And that brings us to the big question: who is going to support EPUB 3 and when? Because it’s community driven, and because it has a very large community, people have already begun experimenting, even though the specification isn’t yet a formal recommendation. Apple iBooks, for example, already has early support for the overlays feature of EPUB 3, and read-along children’s books are already available.
With EPUB 3 now in the final stages of the approval process, it will receive recommendation status in fall 2011. In that light, it’s not a stretch to predict that EPUB 3 reading systems will be on shelves—and upgrades to your current systems available—by early 2012 (if not sooner). Many industry heavyweights—like Apple, Sony, Google and Adobe—have been involved in the specification development, and all are expected to begin working on implementations once the finished specification is available to develop against.
The specification has also been crafted with backward compatibility of content in mind. Duplicating content for EPUB 2 and 3 readers is not anything anyone wants to do, so to that end, EPUB 3 has maintained minimal compatibility with EPUB 2 reading systems to ensure that anyone using an older system to read a new book is still (reasonably) able to do so. That’s not to suggest that all EPUB 3s will render seamlessly on older readers (in particular if you are taking heavy advantage of all the new features EPUB 3 has to offer), but if your EPUB 3 is a simple novel—with ...