EPUB 3 Best Practices – A solid guide to the EPUB digital publishing process – #bookreview

EPUB 3 Best Practices
Matt Garrish and Marcus Gylling
(O’Reilly – paperback, Kindle)

If you publish ebooks and other documents or hope to publish some soon, you definitely need to be aware of EPUB 3.

“EPUB is a format for representing documents in electronic form,” the two authors of EPUB 3 Best Practices point out. “Ebook, on the other hand, is just an abstract term used to encompass any electronic representation of a book, including formats such as PDF, HTML, ASCII text, Word, and a host of others, in addition to EPUB.”

They add: “EPUB is designed to be a general-purpose document format, and it can be used to represent many kinds of publications other than books: from magazines to newspapers to journals, and on through office documents and policies and beyond.”

This 345-page, 11-chapter book is not a digital publishing how-to guide that you can zip through in a weekend. Indeed, its contents are, by nature, a bit dense. But Garrish and Gylling do a fine job of explaining and illustrating each key aspect of EPUB. And their book contains essential information that you will need to know — or at least be aware of — if you intend to be a serious publisher of online publications.

You can, after all, hire the services of an EPUB consultant to help you with the technical details. Yet, it can be very beneficial to have a good sense of what you will be paying to have done.

Likewise, you should consider this book if you are thinking of becoming an EPUB consultant. The two authors are EPUB experts;  Gylling, in fact, led the development of the EPUB 3 specification.

“On a practical level,” they note, “EPUB defines both the format for your content and how reading systems go about discovering it and rendering it to readers….” And: “One of the most common misconceptions about EPUB is that its a ‘flavor’ of XML. (‘Should I use EPUB or DocBook?’ or, even worse, ‘Should I use EPUB or HTML5?’ Hint: EPUB (pretty much) = HTML5.)”

If you have little or no experience with EPUB, you may want to check out two ebooks–both free–before diving into EPUB 3 Best Practices. Those books are: What is EPUB 3?  and Accessible EPUB 3.

Si Dunn


  • Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, photojournalist, and book reviewer. His published books include: DARK SIGNALS, a Vietnam War memoir; ERWIN'S LAW, a private-detective novel; and JUMP, a novella about a combat veteran suffering from PTSD and alienation while trying to work for newspapers as a journalist. Several of his feature screenplays recently were under option to movie producers. He spent nearly 15 years working as a technical writer and software tester in the telecommunications industry. His current programming interests include Go, JavaScript, Python, R, Angular, and other languages and frameworks. He is a U.S. Navy veteran and a graduate of the University of North Texas.

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