Eboocz is all about the EPUB ebook standard and on Monday the IDPF, the organization responsible for EPUB, published the first editor’s draft of the new EPUB 3.1 specification. To most people in the world that’s not big news, but I myself can’t help to be a little excited. Eboocz supports the EPUB 3.01 standard and the new version promises to be a major change. The most important change is that EPUB 3.1 brings the EPUB standard more in line with the Open Web Platform. The OWP is the collection of open (royalty-free) technologies which enables the Web.
Why is this important? Why should you care? Well, I already wrote about the future of ebooks and how the future of ebooks is on the web. The W3C and the IDPF are working together in the Digital Publishing Interest Group to develop a new format that will diminish the separation between offline/portable (EPUB) and online (Web) document publishing to zero. The vision for this new format is called Portable Web Publications. These Portable Web Publications will be fully native citizens of the Open Web Platform. Think of it as web pages that can be saved as offline ebooks and the other way around. I think this new development will be an enormous boost for ebooks, because I expect that all types of long reads on the web will be published in this new format and people will get used to saving them offline as ebooks. Writers will also be able to simply publish their previews and free books online on their own website where readers can find and read them without first having to download them. I haven’t even begun to figure out what all the consequences will be, but I’m convinced it will be a game changer.
The publication of EPUB 3.1 is an important first step towards this vision, because it makes EPUB more compliant with the standards of the Open Web Platform. Compliancy with OWP is a condition for being able to take the next step. So the announcement of EPUB 3.1 is indeed a historic moment for ebooks, because it promises a future where ebooks will be full citizens of the Open Web Platform.
For now EPUB 3.1 is only a draft. It will take until October of this year for EPUB 3.1 to become a recommended specification and it will probably take years for reading systems to support. The same goes for Portable Web Documents. It will probably be two or three years before that specification reaches maturity and will be supported, but when that happens, I’m convinced it will change digital publishing.
Eboocz is committed to supporting these new standards when they become available. Probably not right away, since it is no use supporting them when there are no reading systems that support them, but I will follow this development very closely and when it’s time I will make the change. How I will do this is a matter I haven’t quite figured out, but I can imagine an option in the Create Ebook! screen where one could choose which version of EPUB to create. Or it could be an option in the meta data screen. I guess I have probably more than a year to contemplate this.