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What is EPUB3?

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Technology is advancing at a rapid pace that is sometimes hard to follow. First generation of digital books was text only and was good enough for fiction books or books that contained only text. This is similar to websites that in the beginning contained mainly text and few pictures.

Publishers today are looking to put more and more media types in digital books, more images, sound, animation mathematical formulas etc. This created the need to a new standard of digital books. The IDPF that created the EPUB standard published the EPUB3 standard. Although it has many similarities and is somewhat backword compatible to the previous EPUB2 standard, it is a completly new standard.


What is so special about this standard?

This is only the hightlights, the inner structure of the standard is much more advanced then the previous one.


The new standard was approved by the IDPF in October 2011 that means about a year before this article is written. However although the standard is about a year old, most readers, both software only and hardware based reader, still does not fully support the standard.

Helicon books is one of the first companies to have a fully working EPUB3 reading software. Currently for the Android operating system and soon also for apple's iOS (operating system used in iPad and iPhone).

As the table below shows, Helicon books reader is the first to support all the advanced features:

Reader name Operating system  EPUB2   EPUB3   MathML   HTML5 & CSS3   JavaScript   Media overlay
 (speak aloud)
Helicon Books reader      Android icon      
Blue fire reader Android icon      IOS icon × × × × ×
iBooks  IOS icon × ×
Aldiko Android icon × × × × ×
Coolreader Android icon × × × × ×
Sony reader apps Android icon × × × × ×
Fbreader Android icon × × × × ×
Nook apps Android icon      IOS icon × × × × ×
Lektz Android icon      IOS icon × ×