The American Association of Publishers has just . They're launching a new project that intends to find a way for more publishers to adopt Epub3, the new ebook format that the IDPF finalized in October 2011:
The EPUB 3 Implementation Project is being developed in a partnership with retailers, digital content distributors, device makers, reading systems providers, assistive technology experts and standards organizations, with the support and engagement of leading advocates for people with disabilities.
The initiative’s goal is to accelerate the across-the-board adoption of the EPUB 3 format in the consumer market by identifying and implementing what stakeholders consider to be the core set of baseline features critical to the format’s acceptance. Among these features are greater interactivity for users, multimedia-enhanced content and expanded accessibility for people who are blind or have other print disabilities.
That sounds great and all, but there's an interesting corollary to this announcement that is less obvious but much more interesting. This kind of project would not be needed if Epub3 had already been widely implemented.
So it seems that I was completely correct when I wrote back in May that Epub3 was not ready. It has not yet been widely adopted by publishers, it's not yet widely available in the marketplace (other than in walled gardens like Inkling, iBooks, and Coursesmart), and it's still not easy to make.
I am not surprised.
But that's not the only story here. Go read the quoted section again, note that it says this project will:
accelerate the across-the-board adoption of the EPUB 3 format in the consumer market by identifying and implementing what stakeholders consider to be the core set of baseline features critical to the format’s acceptance
Basically that is an admission that the current Epub3 spec is so unbelievably complicated that it's simply impossible to get it widely implemented. Instead the AAP/IDPF are going to create an Epub3 Lite format (or Epub2.9 if you prefer) and use that as the new standard.
I have been saying since February that Epub3 is DOA, and I've had people telling me for months now that the Epub3 was unworkable because of its complexity.
And now the AAP/IDPF has more or less admitted that this is true.
It's a shame that the IDPF couldn't have figured that out back in October 2011; maybe they could have avoided 21 months of stalled adoption.