It’s Official: iBooks Now Supports Epub3

There still hasn't been a public announcement (nor has the app been updated), but yesterday Apple made it official. iBooks now supports the advanced formatting options, interactive features, and embedded content found in the new Epub3 book format.

This makes the app the first commercial commercial app to support the new format - only it doesn't, quite.

Apple sent out an email yesterday to the iTunes Connect mailing list. In what looks to be almost an afterthought, Apple told publishers and ebook creators about the change:

EPUB 3 Support
iBooks and the iBookstore now support EPUB 3 for flowing books. EPUB 3 includes new features to enrich your book including the pop-up footnote functionality.

This is good news, yes, but it's not quite true.

I spent yesterday evening playing with Epub3 demo files, and it turns out iBooks still doesn't completely support the new standard. Several of the demo files didn't work, including one which was supposed to include a quiz widget. iBooks also failed to display the MathML demo correctly; that is in fact one of the core requirements so if it doesn't work then the format arguably isn't supported.

The current Epub3 support dates all the way back to January, when Apple launched iBooks Author. I'm not sure it was ever mentioned outside of the digital publishing community, but techies have been playing with the new features for some months now. Apple neglected to mention it at the time, but the new iBooks 2 app was released with partial support for the new format.

In any case, this is still big news; by making it official Apple is going to encourage their competition to get off their duff and complete their own apps. It moves the sale of EPub 3 ebooks one step closer to reality, and that's a good thing.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

18 Comments

  1. SteveH23 May, 2012

    @Rebecca
    For some Pop-up note examples see Liz Castro’s blg post here:
    http://www.pigsgourdsandwikis.com/2012/05/creating-pop-up-footnotes-in-epub-3-and.html

    Reply
  2. Tom23 May, 2012

    I think it’s history repeating itself. Apple is doing to the epub standard what Amazon did to mobipocket: Embrace, extend and extinguish

    Reply
  3. fjtorres23 May, 2012

    Come on! Of course it supports ePub3! Apple said so, no?
    Who are you to say otherwise?
    Do you really want Apple to send Guido the enforcer to explain that epub3 is what *they* say it is? 😉

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder23 May, 2012

      Guido retired back in 2009. Apple replaced him with the FBI and SFPD.

      Reply
  4. Rebecca23 May, 2012

    I’d love to see some sample code implementing the pop-up footnotes. Seen any in the wild?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder23 May, 2012

      Scroll up. I linked to the IPDF’s collection of demo files in the post.

      Reply
  5. Paul Topping24 May, 2012

    They should be able to add MathML support to their ebook reader easily via MathJax. MathJax (www.mathjax.org) is an open source JavaScript engine for displaying MathML in all modern web browsers. It was founded by my company, Design Science, and the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). It is also supported by a long list of publishers and professional societies. MathJax has also joined forces with the IDPF’s Readium project (www.readium.org). Readium is an open source EPUB3 ebook reader. MathJax provides its MathML support. Apple could easily borrow from this work to add MathML support to their reader.

    Reply
  6. […] the introduction of iBooks 2 and iBooks Author in January according to The Digital Reader’s post “It’s Official: iBooks Now Supports Epub3.” The Digital Reader also reports that iBooks does not appear to fully support the EPUB 3.0 […]

    Reply
  7. […] notizia recente che Ibooks, l’applicazione di iOs per visualizzare ebook, supporta ufficialmente ePub3. Ma […]

    Reply
  8. […] opinión de Nate Hoffelder, del periódico The Digital Reader, si bien es cierto que se trata de la primera aplicación comercial compatible con el nuevo formato […]

    Reply
  9. […] letzter Woche ist es offiziell: Apple unterstützt EPUB3. Die Ankündigung erreichte bisher nur die Partner im iTunes-Connect-Programm, d.h. alle […]

    Reply
  10. Peter Brülls7 June, 2012

    Considering that WWDC is next week, iBooks.app’s last update is from April 16th, I think it’s not unreasonable to assume that this refers to a new version that’s to be released during the WWDC.

    I’d hold on a week before I’d waste time testing.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder7 June, 2012

      True, but this bit of news happened a couple weeks ago. And the limitations and abilities of iBooks had been worked out over a month ago.

      Reply
  11. R.S.Vern12 June, 2012

    Yes, it’s up! I’ve recently completed a graphic novel on epub3, comes with animation, sound bites, fixed layout. I think it’s great!

    Reply
  12. […] für iOS werden seit der Version 2 von Anfang diesen 2012 alle wesentlichen Features von EPUB 3 unterstützt – insofern wenig verwunderlich, da in iBooks bereits für ePub 2.0.1-Dateien einiges erlaubt war, […]

    Reply
  13. […] für iOS werden seit der Version 2 von Anfang diesen 2012 alle wesentlichen Features von EPUB 3 unterstützt – insofern wenig verwunderlich, da in iBooks bereits für ePub 2.0.1-Dateien einiges erlaubt war, […]

    Reply
  14. […] opinión de Nate Hoffelder, del periódico The Digital Reader, si bien es cierto que se trata de la primera aplicación comercial compatible con el nuevo formato […]

    Reply
  15. […] far, these companies support bits and pieces of EPUB 3 but full adoption is still […]

    Reply

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