EPUB, short for Electronic Publication, is an open e-book standard that was developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) in 2007. EPUB was created to address the need for a universal format that could be used by publishers, authors, and readers alike. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history of EPUB and how it became the standard format for e-books.
Early E-Book Formats
The first e-book formats were developed in the 1990s, and they were primarily proprietary and incompatible with one another. For example, Amazon’s proprietary AZW format was only readable on Amazon’s Kindle devices. Other formats, like Microsoft’s LIT format, were only compatible with certain software applications. This lack of standardization made it difficult for publishers and readers to adopt e-books on a large scale.
The Origins of EPUB
In 2004, the Open eBook Forum (OEBF) was formed to develop a standardized format for e-books. This forum later became the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). The goal of the OEBF was to create an open, standardized format that could be used by anyone in the industry.
The first version of the EPUB format, EPUB 1.0, was released in 2007. It was based on the Open eBook standard, and it was designed to be a flexible and adaptable format that could be used by publishers of all sizes.
EPUB 2.0 and the Rise of E-Readers
EPUB 2.0 was released in 2009, and it included several new features that were designed to improve the reading experience on e-readers. This version of the format introduced support for images, audio, and video, as well as the ability to embed fonts and create interactive elements within e-books. EPUB 2.0 became the standard format for e-books, and it was widely adopted by publishers and e-readers alike.
EPUB 3.0 and Beyond
EPUB 3.0 was released in 2011, and it included several new features that were designed to improve the accessibility and interactivity of e-books. This version of the format introduced support for HTML5 and CSS3, as well as the ability to include MathML and other complex structures within e-books. EPUB 3.0 was designed to be a more flexible and adaptable format that could be used for a wider range of e-books.
The Future of EPUB
In 2017, the IDPF merged with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and EPUB became an official W3C standard. This merger was designed to ensure that the EPUB format remains an open and accessible standard that can be used by anyone in the industry.
The latest version of the format, EPUB 3.2, was released in 2019. This version of the format includes several new features that are designed to improve the accessibility and interactivity of e-books. EPUB 3.2 is currently the most widely used version of the format, and it is compatible with a wide range of e-readers and software applications.