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Old 05-29-2013, 02:50 AM   #1
pstjmack
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EPUB3: Ready or not?

Does anyone else have an opinion on the current Digital Reader/Bill McCoy faceoff on the readiness of EPUB3?

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/b...ublishing.html

http://www.the-digital-reader.com/20.../#.UaWkwvHLWb4


As a digitally self-published poet struggling with formatting issues, who skipped EPUB because of its unpredictable layouts, I would love to hear your views.
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Old 05-29-2013, 07:03 AM   #2
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The advocates have a definite ax to grind in pushing epub3. Even if dedicated readers sales are declining, largely because anyone that wanted one has one, they are nearly all epub2 readers. The existing readers are all epub2 readers. So if you want to sell something, it better be useable on these existing readers.

If you are into formatting, the reflowable nature of epubs are going to drive you to distraction. This will not be solved by epub3 so long as it is reflowable. You can hobble it so it is no longer really an epub by keeping it from being reflowed.

In that case, why not just publish it as a pdf, which most of these readers and tablets and computers can all read and can be created on any computer with a pdf printer driver and a publishing or word processing program.
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Old 05-29-2013, 07:37 AM   #3
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In that case, why not just publish it as a pdf, which most of these readers and tablets and computers can all read and can be created on any computer with a pdf printer driver and a publishing or word processing program.
Kindle/mobi seems to get the balance right in allowing reflow and keeping consistent formatting. And the attraction of both Kindle and EPUB is precisely that they do allow reflowing. I'm wondering what EPUB's problem is this way.

My personal axe to grind is poetry. Some displays just fine in some ebook readers. Other examples don't. Sometimes the same book will look just fine in, for instance, the EPUB reader add-on for Firefox, while losing its verse breaks and turning into single blocks of text in FBReader. Maybe this is an issue in the software's implementation of the EPUB standard rather than the standard itself, but I certainly don't see much sign that it's been addressed by the EPUB community - unless EPUB3 is supposed to be the solution that fixes these issues.
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:19 AM   #4
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while losing its verse breaks and turning into single blocks of text in FBReader.
Last time I checked, FBReader didn't support much of CSS. There's nothing the ePub standard can do if a reader will not support CSS (except making it clear that it's not a compliant ePub reader).
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Old 05-29-2013, 09:51 AM   #5
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Kindle/mobi seems to get the balance right in allowing reflow and keeping consistent formatting. And the attraction of both Kindle and EPUB is precisely that they do allow reflowing. I'm wondering what EPUB's problem is this way.
I'm not really seeing much in the way of advantages/disadvantages (regarding formatting/reflow) between Kindle/ePub now that KF8 is full swing. It seems pretty much a wash to me in that department. Could you elaborate?

Unless you're referring to the fact that there's a myriad of ePub reading apps/devices out there all rendering ePub's with slightly different quirks and interpretations of (or outright indifference to) the ePub specs. If that's the case, the same mis-interpretation of (or outright indifference to) the ePub3 specs won't change that at all. As Jellby mentioned... there's nothing The Standard can do about reading apps/devices that choose to ignore the specs (or add their own features).

That's just a classic example of the differences between the evil, largely-undocumented yet fairly consistent "proprietary" standard; and the transparent, well-documented, yet casually ignored and inconsistently-implemented "open" standard. *shrugs*
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Old 05-29-2013, 01:58 PM   #6
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My personal axe to grind is poetry. Some displays just fine in some ebook readers. Other examples don't. Sometimes the same book will look just fine in, for instance, the EPUB reader add-on for Firefox, while losing its verse breaks and turning into single blocks of text in FBReader.
IMHO, it's next to impossible to create an epub that will display the same on all devices and apps, unless you keep the formatting very simple.
A low-tech solution would be to focus on getting your epub to display correctly in ADE. You cold then mention in the preface of your book that the epub was optimized for viewing with ADE and that you strongly recommend using ADE as the viewing app. (In spit of its many bugs, ADE/RMSDK is pretty much the de-facto epub 2 reference implementation, because most ebook reader manufacturers have licensed it for DRM purposes. Adobe also offers free Windows and Mac ADE apps.)
You could also use Jellby's XPGT trick to create ADE-only styles and alternative styles for all other readers.

