Can ebooks finally open up to innovation?

Tinashe Mushakavanhu, TNPS Editor, reading on Kindle in Saratoga Park, Brooklyn. Photo: Natasha Hatendi

It is a merger that has been widely anticipated. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) have finally decided to join forces to bring some level of sophistication to e-books.

The partnership envisions ebook content to mimic the openness and accessibility of the web. Consumers have been expecting their digital content to give them a robust multimedia experience that looks good on every platform, be it an e-reader, the web, or an app.

eBook publishing is currently dominated by a file format known as EPUB 3, which does not function properly with work that is often visually complicated such as poetry. Many have advocated for the adoption of HTML5 instead. Using this open web standard, ebooks can assume a near-limitless number of forms and can be shared seamlessly across a host of devices and screens.

Adoption of HTML5, or at least an update to EPUB 3, could also give publishers more creative opportunities with regard to production. But it is the idea of change that has been cause of concern as it places the burden on publishers to update their files (a costly process).

As such, arriving at the merger has not been smooth sailing. Members of the IDPF have been concerned for its future. The IDPF recommended the use of EPUB 3 since 2010 and was adopted by many publishers’ (and e-book sellers, like Barnes & Noble and Kobo) as the format of choice.

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Notes on literature, media & technology.

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Tinashe Mushakavanhu

Tinashe Mushakavanhu

Notes on literature, media & technology.