Saturday, January 14, 2012

E-publishing distribution formats for 2012

Here are the "container" formats for e-publishers to distribute in this year. There are a bunch of older ones which don't appear much anymore* after 2011, The Year Of The E-Reader. (Some said 2010 was that Year, but it was really last year.)

EPUB (.epub)

Technically, it's all about EPUB 3.0 superseding EPUB 2.0.1. (I write "EPUB" instead of "ePub", etc. as that's what's on the standard.)

EPUB (.epub) fixed-layout

Apparently from Apple, it really just seems to be EPUB with pixel-specific settings in the "style" attributes (CSS) in the EPUB file. There are samples from eBook Architects. It's like PDF in that it doesn't "reflow". I guess whether one wants to call this a "different" format from EPUB is a matter of debate.

KF8 (.kf8)

Amazon's new format to "replace" its old MOBI 7. Could add to some confusion of publishing the "same" book in both EPUB (for NOOK, etc.) and KF8 (for Kindle).

KF8 released for publishers
For Word editors
For HTML+CSS editors

CDF (.cdf)

From Wolfram Research, this is the Computable Document Format (CDF). When CDF "players" are available for tablets, it could be huge in the math e-textbook domain.

How it compares to EPUB

HPub (.hpub)

Used by the Baker Framework to make HTML5-based books or magazines to be downloaded as iOS apps. Could be more powerful than EPUB 3 alone (e.g. allow more JavaScript-ing).

.hpubBaker.ipa (iOS "app")

As mentioned above, Amazon will "replace" MOBI with KF8 (sort of, and not yet for its E Ink Touch reader). PDF will stay around as long as people have printers (though fixed-layout EPUB replaces a lot of its non-reflow "features"), Flash will be edged out. HTML5 will rule.

That's about it. Any other formats worth mentioning I missed?

2012/01/21: On Thursday, Apple announced new format: a NotTechnicallyInEPUB (or "iBooks") format. More about when people can figure out what it means.

* For conversion of EPUB files to older formats, or the conversion of HTML to EPUB, see Calibre (there is a list of formats there). Editing of EPUB files can be done with Sigil.