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Maybe this is an issue in the software's implementation of the EPUB standard rather than the standard itself, but I certainly don't see much sign that it's been addressed by the EPUB community - unless EPUB3 is supposed to be the solution that fixes these issues.
epub 3 was primarily designed for interactive ebooks with JavaScript code and audio/video files. I.e., even when it is eventually supported by the majority of ebook readers and apps, it most likely won't help you much with your poetry styles.
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Old 05-29-2013, 06:00 PM   #7
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Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to the raison d'etre for EPUB3?
The utility of EPUB2 is easy to grasp: define a subset of HTML4 so that books can be displayed on devices with limited features.
With EPUB3, it seems like more or less all of HTML5 is supported, giving the possibility of all-singing, all-dancing e-books. But what is then the point of wrapping another format around HTML5? Why not just keep your document as just an HTML file and have one less standard to comply with?
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Old 05-29-2013, 07:05 PM   #8
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Your questions are good. The answers probably have nothing to do with merit and everything to do with marketing.
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Old 05-30-2013, 01:12 AM   #9
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Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to the raison d'etre for EPUB3?
The utility of EPUB2 is easy to grasp: define a subset of HTML4 so that books can be displayed on devices with limited features.
With EPUB3, it seems like more or less all of HTML5 is supported, giving the possibility of all-singing, all-dancing e-books. But what is then the point of wrapping another format around HTML5? Why not just keep your document as just an HTML file and have one less standard to comply with?
The rational was to update ePub 2 to keep up with the technology changes, hence adopting HTML5 instead of 4, MATHML, and several more. A browser does not make a good eBook reader as it scrolls rather than pages, like a book. But they seem to have gotten carried away with features and lost the eBook roots IMHO.

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Old 05-30-2013, 05:30 AM   #10
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Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to the raison d'etre for EPUB3?
The utility of EPUB2 is easy to grasp: define a subset of HTML4 so that books can be displayed on devices with limited features.
With EPUB3, it seems like more or less all of HTML5 is supported, giving the possibility of all-singing, all-dancing e-books. But what is then the point of wrapping another format around HTML5? Why not just keep your document as just an HTML file and have one less standard to comply with?
Epub3 is great for languages with a different alphabet. In Japanese for instance, epub3 allows tateyomi (reading from right to left on vertical lines). Also, I'm currently reading a book with several footnotes. Each time I select one, it appears in a pop-up window. From there I can go to the linked page if there is more than the pop-up can show and easily go back to the page I was reading.
There are several posts around here explaining what the epub3 format has to offer, if you want to know more about it
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Old 05-30-2013, 06:05 AM   #11
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Popup footnotes sre part of the epub3 spec? Or do some readers just allow scripted popup windows in general?
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Old 05-30-2013, 06:13 AM   #12
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ePub 2 already supports right-to-left writing, since it's implicit in Unicode... yet ADE ignores that, of course.
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Old 05-30-2013, 06:22 AM   #13
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Epub3 is great for languages with a different alphabet.
That applies mostly to CJK, because most epub 2 implementations support foreign languages with the appropriate embedded fonts.
The only exception are languages with different initial, medial, final and isolated glyphs, RTL languages and some CJK features, e.g. Ruby and tate-yomi, and this lack of support was mostly caused by Adobe, because if I understand the epub 2.0.1 specs correctly, nothing would have prevented Adobe from implementing support for those languages in ADE.

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I'm currently reading a book with several footnotes. Each time I select one, it appears in a pop-up window. From there I can go to the linked page if there is more than the pop-up can show and easily go back to the page I was reading.
That's pretty much the only epub 3 feature that's actually an improvement over epub 2.01. Unfortunately, Amazon decided not to include it in the KF8 format.
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Old 05-30-2013, 06:28 AM   #14
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Popup footnotes sre part of the epub3 spec? Or do some readers just allow scripted popup windows in general?
It has been implemented as a special aside epub:type attribute.
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Old 05-30-2013, 06:53 AM   #15
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even when it is eventually supported by the majority of ebook readers and apps, it most likely won't help you much with your poetry styles.
People, can we clarify here? We are saying that the electronic publishing standard being promoted worldwide as *the* future platform for ebooks cannot handle something as fundamental to all world literature as poetry? The basis of most world literatures in any language whatsoever? What kind of a standard is that?
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