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The Challenge of Apple Forking the EPUB Standard with iBooks Author - 4 Articles to Read

IBooksAuthorWhile I ranted last week (here and here) about the lock-in aspect of Apple's launch of iBooks Author, an even more disturbing action Apple took was to "embrace and extend" the EPUB standard and create their own version. In programming-speak, they "forked" the standard and are now off with their own proprietary - and incompatible - version.

What this means is that I was wrong in my last post - there is in fact a technical restriction on how you can view ebooks created with the new iBooks Author app.

Basically, you can only view them on the iPad using iBooks.

That's it.

Complete lock-in, both legally and technically.

Here are four posts that go into great detail about the new format and explain how Apple deviated from the EPUB standard:

I share the frustration of both authors and have to end quoting Baldur Bjarnason's last post in his series:

The idea behind ePub3 is that it would, finally, bring ebooks to a relative feature parity with the web and enable more advanced authoring and reading tools. The iBooks Author application is exactly the sort of app people expected would be brought to market as a result of ePub3’s capabilities. The iBooks new textbooks are exactly the sort of dynamic, interactive, and rich ebooks that ePub3 enables.

Now that Apple has decided to deliver both as a part of a custom format that throws the future of ePub3 into question. Apple isn’t an outsider who decided that a format somebody else didn’t have the capabilities it needed, it is essentially one of the format’s co-authors. One of the format’s biggest proponents and supporters has forked ePub3.

This is akin to Google deciding to build support for an incompatible fork of the HTML5 standard in Chrome after it had gone through the trouble of building consensus around the standard.

Will Apple add ePub3 to iBooks now? If they do, will they do a full-featured implementation that matches the capabilities of the textbook format, or will they just work like a warmed over ePub2 files?

What was the point of Apple’s participation in the ePub3 standards process?

No. I have to say, I still don’t understand why they did it.

Again, iBooks Author just makes me sad...

P.S. Hat tip to Rich Ruh for pointing me to one of these articles, which then led to others.

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