ePub Does Not Mean eBook

I am a designer. I am an artist. I am an aspiring actor. But I am not tech savvy. Learning new computer programs is a challenge to say the least, yet by an odd turn of events I have found myself in New York City starting a tech company through DreamiT ventures and Startl. This opportunity has required me, in all of my incompetence, to learn ePub development. I read through all the blogs and books you’re supposed to, written by the two master’s of .ePub for the masses – Liza Daley and Liz Castro – but even then I still needed to learn through experience. Though there have been many struggles and are bound to be many more, I am beginning to understand the potential of ePub, functionality that has too long been handicapped by its association with the book. For those of you who haven’t the faintest idea of what an ePub is, hang-on, we are about to establish a new school of thought.

epubBlog defines ePubs as “an electronic book format that has become the industry standard, allowing eBooks that use this format to be read on a wide variety of eReaders.”

If that doesn’t make you jump up and down with excitement than I don’t know what will. If I have learned anything about selling people on an idea in these last two months, it is that language is everything. ePub is actually a really cool format, but if we continue to contextualize it as an eBook, the promise of this format will be constrained.

An ePub is not a book. It is the love child of html and pdf, allowing the functionality of html5 with the ubiquity of pdf. Basically, ePub is the file format that will allow you to embed Lady Gaga’s Poker Face, Charlie Bit My Finger, and the Mona Lisa into that screenplay that you have been waiting to produce. That is pretty freaking cool. We may not realize it, but this is something we have all been waiting for. It is the next logical step in content management and is about to blow up. As great as books are, ePub is something else; a new art form perhaps.

Lets break down “the book” for a moment. Books are comprised of chapters, chapters of sentences, and sentences of words that are signifiers of an author’s ideas. When one reads they are consenting to think with the author in a prescribed manner. There can be no doubt that this format works; however, it is only one of many languages for the translation of ideas (which can take a number of forms). Video, audio, and images serve the same purpose, but the advent of the Internet allows us to consume all in the same space. That is what ePub is.

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4 thoughts on “ePub Does Not Mean eBook

  1. i’m a poet. and a programmer.

    i’m not an actor, aspiring or otherwise,
    and i don’t even play one on t.v.

    but i’ve been studying e-books for about
    30 years now.

    and i can tell you that .epub is a crap format.

    .epub is obtuse, and unnecessarily complicated,
    which is not surprising when you consider that
    it was developed by the print-book industry
    — take a good look at the roster of the i.d.p.f. —
    which knows less-than-nothing about e-books,
    and has long had an agenda to stall the revolution
    so as to maintain the ring of their cash-registers…

    yes, you read me correctly. they actively _want_
    e-books to fail, and for most of the last decade,
    which is how long that format has been around,
    they got their way. only recently has it changed,
    because of amazon, and not “the .epub standard”.

    .epub can scarcely be called “a standard” at all,
    considering all of the incompatibilities that exist
    in its viewer-apps, which are not just inconsistent
    between themselves, but even fail to implement
    the format correctly, sometimes on things which
    are so fundamentally basic that it is _laughable_.

    meanwhile, we have to chop up our books into
    300k chunks, so as to pander to the most inferior
    of these weak so-called viewer-programs. it is
    sad to the point of tragic how retarded this all is.

    and the independent author still lacks a range of
    decent .epub authoring-tools, because the i.d.p.f.
    doesn’t _want_ to empower any indy competitors.

    i understand what you are _trying_ to say here:
    that we have new tools and a new environment
    which allow us to tell stories in a totally new way.

    and yes, i agree that that is exciting, even if i am
    knowledgeable enough to know that the “old way”
    of telling stories worked fine for us for millennia,
    and experienced enough to know that we still don’t
    know how to actually _use_ these new methods…

    the thing is, we won’t ever _learn_ how to utilize
    and develop the new methods if we are confused
    about the role of the carton in which we wrap them.

    you’re new. you’ll learn.

