Electronic publishing (or “ePub“) has become a phenomenon in the publishing industry in recent years. Files in the format of ePubs, in particular, have exploded in popularity all over the world. These files are, by definition, free and openly shared e-books. These files have the attached extension of “.epub” and were originally designed to allow a text file to be optimized for the particular device it is being displayed on. This makes these .epub files extremely versatile.
The ePub files are meant to function as a one-size-fits-all format for electronic publishing and e-book readers. E-books are the most common type of .epub file but this format can also be used for any other type of text a publisher (or individual) wants to distribute digitally. In September of 2007, ePub format became the official, standard format of the the International Digital Publishing Forum (also known as the “IDPF”). In doing so, it superseded the older Open eBook standards. In essence, .epub is an extension of the formerly popular .XML format. EPub files are essentially a modernized, improved Zip file.
Features of an ePub file:
- Free and open
- Re-flowable (word wrap) and re-sizable text
- Support for alternative renditions in the same file
- Use of out-of-line and inline XML islands to extend the functionality of EPUB
- Vector images and inline raster
- Embedded metadata
- DRM support
- CSS styling
Epubs can be viewed on many different e-reader devices, assuming they possess one of the required programs to open a .epub file. These devices include the two most popular, Amazon’s Kindle and the Barnes and Nobel Nook. There are several software programs designed to help you make and EPUB file. Adobe’s InDesign or Calibre are two popular choices. Apple’s new “iBookstore” consists entirely of downloadable books and texts in the ePub format.
As far as where ePub books (and other .epub text files) can be downloaded – the internet is full of places. You can search by genre, title, author, and many other criteria when searching for an ePub file. Additionally, there are many websites that specialized in ePub downloads. Some charge for their services while others are completely free. These days, virtually all bestsellers and many, many classics can be found in the ePub format for downloading either online or through an e-reading device.
Google Incorporated has over 500,000 public domain titles in the ePub format and all can be downloaded for free by individuals. Project Gutenberg has a collection of over 20,000 titles. Their selection is, relatively speaking, rather small – but they have virtually all the popular classics.
Publishing and technological analysts are adamant in their predictions that open, downloadable books are the future of the publishing industry. While many people dispute this, there is no shortage of data to support the claims that digital e-books (and .epub books, by extension) are on the rise. With more and more big bookstore chains (and top technology companies) coming out with their own brands of e-readers everyday, it is quite plausible that we have only seen the beginning of this new step for society.