The first publishing meeting of 2013 – the Digital Book World has ended, but has witnessed a real hype about EPUB3 and HTML5 as the new digital formats of choice. There is no consensus on where the future is taking us, therefore many indie companies are employing any of the two. The major question to ponder on is whether HTML5 or EPUB3 will be future of digital publishing in the New Year.
Giants like Kobo and Barnes and Nobles announced the inclusion of the EPUB3 format as standard in their ebook readers, tablets and apps. But without publishing the content which is viable for multimedia elements that EPUB3 offers, there is no point in making this format the default.
There is only one publisher, namely Hachette, who has announced its commitment to publish content fit for the EPUB3 format. The COO of Hachette, Ken Michaels said: “HBG’s goal is to get our authors’ works out to consumers as broadly as possible, with the most engaging experience for readers regardless of device or platform, along with high quality aesthetics and entertainment. To do this in a world of rapid technological change, the industry needs standards like EPUB3 that enable a wider range of publishing creativity in handling complex layouts, rich media and interactivity capabilities. This EPUB3 release is an exciting step forward in our publishing program and will greatly benefit our readers as the industry fully recognizes the potential and fully adopts this important standard.”
In the opinion of SPI Global and major technology developers, the EPUB format is on the path of extinction, especially when tablet reading has become hugely popular. But Book Industry Group Study and IDPF constantly push for a brighter future of EPUB.
EPUB3 is quite limited at this time, as most online readers do not support the format. Apart from Apple that provides the best support features for EPUB3, all major companies such as Amazon, Kobo and Barnes and Noble have not adopted EPUB in their operating systems and apps. The dilemma is that limited apps support contents for EPUB3 formats. If publishers use this format, they will end up using lots of EPUB2 features, sidelining the true multimedia experience.
CSS3 and HTML5 are a viable alternative to EPUB3, as books can accessed online through any internet browser. It allows readers to access ebooks on MAC, PC, Android and IOS without relying on e-reading apps. Amazon and Kobo have already employed HTML5 through Kindle Cloud Reader and Kobo Cloud Reader.
While Kobo and Amazon have the largest HTML apps, their books do not support multimedia content. Publishers have yet not developed multimedia ebbooks in HTML or CSS format, making a very difficult situation as most used publishing programs are made by Adobe.
HTML5 based ebook readers have the major advantage of displaying both HTML5 and EPUB3 formats, so it is a better system to invest in. But there is no clear answer to the future of digital publishing. If there is a choice between investing in new apps or in already existing HTML format, the choice is definitely hard.