EPUB3 and the Future of Interoperable E-books: What Libraries Need to Know

Virtual Conference

About the Virtual Conference

EPUB3 is a standard for interoperable e-books that is rapidly being adopted by the publishing and device manufacturing community. It has the promise of allowing publishers to create a single file format that can be rendered on any reading device, such as an e-reader, tablet, laptop, smartphone, etc. This will be a critical component of a library's e-book services, since libraries must be in a position to serve patrons who come in with a range of devices, not simply from one particular supplier. Understanding the e-book files and why EPUB will allow a broader range of fulfilling patron needs is something that both publishers and librarians need to understand. Join us for a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of EPUB3, suggested tools for implementation, barrier issues on the horizon, and the significant improvements in accessibility with EPUB.

Event Sessions

Introductions and Moderation


Keynote Speaker


Sue Polanka

Head, Reference & Instruction, Wright State University Libraries
Wright State University Libraries

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

EPUB and Metadata


12:00 - 12:45 PM

Lunch break

12:45 PM - 1:30 PM

EPUB3: What, How, and Why


1:30 - 2:15 PM: NISO/DAISY Interchange Format Update

2:15 - 2:45 PM: Annotation of E-books: A NISO standard in development

2:45 - 3:15 PM: Identification of E-books 

Afternoon Break

3:15 - 3:30 PM

Implementation and Implications


Jim Dovey

Digital Content Formats Evangelist, Kobo

3:30 - 3:50 PM: BISG's EPUB3 Support Grid 

3:50 - 4:10 PM: Implementing an E-book System

4:10 - 4:30 PM: Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Future of EPUB


George Kerscher

Chief Innovations Officer, DAISY Consortium
Senior Officer, Global Literacy, Benetech

4:30 - 5:00 PM: Roundtable Discussion

Event Q&A With Our Speakers

Q: So just for reading, is there a good non-tablet recommendation?

Bill Kasdorf (BK):  Downloading the free EPUB 3-based Readium plug-in for Chrome (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/readium/fepbnnnkkadjhjahcafoaglimekefifl?hl=en) is generally useful, especially for laptops and desktops (anyplace you can use Chrome).


Q: General question:  Is EPUB3 being considered for management of serials?   The metadata does seem to appear to be specific to books.  Can we build in extra title types to handle information such as "volume" and "issue" etc?

BK: The EPUB 3 spec already accommodates this. A serial is a special case of a collection; the "collection" title-type was deliberately chosen so as not to limit its use to an _ordered_ collection (e.g., a serial). You can specify the sequence with the group-position property on <meta>. And then you can have any number of <dc:identifier>s—e.g., one for the volume, one for the issue—and use <meta> as I described in the presentation to specify the type of each identifier (volume, issue). This is a good example of why the EPUB 3 spec is designed in such a general-purpose way: it accommodates specific use cases like this without being _limited_ to specific use cases.


Q: Does the metadata standard have any way of coping with a publisher updating or adding individual chapters in a work. Can you have a "living" book using ePub3?  Or do you have to version the whole book with each significant change?

BK: EPUB is definitely for a single-file delivery of a discrete, and potentially offline, collection of content. So yes, each time you would add a chapter you would issue a new EPUB, with a new unique-identifier. This is because those previous EPUBs are now "out there in the world" and must not be confused with the later versions.


Q: What authoring tools do you recommend for creating and editing ePubs?

Matt Garrish (MG): in terms of editing and verifying the quality of epubs for accessibility I work very much down at the nuts and bolts markup level using Oxygen editor, which has numerous features that simplify editing. For visual content creation, the choices are growing, with Inlinking Habitat, BlueGriffon EPUB Edition and Adobe InDesign all providing EPUB 3 support.

BK: I would suggest looking at Sigil, a free tool from Google (https://code.google.com/p/sigil/). It's free and open-source. In terms of editing the XHTML files, many XML folks use oXygen.


Q: Wouldn't it make more sense to have one basic identifier for the original content, but different identifiers for different formats?   A book is a book whether it is electronic or print, and the content should remain the same.

BK: YES!! This "work identifier" issue is something the industry is struggling with right now. ISBN is a product identifier (one for each format); there is currently no consensus on a work identifier (ISTC being the most visible candidate but not yet getting much traction).


Q: What was the conclusion of the BISG report on ISBNS?

