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Re: Minutes from EPUB.Next

From: Laurent Le Meur <laurent.lemeur@edrlab.org>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2021 10:21:09 +0200
Message-ID: <C5DB73C7-B172-4F74-AA1C-36D952F76BD4@edrlab.org>
CC: "PBG Steering Committee (Public)" <public-publishing-sc@w3.org>, W3C Publishing Business Group <public-publishingbg@w3.org>, "public-publishingcg@w3.org" <public-publishingcg@w3.org>, "public-epub3@w3.org" <public-epub3@w3.org>
To: Leonard Rosenthol <lrosenth@adobe.com>
Hi, my feedback on Leonard's comments. 

Replacing PDF is not a goal. Offering a better solution than PDF for ebooks, i.e. long reflowable publications, highly accessible for a low cost and optionally multimedia, is a goal. But we're not here to discuss PDF :-)

Leonard, you're saying that people are moving from PDF to the Web. This is forgetting that EPUB is THE ebook publication standard today, worldwide; so people may also move from EPUB to the Web. True, trillions of publications are on the Web. Can people read them with pagination? no. Read them using a 2-page spread? no. Change at will the font type, font size, line / word / character / paragraphe spacing? no. Remove justification or hyphenation? no. Choose a colour template outside the basic night mode? no. Enjoy pop-up footnotes? hardly. And to be nasty, can publishers impose copy protection on the Web? no. 

These features are not embedded in browsers, but readers need them, it seems. This is why we spend millions of hours developing reading systems for all platforms, in particular in the open-source Readium  <https://readium.org/development/projects>initiative.

EPUB is not a format tailored for online consumption. It is definitely a packaged format for "offline" reading. This is why the use of XHTML5 is not a real problem. XHTML5 corresponds well to production workflows in the publishing industry (and we found no real replacement for epub:type).  

Moving publications to the Web is possible with all bells and whistles described above; during the EPUB next call, Andrew Rhomberg from Jellybooks briefly talked about their online solution (Readium Web in its beta version <https://jbks.co/interactive-magazine>). It does the job perfectly. The W3C Publishing WG tried to create a W3C standard for Web Publications: the industry didn't take it so far (I have ideas about the reasons but this is another issue). So let's keep considering EPUB 3 as an "offline" standard.

The real problem we're facing with EPUB 3  is still interoperability. A fully compliant EPUB 3 may be accepted by a retailer, or not. It may be readable on an "EPUB 3" reading system, or not. We started working on this issue for EPUB 3.3, and we must continue because EPUB 3.3 alone does not solve the problem. Let's work on this problem with retailers.

Leonard, you're also saying that people don't know what an EPUB is. So true! There are marketing efforts required there. Let's all work on it and prove that EPUB 3 is the best ebook format.

That EPUB tooling is missing. So true! We see EPUB 3 publications exported from InDesign which have weird JS features and don't play well in Thorium Reader <https://www.edrlab.org/software/thorium-reader/>  and we hardly know how to solve this.  Let's solve this together. And let's develop EPUB 3 authoring tools optimized for reflow publications. 

That they don't have EPUB readers ... well sorry but I strongly disagree. There is a flurry of so called EPUB readers, but many are still compliant with EPUB 2 only, others are not embedding a modern OWP rendering engine, therefore many are disappointing. but we can't setup a certification constraint for reading apps. This is why good EPUB 3 SDKs are important (open-source like Readium or commercial like Colibrio). This is also why the epubtest.org <http://epubtest.org/> initiative is important and - if there were sufficient resources - should be re-extended to EPUB 3 compliance, not only accessibility. 

Some people in this group believe that the EPUB 3 reading app issue would be solved if browsers embed an EPUB reading app. I think this is only partly true. Most browsers embed a limited PDF reader, mostly used when users download a PDF from the Web. Adobe Acrobat is downloaded on every Windows PC and Preview is on every Mac. And Acrobat is also mandatory on Macs because many PDF cannot be rendered in the limited Preview app. In order to succeed, we therefore need EPUB 3 readers in browsers + as standalone desktop apps + as mobile apps. All free for users. Let's work on that also together. 

Best regards
Laurent Le Meur
EDRLab (edrlab.org <http://edrlab.org/>) 

> Le 28 oct. 2021 à 20:20, Leonard Rosenthol <lrosenth@adobe.com> a écrit :
> 
> Sorry I was unable to attend the meeting – too many other standards going on right now.   I did, however, have a chance to review the minutes – thanks to Tzviya for providing them.
>  
> Ignoring the incorrect information about PDF, its use as a document format and its ability to be made accessible (in compliance with national and international standards, including WCAG) – I did want to comment on the larger question about “Replacing PDF”
>  
> Andrew and Tzviya said it very well at the end of the meeting – people who are moving away from PDF for publications are moving to the web (aka HTML).  We’ve talked to many customers in many segments around the world on this particular topic.  What we learned is that they are choosing to do so for a variety of reasons including (but not limited to):
> - They know what the web is (and the corollary, they don’t know what EPUB is)
> - Everyone has a web browser (and the corollary, they don’t have EPUB Readers)
> - They already have tools that produce HTML (and the corollary, they don’t have EPUB tooling or don’t know how to use it)
> - They can easily update the material and ensure that recipients are always looking at the right thing.
>  
> So as mentioned by a number of folks – this group needs to figure out whether the goal is to provide a better reading/consumption experience “on the web” (aka in browser) *OR* to compete with PDF as a packaged format for “off the web” content distribution and consumption.   As others said – trying to do both isn’t working well for EPUB…
>  
> Leonard


Received on Friday, 29 October 2021 08:21:26 UTC

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