9 Things You Need to Know About ePub3
5. Make your content accessible to a vastly larger market
ePub 3 is superseding a specialized format (DAISY DTBook) for making publications accessible to people with disabilities. This is not just for the blind. More and more people need larger print to comfortably read, and physically distributing large-print books for every title is not realistic. Dyslexic and physically disabled readers also find traditional paper books challenging. And, we are all "situationally disabled": We shouldn't read while driving, and most of us, while learning to read—either as children or as adults studying a foreign language—have wanted to listen and read simultaneously. Every ePub-based e-book can be, with a single click to increase the font size, a large-print edition. ePub 3 also supports "media overlays" that enable prerecorded audio to be synchronized with text (and it's already in Apple iBooks).
6. A strategic weapon for publishers
ePub, like HTML5, is developed via an open and transparent process. While Adobe's dictatorship during the desktop publishing era (PDF, PostScript) was, by and large, benevolent, Adobe's focus was on authoring tools, rather than control of the overall value chain. Thanks to the iTunes/iPad playbook, the risk of one or perhaps a few commercial vendors effectively controlling all commercial publishing is now an obvious danger. By adopting ePub, publishers maintain "hand" (to borrow a poker term) in their interactions with a massively disrupting digital supply chain. Even vendors who have stuck to proprietary formats, such as Amazon, have had to create workflows accommodating ePub.
Standardizing on ePub 3 for enhanced e-books is a smart move to avoid vendor lock-in (which could lead to future "lock-out" from readers and profits). While most vendors have adopted ePub, and have publicly expressed enthusiasm for ePub 3, there's still plenty of room for reading-system innovation and differentiation in areas ranging from navigation affordances to social reading that aren't specified by the ePub 3 format. But a few vendors still seek "One Ring to Rule them All." Remember: Your content is king. Don't sell it out for vendor eye candy; lust by your techies for the "latest and greatest" or "the proprietary environment they already know"; or the captive ring of conversion that cost sharing offers. And remember that each format you authorize for distribution multiplies the risk of introducing errata and other brand-diminishing artifacts.