iBooks: The Latest EPUB 3.0 Reader

  • Sumo

At PePcon 2012 last week, I kept hearing again and again that there were no EPUB 3.0 readers. While this was not true then (I used both Infogrid Pacific’s AZARDI reader and IDPF’s Readium to demo EPUB 3.0 files and capabilities in my “The Future of eBook Publishing: EPUB 3.0” with Liz Castro), it is even less true now.


Apple Now Officially Supports EPUB 3.0 in iBooks

On Tuesday, May 22, 2012, Apple sent out an email to its iTunes Connect mailing list that included the following paragraph:

EPUB 3 Support
iBooks and the iBookstore now support EPUB 3 for flowing books. EPUB 3 includes new features to enrich your book including the pop-up footnote functionality.

It seems that iBooks has actually supported EPUB 3.0 in some capacity since the introduction of iBooks 2 and iBooks Author in January according to The Digital Reader’s post “It’s Official: iBooks Now Supports Epub3.” The Digital Reader also reports that iBooks does not appear to fully support the EPUB 3.0 specification; it is having trouble rendering MathML and some functionality that has JavaScripting in it. Still, by officially adding EPUB 3 to its documentation for iBooks, Apple has stepped up as the first major eBook retailer to support the spec on their current reader.


Pop-Up Footnotes

Liz Castro also posted on an the second part of that announcement from Apple in her Pigs, Gourds, and Wikis post “Creating pop-up footnotes in EPUB 3 (and thus in iBooks)”: that’s right pop-up footnotes! Apple has gone ahead and figured out how to make pop-up footnotes work by associating the pop-up behavior with the epub:type="noteref" and epub:type="footnote" pair. As Castro details:

So, to make a pop-up footnote in EPUB 3 (which works in iBooks), you just have to create your footnote marker link as shown above, paying special care to include the epub:type="noteref" attribute/value pair. I’ll repeat it here for good measure:

epub:type="noteref" href="#n1">1


Next, create an aside element that contains the text that should appear in a pop-up display when the link is pressed.

The aside element must also have the epub:type="footnote" attribute/value pair to mark it as the footnote content as well as an id attribute that matches the value of the href attribute in your link.


< p>These have been corrected in this EPUB3 edition.


< /aside>

And in case you are not familiar with <aside>, it is new to HTML5.

Many of us working on eBooks creation have been hoping for functional pop-up footnotes for the past couple years. It is great to see that Apple has gone ahead and made it happen within the ePUB 3.0 specification instead of forking off in their own direction. Can pop-up indexes and glossaries be far behind?


We’re Number 2?

It is strange to me that Apple’s official announcement of its support of EPUB 3.0 in iBooks did not garner more attention in the publishing press. This is a potentially game-changing announcement. I am not sure why the other EPUB retailers are waiting to support EPUB 3.0, but I think they may have just put Apple in the driver’s seat when it comes to EPUB readers. This may well be a another step toward Apple wresting the title of #2 eBook retailer from Barnes & Noble.

Are you excited that iBooks now officially supports the EPUB 3.0 spec? What do you think of Apple’s pop-up footnotes? Do you think Apple will take the #2 eBook retailer position from Barnes & Noble?

5 Responses to “iBooks: The Latest EPUB 3.0 Reader”

  1. Erin says:

    It’s great that iBooks now supports the spec, but I don’t think this news is going to have as much impact on the retail of trade books as it will on Apple’s academic endeavours. They have made it very clear that they want to take over the textbook market, especially in the US, and I think that is why they are supporting the spec.

  2. […] dois outros programas de leitura que já suportam o formato (iBooks e AZARDI) e um bonus: a Apple anunciou aos desenvolvedores que começará a aceitá-los na sua iBookstore. Estes são sinais de que o mercado está mesmo […]

  3. […] announces iBooks supports EPUB3 on the […]

  4. andresw says:

    Hi, hyperlink within the pop-up note does not work. Why becouse?

  5. Frank Lowney says:

    “They (Apple) have made it very clear that they want to take over the textbook market,”
    Pearson, their subcontractor in the LAPSD fiasco, isn’t helping Apple realize this goal.