Chapter 1. What Is EPUB 3?

EPUB 3 in a Nutshell

So what exactly is an EPUB? If you follow electronic publishing at all, you’ve undoubtedly run into the term, but you may have seen or heard it incorrectly being used as a synonym for “ebook”—as a shorthand for talking about electronic books. Although the two terms share a common relation in electronic book production, they aren’t interchangeable. EPUB, as we’re here to discover, is a format for representing documents in electronic form. “Ebook,” on the other hand, is just an abstract term used to encompass any electronic representation of a book, and includes formats such as PDF, HTML, ASCII text, Word, and a host of others, in addition to EPUB.

Like “ebook,” the EPUB name comes from a contraction of terms—in this case, Electronic PUBlication. The choice of the more general term “publication” was deliberate, and it was selected specifically so that expectations of the format wouldn’t be pigeonholed into a single document type. EPUB may garner much of its notoriety from its prominence in the ebook world, but don’t think that the format won’t be a good fit for your needs just because you’re not planning to publish novels.

EPUB was always intended to be a general-purpose document format, and it can be used to represent many kinds of publications other than just books: from magazines to newspapers to journals and on through office documents and policies and beyond. Just about any document type you want to distribute electronically can be ...

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