    -bowerbird

  2. I am an actor and a rapper.

    I’ve known about the existence of EPUB for about one year now and am thrilled to have seen it evolve in that time. But you’re right – we’re new. That’s why we’re called newquill and not oldquill. And we’re willing to learn. Which is why we’re responding.

    Since Bill McCoy has taken over the IDPF monumental change has happened. He came into our office here in New York and sat down with us for several hours and encouraged us to continue the work we’re doing to “explode” EPUB and the idea of the eBook. Believe me when I tell you that he is passionate about making .ePub an international standard that is both easy to use and slick.

    And speaking of slick – EPUB is not the same as EPUB3. What you’ve been dealing with IS complicated and difficult to create. We’ve been working on it for the last year – it’s not always fun. But EPUB3 combines HTML5 and Java Script to make the book interactive. newquill is about new media – which is really just a sub-set of the book in the 21st century. We’ll work with whatever we need to in order to make communication and ideas more widely shared in a variety of ways.

    Since you reached our blog through Craig Mod’s post, I’ll use his thoughts to support our own: http://craigmod.com/journal/post_artifact/

    “EPUB3 seems to hold the most promise for constructing hooks beyond the reading space (outside of the Kindle or iBooks or Nook). Particularly so in the book space.”

    “EPUB3 is, at least for the next week or so, a blessedly empty canvas.”

    So is newquill. newquill is all about interactivity and experience – that’s why we like EPUB3.

    I haven’t been making EPUBs for thirty years, but I’ve been playing video games for twenty. That is the space I know, and I’ll side with the Supreme Court of the United States when they say that video games are the best form of literature because they are the most interactive: https://newquill.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/inspirations-for-newquill-new-media-literacies-judgment/

    Do .mobis allow for interactivity and video game embeds? No. EPUB3 does – which is why we love it.

    We appreciate your comment – it shows passion and commitment to seeing progress in storytelling. We’re with you. So we want to invite you, bowerbird, to be our first official beta tester when newquill has its full functionality.

    We are learning new things everyday – I think we’re in one of the most exciting spaces in technology right now. Thanks for reminding us why we do it.

    Michael Morgan
    CEO of newquill

  3. michael said:
    > I’ve known about the existence
    > of EPUB for about one year now
    > and am thrilled to have seen it
    > evolve in that time.

    perhaps you will recognize the irony
    when i reveal that, as far as i can see,
    the adobe “digital editions” .epub app
    has not been updated in the past year.

    you grok the notion of futility, right?

    > we’re willing to learn.
    > Which is why we’re responding.

    believe me, i respect your guts
    for letting me speak my mind…

    it takes a pretty smart person to
    know that just because someone
    disagrees with what you’ve said,
    it doesn’t mean they’re an enemy.

    i sincerely wish you the best of luck.

    and i say that as someone who has
    been progrmaming authoring-tools
    for creative pursuits for a long time.

    > Since Bill McCoy has taken over the IDPF
    > monumental change has happened.

    well, again, _you_ might believe that.
    but i see more of the same old thing.

    you do know bill worked for adobe,
    before he got this i.d.p.f. gig, right?

    and he wasn’t big enough to let my
    comments stay up on _his_ blog…
    so i don’t really respect him much.

    but that’s beside the point.

    the point is that the i.d.p.f. is full of
    some of the richest corporations in
    the whole world, but yet they don’t
    seem to be the least bit interested in
    creating authoring-tools themselves.

    they’re sponging off people like you…

    did it ever occur to you to ask why?

    > He came into our office here in New York
    > and sat down with us for several hours and
    > encouraged us to continue the work we’re doing
    > to “explode” EPUB and the idea of the eBook.

    like i said, you might wanna ask why…

    or maybe you’re just hoping that they will
    throw you a few bones. more power to ya.

    > Believe me when I tell you that he is
    > passionate about making .ePub
    > an international standard
    > that is both easy to use and slick.

    well, you know, if _you_ wanna believe that…

    but, um, no, i will not believe you, actually.
    there’s no payoff for the publishers for them
    to make it easy for authors to be competitive.
    it will only hasten their demise as dinosaurs…

    > And speaking of slick –
    > EPUB is not the same as EPUB3.

