Over at TeleRead, a reader and author has posed a question worth unzipping: why not just code your eBooks using HTML and skip EPUB all together?
As a precursor to the ACP/BNC EPUB BookCamp on Monday, March 30th, it’s a great question. And thanks to the commentors at TeleRead, there are some very clear answers.
- Uniformity of display: the strictly defined tags that are the backbone of a EPUB file (well, the XHTML that makes up the EPUB file) allows for consistent display on any device. If you want your image to look a certain way no matter where it’s seen, the EPUB standard gets you a lot closer to that than standard HTML. Same deal with the strictly defined CSS subset.
- Metadata: librarians and booksellers rejoice! EPUB files package metadata within the file itself (just like those other reading devices, hardcovers and paperbacks).
- Ability to specify contents and reading order: internal reference and order are simple to specify using the OPF specification…and it’s easier and more user-friendly than just inline HTML.
- DRM-possible: yes, it’s true that it’s easier to apply DRM to EPUB than to HTML. Using these files allows the option to be there if that’s the route the publisher wants to take.
An EPUB file might be a bit more work to create at first but it’s not all that different from HTML (and if you’re used to XHTML, you’re already most of the way there). And if you’re reluctant because you feel like EPUB is more difficult to view, there’s a great list of how to read your EPUB files here.
Much more will be said about EPUB on Monday, March 30 so stay tuned…