BK: The BISG report definitely recommended the correct use of ISBNs as product identifiers, one for each format (no such thing as an eISBN). It is available from BISG and an update is in the works right now.

Angela Bole: Please see the Policy Statement from the BISG webpage: http://www.bisg.org/what-we-do-4-150-pol-1101-best-practices-for-identifying-digital-products.php


Q: For dictionaries, is hyphenation control a part of the new features? Say I want my books to hyphenate according to Webster's will it be able to do that if a Webster's dictionary is loaded and selected as the hyphenation dictionary?

BK: The IDPF EPUB 3 Dictionaries Working Group is developing a specification for this. I believe a Public Draft is about to be made available.


Q: I hope you continue to develop page anchors that correspond to the page breaks in the print edition and create a nav element for those.

MG: Indicating page break locations in a print source is a part of EPUB 3 and the page-list nav element in the navigation document provides the means of navigating them. These feature are integral and will maintained and developed as long as live in a dual print/digital world.

BK: Agreed! The spec already calls for a page break <nav> and provides an @epub:type="pagebreak" for this purpose. This is especially important for accessibility but I recommend it as a good practice in general. The EPUB 3.0.1 WG is working on how to specify what the reference source of the page breaks is (not addressed adequately in the EPUB 3.0 spec—it just sort of assumes the <dc:source> is that reference).


Q. Does Readium also allow for reading of local files (e.g. we have Kurzweil for scan and read)?

MG: Readium is a Chrome plug-in, but you load files into it from the local file system so if you have epubs locally there’s nothing preventing you from using Readium. It is not a cloud-based reading system. You would need to get from the Kurzweil file to an epub in order to use it, however.

George Kerscher (GK): Yes, Readium does allow for local reading. In addition, I will put EPUB in my DropBox and I can select to open these files using iBooks, Nook, or Blio; this is on my iPhone.


Q. And many organizations and associations do not publish in EPUB format, at least to my knowledge (e.g. ANSI).

GK: Not yet, but many of us are optimistic that this will change. Many organizations do make materials in HTML, which is far better than PDF.


Q. How much technical know-how is required to make accessible EPUB3 vs PDF? 

MG: EPUB requires more knowledge overall than PDF, but the knowledge only has to grow relative to the complexity of what you’re creating. It’s also a reflection of how much more accommodating a format EPUB can be relative to the inflexibility of PDFs. A basic heading and text epub should be accessible right out of the box. It’s only as you add in footnotes and sidebars and multimedia and scripting and work in fixed layouts that the complexity increases. But the knowledge needed to handle these issues is all open information, as epub leverages web content.

GK: I am not a fan of PDF, because it is very rare that I get an accessible PDF; so it does not appear to be easy to make accessible PDF. Fundamental EPUB 2 and more so with 3, should be much easier to make accessible. The reflowable nature of EPUB means that the text is in proper reading order and elements semantically identified. With PDF, the reading order is normally guessed at and it is difficult to tell what are headings or body text. Many times when the PDF is converted for screen reader use, words will show up on a single line.

Additional Information

  • Registration closes at 12:00 pm Eastern on April 16, 2013. Cancellations made by April 9, 2013 will receive a refund, less a $35 cancellation. After that date, there are no refunds.
  • Registrants will receive detailed instructions about accessing the virtual conference via e-mail the Monday prior to the event. (Anyone registering between Monday and the close of registration will receive the message shortly after the registration is received, within normal business hours.) Due to the widespread use of spam blockers, filters, out of office messages, etc., it is your responsibility to contact the NISO office if you do not receive login instructions before the start of the webinar.
  • If you have not received your Login Instruction email by Tuesday at 10AM (EST) please contact the NISO office or email Jill O'Neill, Educational Programs Manager at joniell@niso.org for immediate assistance.
  • Registration is per site (access for one computer) and includes access to the online recorded archive of the conference. You may have as many people as you like from the registrant's organization view the conference from that one connection. If you need additional connections, you will need to enter a separate registration for each connection needed.
  • If you are registering someone else from your organization, either use that person's e-mail address when registering or contact the NISO office to provide alternate contact information.
  • Conference presentation slides and Q&A will be posted to this event webpage following the live conference.
  • Registrants will receive an e-mail message containing access information to the archived conference recording within 48 hours after the event. This recording access is only to be used by the registrant's organization.