Publishers look to adopt the EPub digital format
AltFormat.org discusses the current fragmentation of e-book formats, and the rise of the new EPub format.
E-books (electronic book including DAISY, HTML, and PDFs to name but a few) are an extremely powerful medium, providing visually impaired and dyslexic readers who cannot access printed text full access to reading materials. E-book playback tools, including software (such as Dolphin EasyReader) and hardware playback devices, allow readers to change the text size, the text and background colours to higher contrast combinations, to scroll through text automatically, and have the book read aloud using the latest text-to-speech technology.
E-books have been around for several years now, with many different formats being used (including DAISY, HTML, and PDFs). However, the e-book publishing industry, in collaboration with e-book retailers, are increasingly adopting the new EPub (.epub), providing a consistent standard and avoiding further fragmenting the market into a higher number of less-popular e-book formats.
What is EPub?
EPub is an open standard for "reflowable" content, meaning that text can be optimised for the particular display device. EPub became an official standard of the International; Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) in September 2007 superseding the older Open eBook standard. EPub is packaged as a ZIP file. This ZIP includes three specifications:
- Open Publication Structure (OPS) 2.0: contains the formatting of the book
- Open Packaging Format (OPF) 2.0: describes the structure of the .epub file in XML
- OEBPS Container Format (OCF) 1.0: collects all files as a ZIP archive
EPub uses XHTML or DTBook (an XML standard provided by the DAISY Consortium) to represent the text and ZIP the book in a packaged format. EPub also includes optional support for e-book copyright owners to add Digital Rights Management (DRM) tools to the content (Link to DRM article).
Who's using EPub?
Following the launch of Waterstones' e-book store (external link), which provide e-books in the EPub format, the landscape for distributing e-books in the UK and internationally has significantly changed. Where e-books had previously been few and far between, they are now increasingly available.
Publishers HarperCollins are preparing to publish 500 new titles in the EPub format, including literary fiction, children's books and some non-fiction. HarperCollins are also preparing to publish a further 1500 titles from their back catalogue in the format. With other publishers making similar plans, hundreds of books are now being made available in the EPub format.
Accessibility limitations of e-book provision for visually impaired and dyslexic readers
However, the availability of a standardised e-book format only provides half the solution to providing accessible information. Many copyright holders are protecting their content with Digital Rights Management tools, which have been known to restrict the accessibility of the content to use with assistive technology such as screen readers.
Looking for an Accessible Solution
This limitation to assistive technology users greatly restricts the application of e-books to the very people who can benefit from them most, and although great steps have been made to making electronic copies of reading materials, the e-books market remains restrictive to visually impaired and dyslexic readers. AltFormat.org recommends that an accessible solution be provided through the collaborative efforts of publishers and assistive technology e-book readers, allowing full access to e-books, including the new EPub format on mainstream assistive reading devices.
Source: www.Wikipedia.org (external link)