How to Get an Epub3 eBook on the Market – June 2013 Edition

epub3-logo[1]If you've been following the publishing news of late then you've probably heard plenty about how great and wonderful Epub3 ebook format is. It slices, it dices, and it even makes Stephen Fries.

But if you're like me then you could be lacking any real info on the how, the where, and the who of making Epub3 ebooks and distributing them. That's why I took time today to go around to various booths at BEA 2013 and ask which of the conversion and distribution services are currently handling EPub3.

Update: Bill McCoy has reminded me that there is an existing spreadsheet that shows which ebook platform supports which Epub3 feature. It's maintained by the BISG and can be found here.

I may have missed a name or two, so feel free to mention them in the comments.

Vook

This 4 year old company has long since pivoted away from publishing enhanced ebooks and is now a production and distribution service. Vook currently distributes ebooks to all the major ebookstores, but their Epub3 distribution is limited to iBooks, Samsung Reader Hub, and Sony Reader Store. Vook also supports the Kindle Store, though it is not clear just how many features are supported.

Aquafadas

Like Vook, Aquafadas is an ebook production and distribution service. I don't think I was able to get a complete list of where they can distribute Epub3 but I was told that the list includes iBooks and the Kindle Store (more on this later).

AerBook

This service boasts of making an Epub3 picture book for KF8 and iBooks. It also lets you make Epub and other formats but does not support distribution.

Flipick

This is a relatively new distributor that launched back in January, They can take an InDesign file and convert it to a fixed layout Epub3 which can be sold in iBooks, the Kindle Store, and (coming soon) the Sony Reader Store.

Circular Flo

I don't have as much info on this company as on the others, but I do know that it offers an InDesign to fixed layout Epub3 conversion service. They boast that their output will work in iBooks, and the Kindle Store.

Inkling

This textbook distributor supports Epub3 in their own platform and offers their own ebook creation tool, Inkling Habitat. It's not completely clear whether your Epub3 ebook will be sold as Epub3 or as Inkling's own Epub3-ish format. I'm not sure it matters, though.

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Footnotes:

1. If you're wondering why the Kindle Store is mentioned in a post about Epub3, it's because that's how several of the services talked about KF8 and Epub3.  The formats are not exactly interchangeable but apparently the conversion services feel that if you produce one you might as well produce the other.

2. The complete list of ebookstores that I can confirm as selling Epub3 include:

  • O'Reilly
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • iBooks
  • Gumroad (a marketplace, not an ebookstore, but you can sell your own EPub3 here)
  • Kindle Store (Amazon supports conversion from Epub3 to KF8 - check out KindleGen support docs for more info)

3. Naturally this info is only as complete as my current knowledge, so I would deeply appreciate any help in expanding this list.

15 thoughts on “How to Get an Epub3 eBook on the Market – June 2013 Edition

  1. I think you got all the stores – perhaps a bigger question are what *devices* support ePub3? Especially for those of us who have (and love) our older eReaders, ePub3 is poorly supported at best. I did a test (linked as my website above) between my nook Touch, my old Sony Reader (pocket edition) and my iBooks app, and found that the test book (The Wasteland) was nigh-unreadable on some of them.

    So even if you can get the book on the stores… well, I want my readers to be able to read the book consistently across devices.

      1. Nate,
        “how, the where, and the who”
        We are included in all that quote. +10 years working on w3c standards, solid knowledge of css3+html5+js, from Buenos Aires City, we produce epub3 (IDPF valid).
        We even go through crossplatoform processes to check eInk devices also can provide a successfull experience when reading content we develop.
        For people who don’t want to or can’t upload content to distributors, we also provide a solution to them.
        If you need any statistic from this latitudes from books published, will be glad to share that.

  2. Great start at a list of tools that support EPUB 3 and I look forward to the expanded list. You are missing a number. InDesign (EPUB 3 export was in CS6 and improved significantly in the new CC version), Aerbook, XQuire, Newgen Silk, Metrodigi Chaucer, Wundrbooks.com – to name a few. This is just “packaged” tools or services, excluding conversion service providers and custom content developers as well as publishers with significant in-house tooling and workflows support EPUB 3. Vibal Publishers in the Philippines is just one of the examples featured at the IDPF conference earlier this week. This also excludes tools available mainly outside the US, for example in Japan eBookstores like Kobo’s are already EPUB 3 only, and a variety of tools are being used to create that content, some of which are in turn applicable to conversion from legacy formats and workflows that aren’t necessarily US-relevant.

