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Feedback on WP Spec from Kobo

From: Reid, Wendy <wendy.reid@rakuten.com>
Date: Thu, 3 May 2018 18:55:10 +0000
To: W3C Publishing Working Group <public-publ-wg@w3.org>
CC: "Dugas, Ben" <ben.dugas@rakuten.com>, "Xu, Zheng | KGB" <zheng.xu@rakuten.com>
Message-ID: <F148E72A-934C-4696-8CBD-4F107B2C49D0@rakuten.com>
Hi everyone,

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute. I apologise for the delay, in constructing this feedback we gathered opinions from a number of people within the company, and it look a long time to compile it all into one coherent document.

W3C Feedback for Web Publications

In response to the specifications proposed for Web Publications, we (Kobo) would like to highlight a few areas of feedback we hope to see the group address in future drafts. We don't think development of navigation in WebPub has gone off the rails but we would like to take a step back and consider one format and location that tells a reading system what's in the content, what order it should be presented in and and which items should appear in the TOC instead of spreading this information out across multiple files. If this discussion can't be done in WebPub can we table the discussion for EPUB4?

Compatibility and Production
As a retailer that deals primarily with publishers and their content, we know the challenges of both accepting a new specification and adopting it. Within our system, the expectation for most content is it's compatibility with as many devices and platforms as we can support. Our expectation for WP is that it is as compatible and convertible to other formats as possible. This is specifically important for our and our publishers' huge backlog of legacy EPUB2 content. This content needs to be easily converted to WP by publishers, and supported by us. The major concern for us in the current spec is around the proposals for the navigation documents adding a new separate navigation model on top of existing ones (NCX, nav, OPF).
WP presents a new challenge in publisher workflows and content creation. If WP diverges too far from EPUB2/EPUB3 models it could complicate the creation process. Additionally, it would present a new content type for conversion houses to offer, potentially increasing costs of production for ebooks.

In considering a new content type, as mentioned before, we need to consider what we will need to support and what platforms can do so. Our belief at Kobo is that we want our customers to be able to read their content however and wherever they choose. WP presents a challenge for us in supporting that. As a retailer and reading system provider, it's apparent to us that we will need to produce web applications to support WP (or extend existing ones), additionally, whatever features the WP spec requires of reading systems. These requirements may be such that our applications will need to override existing browser behaviour (for example, Firefox's reading mode currently disables some features for web content like highlighting).

WebPub and EPUB4
In our participation, we have noticed that the group has yet to have one conversation we feel is important to have, do we as a working group believe WP needs to be markedly different from EPUB? Can it potentially be a subsection of the requirements we introduce for EPUB4? That’s not to say we have a strong argument that WebPub should be a subsection of ePub4 but that we might not have yet proven through our use cases that a new format is required.
There seems to be an argument for introducing things to EPUB that would bring it in line with web standards, and we fully support advancing the spec to support technical standards today. There's value in an EPUB standard that works on a variety of platforms and reading systems.
There's additional value in modernizing the EPUB spec to support web, while still maintaining a standard publishers are already comfortable and familiar with. We need to remember, as a group of technically inclined publishers, retailers, and developers, that not all people affected by this are as comfortable with standards and change as we are. If we develop a spec that disadvantages smaller publishers or less technical publishers that do not have the resources to update, then we are not doing our jobs properly.

Please feel free to reach out to any of us with questions or concerns, and we’re looking forward to meeting everyone in May and discussing these things further!


The Kobo team (Wendy, Ben, and Jeff)
Received on Thursday, 3 May 2018 18:58:47 UTC

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