EPUB3, HTML5 or Apps – What is the Future of eBook Publishing?

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future ebook trends

Publishers and eBook stores have been facing something of a quandary recently; the subject in question has been the future of digital publishing. The bone of contention seems to be finding a method of delivery for eBooks that will appeal to all, this is a topic that has dominated conferences about digital publishing the length and breadth of the land.

Books have enjoyed a transformation in line with the evolution of the internet itself, it is not uncommon for eBooks to have interactive features and appear in dedicated apps. They can be read on the web with the new generation of Cloud Readers in the vein of offerings by Amazon, Kobo and Overdrive. You can also download enhanced eBooks in the form of apps from Apple, Google Play, Sony, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.

Ebooks enjoy the substantial advantages over traditional publications in the form of enhancements provided by interactive features. These features provide an altogether more engaging experience, video, audio, narration and gaming elements only available through the power of interactive features within eBooks; have made them an attractive proposition to many. EBook readers, whether they are reading the publications on the web or through enhanced versions through smartphone, tablets or PC are often doing so through HTML 5 or EPUB 3.

EPUB 3, which is the latest version of the industry-standard XML eBook format encapsulates both HTML 5 and CSS3, a fact that was alluded to in a recent article by Michael Kozlowski of goodereader.com who, through a series of interviews with industry leaders delved deeper into the questions that have been arising with increasing regularity in recent years.

Matt Edelman from Glossi elaborated “The barriers will be based on what enables publishers to best distribute and monetize their publications. Amazon’s dedication to its own format, KF8, makes KF8 a requirement for book publishers. KF8 will only go away if Amazon moves to another format. At the same time, no one else is rushing to adopt KF8; they see Amazon as dominant enough already. HTML5 and EPUB3 have advantages for multi-media publishing and distribution, although they are not exactly analogous. You can have an HTML5 experience within an EPUB3 ‘container.’ HTML5 cannot offer everything in terms of eBook creation that EPUB3 offers… yet. However, EPUB3 faces two key barriers: lack of backwards compatibility with all EPUB2 readers and less support across platforms and devices. Any restriction on distribution threatens wider adoption.”

Finally, Matt from Glossi summed it up by saying, “I don’t think there is anything driving the various members of the digital publishing ecosystem to proactively choose a unified platform. Not even consumers would benefit from that. Just as some people prefer hard cover books over ANY digital alternative, so too will segments of consumers continue to gravitate towards publications that offer unique value specifically because of the platform on which they are published. And as long as there is a market for more than one alternative, there will be suppliers for that market.
What does seem clear though is that the web itself is becoming the publishing platform of choice as it matures. That suggests HTML5 may become the most dominant platform, largely because it would be the most economical one.”

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