We at O’Reilly are very pleased to announce that we have officially upgraded to EPUB 3, and ebook bundles purchased from oreilly.com will now include EPUB 3 files, in addition to Mobi and PDF files. All O’Reilly ebooks released in 2013 are now available in EPUB 3 format, and in the coming weeks, we will be updating and rereleasing our backlist ebooks in EPUB 3 as well.
But while we’re excited to share this news, this article is not merely a press release. The decision of when and how to upgrade to EPUB 3 has been challenging for many in the publishing community, and it has been a long journey for O’Reilly as well. I’d like to talk more about why we chose to take this step now, what additional value we believe EPUB 3 provides to our customers, and the challenges and tradeoffs we’ve tackled in making our EPUBs backward compatible with EPUB 2 platforms.
It’s been more than a year since the EPUB 3 specification was first approved by the IDPF (it was released in October of 2011). Which begs the question, “Why the one-year delay to adopt EPUB 3?” or less politely, “What took you so long?” The answer is that upgrading to EPUB 3 is not a trivial undertaking, nor is it one that can be reasonably taken unilaterally. To successfully produce and deliver EPUB 3 as part of a ebook program, there are two key prerequisites: having the necessary workflows and tools in place to create EPUB files compliant with the EPUB 3.0 specification, and having ereader platforms available that formally support the 3.0 format. As of early 2012, neither of these preconditions was met, but in the past year, there has been much progress on both fronts. Here are some key milestones: