W3C, IDPF Merge to Make Ebooks Smarter

Ever since ebooks came into play, there’s been a great divide between those who prefer physical books and those who prefer digital books. Ebooks are generally considered a hassle-free way to carry around an entire library of books in a single device like a laptop or tablet – or an ebook reader. Now, it looks like ebooks are ready to get a lot smarter with the announced merger of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), the developers of EPUB as the global standard for ebooks.

W3C, IDPF Merge to Make Ebooks SmarterThe merger, in simple terms, will bring Web technology to ebooks to make the latter more interactive than it currently is. Ebooks on devices like the Amazon Kindle are limited to text-based reading. The organisations, however, envision a future where ebooks can do a lot more like show videos or quizzes from the web.

The two organisations hope that book authors will incorporate Web capabilities such as “linking to dynamic documents, search, and multimedia” in the future, according to the press release. The idea here is that ebooks right now offer a linear model whereas the Web contains a vast network of related content that should be accessed.

George Kerscher, Chief Innovations Officer for the Daisy Consortium and president of IDPF since 2010 commented, “By combining our organisations, we not only align our technology roadmaps, but also accelerate the adoption of content that is natively accessible and device-friendly for all types of publishing, whether you are reading on the Web or offline.”

According to the roadmap laid out by Publishing@W3C, focus will be put on both online as well as offline access for digital publications. The aim is to allow people reading on an offline device to interact and retain the information when they are back online.

The organisations are also looking to improve formatting matters like layout, typography and hyphenation. The current EPUB 3 content is based on Web technologies like HTML while formatting is based on CSS. The next generation of EPUB requirements will decided at a proposed Publications Working Group. The EPUB Summit will take place from 9-10 March in Brussels, Belgium.

Aakash Ghosh

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