By Hannah Johnson
At the IDPF Digital Book Conference preceding BookExpo America, Bill McCoy (Executive Director, IDPF) discussed today’s release of EPUB 3, an update on what the IDPF hopes will become the universally accepted standard format for e-books and digital book content in the future.
Specifications the new EPUB 3 e-book format were posted today on the IDPF website: http://idpf.org/epub/30. Built using XML and Web standards, EPUB 3 supports a number of new features that have become more necessary as publishers and authors innovate how content is created and packaged:
- Global language support
- Multicolumn layout
- Embedded fonts
- Enhanced metadata
- Improved accessibility
- and more
The IDPF has worked closely with the DAISY Consortium to make sure this update of EPUB included accessibility features. In a press release, George Kerscher, IDPF president said, “EPUB 3 marks the mainstreaming of accessibility capabilities within the universal commercial digital publication format standard.”
At the conference, McCoy told the audience that one goal with EPUB 3 is to “make content more valuable” for publishers, to allow them to reuse their content in as may ways as possible. Publishers won’t have to “reauthor for new devices” or to comply with accessibility standards, but can instead create content once in EPUB 3.
Another requirement for the update was backwards compatibility. McCoy assured publishers that reading systems using EPUB 3 were also required to read EPUB 2. For books that include mainly pictures and text, McCoy said publishers don’t necessarily have to update that content.
Over the coming months, IDPF will work with international organizations to get official endorsement of EPUB 3 as the standard e-book format. They will also work with software developers to make sure tools are available to publishers and content creators to create EPUB 3 content.
McCoy said that Adobe InDesign 5.5 already includes support for audio and video, and Apple has updated its Safari Web browser to include support for EPUB 3. McCoy expects mainstream reading systems that support EPUB to updated to EPUB 3 by late summer.