The Digital Book Conference at the BookExpo America in New York City kicked off today with some huge announcements. First was the obvious bombshell, Kobo has a touch-screen Pearl dipslay e-ink e-reader that went live at 11:00 this morning.
However, the long awaited news has been the upgrades to EPUB 3, and the participants were lined up at the microphones even before the presentation began. We were treated to an elevator pitch of the new version’s features.
Primarily, this version of EPUB was formed from the working groups of the IDPF with the cooperation of over twenty companies who have come on board to implement it to their devices, and iBooks already support a subset of EPUB 3 right out of the gate while Adobe Digital Editions has forward plans. Additionally, one of the requirements from the IDPF was that EPUB 2 files still work on any device that uses EPUB 3, voiding any fears of obsoleteness and erasing participants’ concerns about needing to reformt EPUB 2 files to the new version.
The biggest crowd response came from the news that audio and vido playback are synchronized with the text in real time through Media Overlays, as well as the fact that there is a pronunciation lexicon support . The new format will also mean greater global use, as the vertical language format for Japanese, as well as the right-to-left requirements from several languages will be workable. However, the really exciting part is that the entire book does not have to be formatted for the one language, making it possible now to have a text with different language standards in it.
“EPUB is not rocket science. The specs are lengthy but readable. It’s just web content that is highly supported and packaged for platforms. EPUB 3 is taking it to a new level, but it’s an incremental step. The digital book of the future is being invented right now, and EPUB 3 has been invented to grease the wheels of getting your books out there for you and for your readers,” says IDPF’s Bill McCoy.
In heartwarming news, the DAISY Consortium was fully on-board and collaborated very closely with the IDPF’s working groups. In fact, DAISY Secretary General George Kerscher is also the president of the IDPF, and their partnership means that EPUB 3 will supersede DAISY DTBook as the standard delivery format for accessible content.
The IDPF working groups behind EPUB 3 began work in May 2010, and here we are a year later. What’s in store for EPUB now?
“3.0 is where we are today,” says McCoy, “but we’re not stopping there. We’re promoting global adoption through ISO-level standardization, open source implementation, and modular development of EPUB’s capabilities.”