EPUB - the Collaboratively Developed Portable Document Format

Many open standards started life as single-vendor proprietary formats and, even after being “opened”, often continue to be in thrall to one vendor’s strategic interests. That is not and has never been true of EPUB.  

EPUB is a free-to-use open standard, collaboratively developed by the over 300 organizations that form the membership of its custodian, the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF).  These include all parts of the global publishing value chain: content creators,  publishers, reading system developers, libraries, educational and government institutions, and software and service providers. The working group model used by IDPF to develop and enhance EPUB is inclusive and transparent, similar to that used by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which develops most of the building-block specifications of the Open Web Platform on which EPUB is based.

Beyond the specifications themselves there are many community-developed open source projects that support EPUB including EPUBCheck, the EPUB Reading System Conformance Test Suite, EPUBTest, and the projects of the Readium Foundation and a growing group of content developers sharing knowledge and tips about EPUB on twitter (#eprdctn is a hashtag of note) and other forums. The site hosting this article, epubzone.org,  is one part of that growing global community. Access for all is a hallmark of EPUB, and that implies input from all stakeholders into its evolution.

NOTE  Organizational Collaborations.

The EPUB standard is developed by the IDPF, the only global  trade and standards organization focused exclusively on digital publishing. IDPF is committed to increasing alignment of EPUB and related standards and is actively collaborating with a number of related organizations including the W3C (the organization that standardizes HTML5, CSS, and  the vast majority  of the other building-block standards of the Open Web Platform), DAISY Consortium (focused on accessibility of digital publications), BISG (Book Industry Study Group), IMS Global Learning (a standards-setting organization for e-Learning), and IDEAlliance (whose membership is centered in the magazine industry), as well as regional publishers associations and digital publishing groups around the world.