The strategy of self-publishing requires authors be aware of vast and varied considerations… eReaders being just one. To convert, or not convert… to support all models or focus on just one: Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Sony…
It is a given that eReaders are a solid part of our lives today as more readers embrace the efficiencies the product provides and more writers seek to respond to making their books available in multi-format. The lack of standardization in converting manuscripts to one model or another creates confusion, frustration and increased costs of conversion.
Everywhere I look I see questions about the advance features of EPUB3, with writers getting really psyched about the possibilities of enhanced reader experience of embedded audio/video and other interactive options. On the flip side, we see publishers holding bated breath for standards that will resolve potential frustrations of files responding differently on different eReader systems.
There have been questions about the compatibility of HMTL5 and EPUB3… my research shows that HTML5 is actually the base language of EPUB3, requiring only minor tweaking to best manage pagination and other reader engagement. This problem at least appears to be… non-problematic.
As CSS stylesheets are being improved to enrich multi-columns, font support and directional printing… interestingly enough, it appears that one of the leading causes of frustration is the difference in CSS support – and this problem may NOT go away since creators of eReader systems implement their own CSS extensions – frequently proprietary and not necessarily compatible with others.
Amazon and Barnes & Noble have for some time been inserting audio into their eBook files; this will become standard with EPUB3. Although eReaders are not required to support audio.. IF they do, it will be necessary to also support MP3 – and what does this mean to the conversion process?
At the end of the day, what appears to be happening is that more standard bells and whistles are being added through EPUB3; however, no specified format is being required, nor is there a disclosure, as such, to convey that certain formats are not allowed or preventing developers from implementing yet another video format. Although there will be improvements, with absolute certainty, they are not being made with the intent to standardize anything, thus requiring publishers to engage in the laborious pursuit of converting each product to a myriad of eReader systems.
We will continue to see and experience new technology, such as media overlay, such as text highlight requiring yet another “layer” of development and conversion… MathML scalable content or formula images, PDF as a “foreign resource”… scripting… linking… after a while it all begins to boggle the mind!
What I am seeing is that we are simply moving to a new realm with EPUB3 – pushing at the edges of technology, but not with sufficient “standards” to totally avoid the confusion, frustration or duplication of effort in order to manage eReader systems as one. The tradeoff is that we will experience many new capabilities, and can only hope for future “best practices” in technologically advanced reader systems. Three “customers” are impacted by eReader technology: Writers concerned with marketing, publishers impacted by conversion and readers who want it all! Is the task of serving each equally simply a daunting task for developers?
I don’t expect my readership to be on the front side of this issue, but I certainly want to provide at least sufficient information to shed some light, lest they be left totally in the dark.
Happy writing! May you take yet another step today toward being highly compensated for sharing your knowledge and leaving your mark on the world!