Should I have any longevity concerns about .epub files?
January 20, 2011 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Should I have any longevity concerns about .epub files?

For example, the University of Texas Digital Repository strongly encourages submissions in formats that have:

- open documentation

- support across a range of software platforms

- wide adoption

- no compression (or lossless compression)

- no embedded files or embedded programs/scripts

- non-proprietary specifications

It then recommends .pdf, .odt, .txt, and .xml as having many or all of these. It does not mention .epub - which I had thought was 6 for 6.

So: what are the odds that future e-readers will stop supporting that format - thus requiring .epub files to be converted to whatever is the standard then?

And - with the proviso that my .epub files were either DRM-free to begin with or... were made so - what are the odds that such a conversion would be difficult or impossible to perform at that time?
posted by Joe Beese to Technology (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: What are the odds that future e-readers will stop supporting .epub?
Extremely likely. The field is in no way stable. Publishers and consumers are demanding features and functionality in ebooks that epub can't support. Everyone wants one universal standard, but the epub of today is not it.

The good news is that epub is really just a zip file with HTML inside. As long as it's DRM-free, you should always be able to convert it to the latest flavor.
posted by libraryhead at 8:54 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're likely better off with .epub than with .mobi (or its Amazonian variant, .azw), since the world seems to be adopting it as the default 'standard' or at the very least the one usable on the most devices, in the same way MP3 came to be shorthand for "oh, you know, an audio file" and not WMA...

So from where I am in the trenches publishing ebooks right now, .epub looks to be your best bet, and personally, I'm kind of hoping Amazon will start using it, too, so we don't need to keep producing both file types -- a right old pain in the butt.

That said -- to play devil's advocate -- with Amazon's "Kindle for..." (Mac, Blackberry, etc), it's got wide adoption on its side, too. But in the end we'll have a tiny format war, the Steve Jobsians will defeat the Bezosians and .epub will reign supreme.
posted by at 8:59 AM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

.epub is just zipped-up XHTML, so even if things stop supporting it, it will always be easy to get the info out and put them in a new format.
posted by james.nvc at 9:02 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

And as for why they don't mention it, my guess would be because not that many people have software to create or even read epub, as opposed to all the other text-formats mentioned.

epub has only been really popular for the last year or so, and I still find a lot of people that have never heard of it.
posted by domi_p at 1:58 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

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