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Best of TOC, 3rd Edition by O'Reilly TOC Team

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Chapter 11. Formats

Portable Documents for the Open Web (Part 1)

By Bill McCoy

Having been involved for over two decades with the intersection of technology and publishing, I’m looking forward to being an occasional writer for the TOC blog. At Joe Wikert’s invitation, I’m starting out with my personal vision for the future of portable documents and the Web, including the relationship between EPUB 3, HTML5 and PDF. This post is the first in a three-part series.

What’s up with HTML5 and EPUB 3? (and, is EPUB even important in an increasingly cloud-centric world?)

EPUB is the well-known open standard XML-based format for eBooks and other digital publications, based on HTML and CSS. EPUB is the primary distribution format for B&N Nook, Kobo, Apple iBooks, Sony Reader, and many other eBook platforms, and is supported by Amazon as an ingestion format for Kindle (whose distribution format is proprietary).

Until recently EPUB has been primarily used for text-centric publications, with pagination and formatting generally applied “on the fly” by reading systems. But the latest EPUB 3, whose specification was completed last Fall, now supports complex fixed layouts as well as audio and video, interactivity, MathML, and many other new features. It’s definitely not your father’s EPUB any more. But, since the vast majority of this added goodness comes from HTML5 and related Web Standards, rather than anything intrinsic to EPUB, some have questioned whether EPUB is a necessary or beneficial ingredient ...

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