When e-readers hit the market, the process of shopping for and consuming texts changed forever, but even that seismic shift is in the relative rear-view. Now you don’t even need a dedicated e-reader to shop for and read texts. It can be done with your smartphone, tablet, mp3 player, laptop, or just about any other device with an internet connection. Of course, creating richly interactive texts that translate seamlessly across those many devices does present some challenges in its own right. That’s where ePub3 enters the picture. What is ePub? Put simply, it’s the standard for digital publishing, and ePub3 is the latest edition. By incorporating HTML5, and other online coding, ePub3 allows the creation of texts that are more interactive and feature-rich than ever before. It also comes with some “nuts-and-bolts” improvements for digital publishing:
- Formatting – A well-designed e-text is only valuable if that design functions the same across every modern reading device, and ePub3 delivers in this area with the latest in formatting updates and standardization.
- Global Language – In addition, ePub3 is global-language friendly, with support for right-to-left reading, vertical writing, and enhanced annotation. With e-texts reaching far beyond any geographical restrictions, improved language support is a must-have.
The ability to format texts for a global audience is great, but reaching all readers requires more than just the right formatting. Readers simply expect more out of their texts than before, and it is in this area that ePub3 truly shines.
- Accessibility – People with learning disabilities, visual impairments, second-language or literacy challenges, and other reading-related issues benefit from several enhancements brought to the open standard ePub3 format. ePub3 enables accessibility features such as better semantics, pronunciation hints, media overlays and improved text-to-speech playback.
- Text to Speech – One of the most promising aspects of ePub3 is its compatibility with text-to-speech technology. One of our services, ReadSpeaker Narrator, supports a wide variety of input formats, including ePub, HTML, XML, PDF, and more. Narrator also supports 32 languages, and allows automatic creation of audiobooks with natural sounding-speech, which can be listened to in ePub3 (as well as DAISY and MP3 formats).
- Interactivity and Multimedia Capability – Online reading has changed expectations for readers, who now expect more from texts than just words on a page. This means supporting media overlays which allow easy integration of supporting audio and video information, and turning texts into an interactive experience for readers. Beyond the accessibility benefits, this offers readers a rich experience that can compete with the many other media options vying for the readers’ attention.
The promise of ePub3 specifically and digital publishing in general is the opportunity to reach more people. This is true whether you are trying to bring your content to readers with accessibility challenges, or you are trying to stand out from the pack to attract busy readers. Interactive, accessible texts open doors for more readers, at home, in classrooms, and beyond. Image Credit: Nestor Galina