To the shock of many loyal Readium users around the world, Google announced that it is planning to discontinue the use of Readium soon.
One of the major reasons is that Google’s recent changes to its security rules —such as no inline scripts — have ended up in partially crippling the application. Google had indicated back in 2017 about the impending changes.
As a result, Readium Foundation has decided to cease supporting and releasing the app. Furthermore, Readium recently released the version 0.31 — its latest and final release of the Readium Chrome application.
Google states that deprecated Chrome apps will no longer be updated after the final update in October. You can still access the Readium CloudReader, though no new features are planned for the future. It’s all in maintenance mode as of now.
As a result, the digital publishing industry is currently facing a great challenge and is actively searching for alternate solutions to substitute Readium.
There are a number of alternative reading systems based on Readium technology (ReadiumJS, Readium SDK and/or Readium LCP) available. Furthermore, there is a new Readium browser-based app in the works called ‘Readium Web’.
The app’s functions include several tasks such as saving the essential bits of the ReadiumJS stack, adding interfaces, cleaning up library management, and so on.
The development of this desktop app is a rather tedious and time-consuming task, as its verification will require it to be tested across a large number of platforms.
Top Readium Alternatives
Applications Based on Readium
- Readium Test Apps
These are some of the recent, native Readium test apps on mobile platforms created to demonstrate the current Readium technology. However, these full-fledged apps are currently under active development.
- R2 Reader
R2 Reader is a free reading app for accessing ePUB2 and ePUB3 publications. It is currently available on both the App Store for iPhone and iPad as well as on Google Play Store. It is compatible with Readium LCP.
A co-founder of the Readium Foundation, Bluefire helps all iOS and Android mobile apps to add ereader features to it.
- Evident Point
Evident Point is one of the major contributors of Readium Architecture and Readium Web. As the primary developers of both Readium JS as well as Readium for Chrome, it provides numerous plugins for Readium. Evident Point strives to make sure that Readium always stays ahead in terms of technological development.
- Learning Ally
This app is primarily for the use of differently abled students who are visually impaired, blind or dyslexic. The app offers a large number of audiobooks is known as the largest human-read audiobook library. This is also the first app that supports Readium DRM.
Alternatively, people can also experiment with other SDKs to ensure continuous and seamless user experience.
Kitaboo SDK by Hurix allows you to integrate high-quality rendering, annotation, and analytics to the bespoke eBook platform. You can customize and integrate all its functionalities into your platform of choice, as per your requirements.
The end of Readium doesn’t mean the end of reader apps. Adopting a different SDK can prove quite efficient in creating a robust ePUB reading system for mobile and desktop devices.
The End of an Era in Publishing
The end of Readium will affect users all around the world. People who used to depend on it can no longer expect any updates or upgrades in the future. We will discuss a few ways the end of Readium will affect the users and the digital publishing industry.
The End of Readium Foundation
The Readium Foundation was vital in developing the ePUB3 standard in collaboration with bodies such as IDPF. Technological developments around the standard and digital publishing in general by Readium was also under W3C. This is to say, Readium played a significant role in the development of international standards.
But with the end of Readium, we can no longer expect Readium to contribute towards the development of any international standards.
Readium Web as the New Extension
Readium was working on a replacement for its ReadiumJS implementation. The old ReadiumJS architecture would work on any HTML5 browser. We also had the Readium Chrome Application and support for Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Microsoft Edge. Another option was to use the Readium Cloud Reader.
After Readium ends, we can use the Readium Web that is fully functional. But that’s where it stops! Readium Web may not see any upgrades and lose its significance with the advance in digital publishing technology.
The Fate of Readium Apps
Readium had some test apps that users downloaded to get the hang of how things work. Many users were expecting commercial versions of the apps in the future. But that hope is not going to bear any fruit, as it turns out.
Readium has acknowledged that the apps were solely for testing and demonstration. So, any commercial version is unlikely as the project is coming to an end. However, developers can clone or fork the codebase to come up with commercial applications.
So, there is some work if Readium apps have to support new standards. It won’t be difficult, as the Readium design is flexible and accommodating.
Unrestricted Use of Readium Code
Users will still be able to use the Readium source code and Readium Web even if things are coming to an end. Users can easily deploy Readium Web on their websites without problems or compatibility issues.
Anyone can also use the Readium source code without a commercial license. It’s totally free and permissively licensed. You will no longer need to pay any license fees like you had to do earlier.
As a comprehensive reference system for ePUB that promotes digital publications for the Open Web, Readium plays a crucial role in the world of digital publishing. On the whole, its end signifies a marked change in the history of the digital publishing industry.
Readium strived to provide a solid foundation for an open source ePUB3 reader built on web kit. Developed in partnership with IDPF, Readium leads the game in the digital publishing community, with some of the best developers at its organization.
It is generally considered to be a very lightweight and user-friendly eBook reader. Its popularity is also due to its high level of compliance with the ePUB3 features.
As one of the key elements of the ePUB platform is its Readium rendering software, the ePUB platform itself might be heavily compromised with the end of this platform. Moreover, ePUB3 continues to drive the expansion of ePUB adoption beyond the limits of trade publishing to address the requirements of mobile devices. For sustaining an open and accessible digital publishing ecosystem, more platforms such as Readium is essential.
The end of Readium is not the end of things, for sure! It has laid the foundation for a common standard that can make most eBooks accessible (all you need to know about WCAG 2.1 Compliance) to readers. It still has a huge number of members and developers willing to make an effort so that we can see new applications based on the source code.
Many open-source applications like Readium has experienced the same fate. But not all of them have become obsolete. Readium has the potential to contribute towards the future of digital publishing and can still stay relevant for many years to come. Watch this space to stay on top of the developments!
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