that demanded all in-app purchases be made by iTunes. They bypassed the iTunes restrictions by developing a fully featured HTML5 based store app that functioned like their iOS or Android equivalents.
With on-line accessibility, devices like the Blackberry Playbook, tablets, and most smartphones to enjoy an online reading experience. Most of the existing HTML5 reading apps with the largest footprint is Kobo and Amazon.
In the last six months, the Adobe Publishing Suite has introduced a number of CSS3, HTML5, and other plugins to convert existing books. Readium, a project of IDPF, is an open source reference system and rendering engine for EPUB publications which supports WebKit-based environments, so authors, publishers, and developers can test EPUB 3 content and tools.
Calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books. It works on Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8.
Worldwide tablet shipments outpaced predictions reaching a record total of 52.5 million units worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to preliminary data from IDC. The tablet market grew 75.3% year over year in 4Q12 (up from 29.9 million units in 4Q11).