The massive digitalization of education has brought electronic books to the forefront of digital publishing. However, with the ever-growing market share of eBooks, the demand for versatility in these technologies has also increased. The classic PDF format just doesn’t cut it anymore.
To stay competitive and offer an exceptional learning experience to students and educators, publishers are embracing ePub readers, especially with the recent arrival of the ePub3 format. In this article, we’ll explore what all the hype is really about.
Here’s what we’ll cover.
Table of Contents:
ePub vs PDF: Why the Change?
For a long time, PDF was the preferred format for digital publishing. However, as the ePub format develops further the ePub vs PDF debate continues. While PDF still has its benefits, the reflowable nature of ePub, gives it an edge. Here are a few more reasons why many publishers are making the change:
- Rich Media: ePubs are superior to PDFs in terms of rich media. They offer an engaging experience using interactive media, hyperlinks, videos, and more.
- Accessibility: A major drawback of PDF files is that they require complex coding, which makes it difficult for the software developer to include special add-ons. ePub is primarily written in XHTML and XML, making it more accessible and compatible with most software.
- Reflowable: A reflowable document can adjust its presentation to fit the screen. It comes in handy, especially for small screens. PDF files are not reflowable and don’t easily adapt to different devices and various-sized displays.
- Conversion Tools: Several free and paid tools are available to convert ePub files to and from different formats. For example, the conversion of MOBI to ePub can be done easily. In contrast, converting PDF documents to a web-friendly format is quite difficult.
ePub in Educational Publishing
As ePub grows in popularity across the digital space, educational publishers are not far behind. Many large educational publishers use this format to deliver their content to the virtual learning environments (VLEs) and classrooms.
Popular ePub Adopters:
Educational publishers are using ePub not just for retail distribution but as a framework for their content platforms and infrastructures.
ePub is ‘built-in’ to the new information infrastructure of Macmillan Learning, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Pearson. The biggest aggregator of educational content, VitalSource, also prefers the ePub format.
What Makes ePub the Preferred Format for Educational Publishing?
Modern platforms need to be based on Open Web Technologies. The ePub format is the most popular specification for managing publication content based on an Open Web Platform.
It offers the following value additions:
- An advanced vocabulary comprising education and publication-specific terms unavailable in WAI-ARIA or HTML.
- A complex publication composed of several media, documents, and engaging features as a single entity.
- Extraction and distribution of ‘chunks’ of content like quizzes, scripted components, exercises, tests, etc.
- Meets all accessibility requirements consistent with WCAG, WAI, and ARIA.
Key Features of ePub Readers
While ePub files are a great way to access eBooks, they almost always need an additional software called an ePub reader, to be viewed. Although many platforms now automatically open ePub files, having an ePub reader makes things much easier. Here’s how:
1. Enhanced Accessibility
Learners with disabilities may require additional support to access digital content. ePub readers provide equal learning opportunities by supporting media overlays that improve the functionality of the screen reader. For example, text portions are highlighted synchronously when pre-recorded audio is played.
ePub readers also offer the ability to modify the display with regard to aspects such as text color, size, and font.
2. Multi-Device Compatibility
Both support text, audio, images, graphics, and videos. The choice of layout depends on the intended purpose, treatment, and the nature of the content.
3. eLearning Interactivity
ePub readers support basic eLearning interactivity. For instance, it allows the selection of text, portions of a graphic, or an image for displaying text.
While the reader cannot change the layout of a fixed-layout ePub file, the reflowable format allows device or screen size-specific content adjustment.
Fixed layouts offer more effective eLearning interactivity than reflowable layouts, as default page breakdowns can impact the functionality of the interactivity design.
4. Multimedia Elements
One of the most beneficial features of ePub readers is the support for SVG format and semantic markup technologies. Tags can be added for inserting media elements like videos and audio into eBooks.
Complex equations and custom graphics can also be inserted. Thus, ePub readers facilitate the addition of multimedia such as illustrations, tutorial videos, and much more.
5. Multilingual Support
Multilingual ePub readers remove linguistic limitations by supporting more than just left-to-right scripts. They can be distributed to audiences from diverse geographical locations in multiple languages such as Japanese, Swedish, Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic, French, and more.
As is evident, the world of education is moving fast towards the complete adoption of the ePub format. Not only is this more cost-effective for publishers, it also gives learners a more interactive and seamless learning experience. ePub and ePub readers are here to stay.
To know more about why ePub and ePub readers are crucial for your content,write to us at KITABOO@hurix.com.
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