    .epub3 is just the layering on of new complexity,
    as the old complexity was starting to wear out…

    as demonstrated by the fact that e-books are
    now outselling p-books over at amazon.com…

    so they’re adding in some video f.u.d. now too…

    > What you’ve been dealing with
    > IS complicated and difficult to create.

    i think you’re a wee bit confused.

    _i_ understand the .epub thing just fine.

    fine enough to write an authoring-tool
    for it, one that ordinary people can use.

    and i coulda released it years ago, except
    i didn’t want to give .epub any momentum.

    but once apple did — to spite amazon —
    i lost hope we could nip .epub in the bud.

    plus once self-publishers starting making
    _big_ money — a la amanda hocking —
    i decided it was time to put out my app…

    once the dinosaurs die and go to hell, it will
    be easier to replace their devilish “standard”.

    > We’ve been working on it for the last year
    > – it’s not always fun.

    i believe you, but man, is that ever sad!

    i’ve had a _blast_ working on e-books
    over the past 30 years, one big blast…

    but you know what’s fun? exploring the
    newest potentials that can be brought out.
    _not_ trying to figure out an obtuse format.
    a format is maybe the least-important thing!
    (often the issue of establishing a “standard”
    boils down to which corporation will receive
    a big paycheck because their format “won”.)

    the format is just the box in which the surprise
    gets packed… you must not confuse the two…

    > But EPUB3 combines HTML5 and Java Script
    > to make the book interactive.

    oh please. you don’t need html5 or javascript to
    “make the book interactive”. i was doing all that
    15 years ago, on an old mac ii running system 7.

    and with quicktime it ran audio and video just fine,
    so it’s not like that’s some new development either.

    since you’re a gamer, you musta played “myst”, eh?
    did its creators need .epub3? of course they didn’t.

    i mean, i’m glad you feel that you’ve got some tools
    that will make it easier for you to do what you want,
    but i can tell you from experience that until people
    actually get the creative explosions that make them
    feel a _desire_ for your tools, it won’t mean a thing…

    > Since you reached our blog through Craig Mod’s post,
    > I’ll use his thoughts to support our own:

    probably not a good idea, since craig is
    just as confused as you, probably more.

    i would be more impressed if you had
    _differences_ with him, since at least
    that would mean that you constituted
    a second blind man feeling the elephant.

    but the proof is in the pudding, man…

    so put out your tool, and if people use it
    for creative purposes, and audiences dig
    what happens, that’s all that really matters.

    then you can laugh at this cranky old man,
    and tell me how wrong i was, and i will be
    the first person to laugh with you and agree.

    > “EPUB3 is, at least for the next week or so,
    > a blessedly empty canvas.”

    if you want a truly “empty canvas”,
    explore the light-markup universe.

    that’s where the real progress will be,
    because plain-text is the most agile…

    > We appreciate your comment – it shows
    > passion and commitment to seeing progress

    and i appreciate your sharp clear-eyed vision
    in making that level-headed determination…

    > So we want to invite you, bowerbird,
    > to be our first official beta tester
    > when newquill has its full functionality.

    i’ve looked at everything that has come out
    in the last 30 years, so i don’t need an invite,
    but i appreciate the personal friendly nature.

    and i’ll be happy to give you honest feedback;
    then again, you likely had no doubt of that. :+)

    and if you’d be willing to beta-test my stuff,
    i would appreciate your honest feedback too.

    you can reach me at bowerbird at aol dot com.
    that’s how old school i be.

    -bowerbird

    • Bowerbird we’re coming back home to Los Angeles at the end of August and we’d love to sit down with you and soak up some wisdom along with some sunny rays. You

      HEY – WORLD! I checked out bowerbird’s awesome publishing tool: http://jaguarps.com/

      You should, too!

      BOWERBIRD = GREATEST. DUDE. EVER.

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