    Re: eBookStores and apps, you probably don’t want to duplicate the BISG EPUB 3 Support Grid at http://www.bisg.org/what-we-do-12-152-epub-30-support-grid.php. Like HTML5 support in browers, EPUB 3 support is not a binary yes/no but more about to what degree a collection of capabilities are supported by different reading systems. I.e. this grid is a bit like “caniuse” (and a more fine-grained and data-driven EPUB 3 reading system conformance test suite is under development, see: https://github.com/mgylling/epub-testsuite ) . In fact even Adobe’s current RMSDK implementation, which is considered EPUB 2 only, supports some important EPUB 3 functionality: support for Japanese vertical writing.

    1. Tools are great and all but I think it’s more important to get the content into the market. That’s why I started where I did. This is also why I am leaving out some possibilities like Coursesmart and Vitalsource; it’s not clear that they accept outside content.

      And thank you for reminding me about that spreadsheet; it reminded me that I had forgotten Inkling (whoops).

  3. Nate – actually you and I both forgot the biggest of them all: Amazon!

    KindleGen as of version 2.8 (released back in February) officially supports EPUB 3 content as noted in its release notes. And my understanding is that some KF8 features can only be utilized if you start with EPUB 3 input, i.e. you can’t get them from EPUB 2 content. So one could say that EPUB 3 is not only being supported but even being preferred by Amazon.

    1. Actually, I think the option would need to be phrased as tool+KindleGen. You have to make an Epub3 first.

      Another good alternative would be tool+Gumroad. This is a minimalist marketplace service which can be used to sell all types of content including Epub3.

      But first we would need to name a tool.

  4. Nate – right I was thinking of Amazon belonging on your list of “bookstores selling EPUB 3″ since Kindlegen is the main on-ramp to Kindle Store. Perhaps with an asterisk since the files they distribute aren’t EPUB 3, but the point is that they have moved on from EPUB 2 only ingestion to also ingesting (even preferring) EPUB 3. And some other bookstores ingest EPUB and then send out something else to consumers – Safari Books Online and Google Play for example primarily distribute online content views in browers. So Amazon’s “distributed” support of EPUB 3 isn’t all that different than theirs (and BTW Google Play belongs on the list too – and as of last month you can sideload your own EPUB files, including EPUB 3, into your Google Play Books library)

  5. Oh, and is there a reason you are still leaving out the most widely used publishing tool – InDesign? As I noted in earlier comment CC has significant enhancements in EPUB export including EPUB 3 (reflowable). Or if you intended to limit your enumeration of EPUB 3 supporting tools to those doing fixed-layout, or some other criteria, then I think you should make that explicit. There’s a whole lot to EPUB 3 and its HTML5 underpinnings that’s not about fixed-layout.

      1. Well you do say “conversion and distribution services” but I don’t believe Flipick for example does any distribution at all, they generate an EPUB 3 file and leave the rest to you. So if Flipick fit’s your list so it would seem should InDesign CS6 & CC which also generate EPUB 3 files. And Flipick aren’t a “service” they are an InDesign plug-in, like Aquafadas as well. Maybe I’m just being pedantic here and it’s great to feature the innovative new entrants but I don’t get your logic of excluding folks if you are trying to list everyone already supporting EPUB 3. As well in general “making” content and “distributing” content will often be done by different tools.

  6. I’m working for a German company that produces epubs for most german publishers. We are lightyears away from producing EPUB3 epubs. But not because we can’t or we don’t want to. In fact we would love to produce better epubs. The reason is that most publishers still want epubs that are compatible with KF7.

    1. The thing about producing Epub3 and Epub is that it’s not an either/or proposition. You can do both in a single file.

      A number of publishers have designed their Epub3 output so it is backwards compatible with existing EPub devices. Hachette announced this as a goal last week, and O’Reilly finished a similar initiative earlier this year.

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