EPUB3: The Turn to a Universal E-book Format

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!


I read with great interest and joy the post on the Digital Book World website that there is a consortium of publishers working through the AAP to make EPUB3 the universal format for e-book file delivery to distribution. To this I say, “Hallelujah!”


This move toward a universal format will make the CMS (Content Management System) and Dam (Digital Asset Management system) much more streamlined and compact. Right now, publishers have to finalize e-book files based on the constraints of the final distributor (the file identifier and formats are dictated to publishers by the final portal). This leaves publishers with archives of files that have various and different naming conventions that take up an inordinately large amount of space on their servers.

You may ask the question, “Why would publishers have that many sets of files archived?” There could be errors in transmission to the final sales portal, there could be slight revisions that need to be made and rather than doing the revisions in the master files and re-sending to each and every vendor, the files are individually corrected for dissemination. Each publisher handles this variation in different ways. Clean-up on file archives is a long and laborious process that cannot be done completely with automation. You don’t want to have the good files wiped clean with the previous incarnations. So in effect, files stay on servers until manpower dictates a more thorough review of what constitutes final product can be conducted.

Bottom-line: Making one format the law of the land will help publishers internally build digital platforms that are more efficient and cost-effective in getting final product to their customer base. This can only be a win/win for publishers/distributors and the buying public who will get a format that is acceptable on any and all reading devices. This last point is a key. If Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple adopt the EPUB 3 format as the file transmission of choice, then a huge glut in the transmission process is alleviated and the prices may see a reduction due to the simplification of the formatting and transmission process. Man-hours will be cut out of the process in separate reviews on different staging platforms, and the “one-size fits all” will cut costs all along the distribution pipeline.

In effect, going with BLU-RAY in (this case EPUB3) will cause a ripple effect within the publishing world that could see book sales rocket into the heavens the next few years. Also, since we know that all format types are symbiotic in nature in the marketing process, the e-book renaissance would also impact sales of audiobooks, and print books as well. The rising tide will float all boats and ensure that the profits recouped from this change in process will be noteworthy and far-reaching. With the reductions in costs that publishers will see due to streamlined delivery processes, and the increased revenues that they will see due to the much easier transmission of format to devices, we may see an increase and improvement in the content that is released to the public as well. Wouldn’t that be a big kick: If you could get books where you want, when you want, on a device of your choosing through the portal that you want to use, AND the quality of the content is much better due to more $$ available for royalties to authors who can actually put words into sentences? I think the answer will be: PRICELESS!!

Some distributors are concerned that EPUB3 may be the start of a crumbling of “Garden Walls” between themselves and their customers. To this I say: “Mr. Distributor, Tear Down This Wall!”

Publishing like it Oughta Be!  (Homage to the ’86 Mets!)



Follow me on Twitter at:  Donald Schmidt@thebookkahuna


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