epub 3 coming soon to a reader near you!

Posted by Edwin H Rydberg

That’s right, epub 3 is coming soon.

What is epub 3?

epub is the international standard e-book format currently supported by all e-book readers with the notable exception of Kindle and is based on xhtml (the other main format is mobi which what Amazon Kindle format books are based on). Yes, that means it’s quite similar in format to a web page. If you’re at all tech/internet-savvy that immediately suggests certain ideas for use in e-books–namely video and audio. However, until now that has been difficult to impossible.

Enter epub 3

epub 3 includes support for integrated video and audio, global language support, multi-column support, impoved display of math formulae, improved navigation, and better support for embedded fonts.

Some of these options seem at odds with books. I mean, video incorporation? But wait! What this host of new features suggest is that epub 3 can be used more easily for a wide range of reading materials. The multi-column and improved math support open the way for easier formatting as proper newspaper/magazines and improved technical manual production, for example.

In addition, epub3 books could become the reading world equivalent of blu-ray. That is, they could have built-in a host of extra features. Imagine fans having access to video of author interviews and book trailers. A single epub book could include various formats of the story including audiobook, graphic novel and multiple language versions.

So I can envision a host of Collector-Edition e-books. The only thing missing is the ability to have signing by the author (which would also require some kind of authentification protocol, in the case of serious collectors).

All in all, I think the epub3 format looks to be poised to really open up the e-book world (of course, you’ll need a new reader, or upgraded software…). Next year should be very exciting in the world of e-publishers.