Ebook, e-book, eBook: Toward a Fulsome #eprdctn Terminology

  • Sumo

Editor’s Note: Ebook, e-book, or eBook? I’m certainly guilty of using the latter. Today’s guest post from Laura Brady looks at the words and acronyms we use (and shouldn’t use).

The ePub world is full of confusing lingo that developers flippantly toss off like we’ve been working in this space for decades. The truth is the ebook world is very new and, as such, naming conventions are still in flux. In this article I will attempt some consensus on the words we use to describe our work with a view to working toward some standards.


Iris Amelia kicked off the conversation with a relatively innocent question on Twitter on April 9. So let’s deal with this one head on: ebook is a word that requires no special treatment – no hyphenation, no camel case. Ebook requires no special capitalization except at the start of a sentence. It is a well-established word. I cite the fact that I was able to use it in a Scrabble game as irrefutable proof. That said, Amazon still camel-cases the word, which I understand is confusing, but please resist their example.

On other bits of an ebook developer’s terminology, I am a little less certain but will hazard a primer here nonetheless. Please feel free to engage in the comments section.

ADE Adobe Digital Editions; see here
DPS Adobe’s proprietary Digital Publishing Suite; refers to the format
DRM digital rights management
EDUPUB an IDPF initiative to build educational and textbook publishing standards
EEB enhanced ebook format; see here. I suspect this is a primarily an in-house term specific to HarperCollins
eink referring to non-tablet ereading devices
eprdctn e-production, referring specifically to the Twitter community
EPUB proprietary ebook format name
EPUB2 First generation ebook specification, developed by the IDPF
EPUB3 Current version of IDPF’s specification
FXL fixed-layout ebook
iBA iBooks Author
iBooks the iOS library management app
ID Adobe InDesign
IDPF International Digital Publishing Forum, a trade and standards organization for the digital publishing industry
iOS the operating system of Apple mobile devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod)
KF8-FXL Amazon’s unique fixed-layout code
KF8 next gen Amazon ebook code
MathML a specification o describing use of mathematical expressions
MOBI Amazon’s proprietary ebook format
MOBI7 Kindle code pre-Kindle Fire/Paperwhite family of devices
multi-touch ebook an iTunes naming convention for iBooks Author ebooks
PDF Adobe branded portable document format; non-reflowable print replica format
QA quality assurance; refers to the  process of proofing a digital product on device
QC a QA alt; some in-house conventions refer to QA, some to QC
reflowable reflowable ePub
SMIL Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language, referring to the markup language used to delineate media overlays
SVG Scalable Vector Graphics


Some notes

The following terms are not real, don’t use them:

  • eISBN
  • eMOBI
  • iBook (referring to an ebook)
  • Flepub (referring to fixed-layout epub)
  • Fixed-format (referring to fixed-layout epub)

What did I miss? What did I get wrong? Let’s hammer this out and get a set of clear conventions for this confusing #eprdctn world.

The author

Laura Brady is principal at Brady Type, a full-service book design studio specializing in ebook development, custom training, and general publishing problem solving. She is also one of the architects of the annual ebookcraft conference. She is leading a workshop on fixed-layout ebook development at PePcon in June. You can find her at @LauraB7.

13 Responses to “Ebook, e-book, eBook: Toward a Fulsome #eprdctn Terminology”

  1. Fantastic article! Great to have this info all in one place. However, I take exception to the EPUB (ePub) references. I believe that the trademarked term is “EPUB” (all caps). EPUB is what the IDPF uses in the specifications and elsewhere on their website .. except in the logo, which is “ePUB”. This would also apply to EPUB2 and EPUB3 (although I’m never sure if there should be a space or not).

  2. Laura Brady says:

    You are correct, Scott. We’ve amended the article to reflect your comment.

  3. Naomi says:

    Technically you should be careful with the term “eink”. It’s actually a proprietary term for a specific manufacturer, there are black and white devices that don’t use eInk technology.

    Not going to stop us casually referring to all B&W screens as eink though!

  4. Hello,

    one reason why I use the hyphen in ‘e-book’ is because I can’t avoid it in ‘e-reader’. Using it in both seems tidier to me.

  5. Why not lose the hyphen in ereader as well? You know it’ll happen eventually. Just bite the bullet and do it now!

  6. After I posted this comment I compared Goggle results of ‘e-reader’ vs. ‘ereader’. Surprisingly, there is no much difference: 18m for the former, 16m for the latter. So yes, we can say goodbye to the hyphen 🙂

  7. Kevin says:

    not that we should pay attention to old fogey style guides, but: Webster prefers e-book. as does Encyclopedia Britannica; Chicago Manual of Style

  8. Laura Brady says:

    This is true, but I think this is the case of a proprietary word that’s come into the language. I hereby appropriate eink for general usage. *plants flag*

  9. Laura Brady says:

    I earnestly believe it’s just a matter of time before the dictionaries come around on dropping the hyphen. I think the OED still hyphenates email, and that is certainly not reflective of general usage.

  10. Apple uses the term “Multi-Touch books” (this could be new, as they somewhat recently updated their iBooks branding guidelines)


  11. Jorge says:

    IDPF uses not EPUB2 or EPUB3, but EPUB 2 and EPUB 3, so that is what I use too.

  12. I agree, the hyphen is on its way out.

  13. I noticed in recent versions of the Apple iBooks guidelines that they refer to reflowable epubs as “Flowing books.” I kind of like the Zen aspect of that.

    When they mention “EPUB” which they do quite a bit, it’s always all caps and refers to the file format specifically, as in “flowing book EPUB files” or “EPUB 3 Flowing books.” Also the other kinds are “Fixed Layout books” and “Multi-Touch books.”

    Nary an ebook to be found. It’s all books.