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eBooks are cool, but they could get even cooler with EPUB3, the next version of the widely adopted distribution and interchange format for digital books (well, except for Amazon). The latest version of the standard could make it easier for publishers to more flexibly represent their offerings to digital book retailers, and add a lot of excitement to the eBook reading experience, too.
EPUB3 is based on HTML 5 and was proposed to include RDFa. RDFa is in question for eBook metadata now, however, though there is still the possibility to embed RDF/OWL within eBook content. (Membership comments on EPUB3 are due in by Aug. 22). EPUB 3 requires the same three metadata elements as EPUB 2, which are dc:identifier, dc:title, and dc:language, while also permitting many more. “We left it open to using something like RDFa so you can put in what you need to,” says Eric Freese, solutions architect at digital publishing solutions vendor Aptara. That could include, for example, using the PRISM (Publishing Requirements for Industry Standard Metadata) XML metadata vocabulary for managing and aggregating publishing content, or ONIX metadata for representing and communicating book industry product information.
However the RDFa question fares, one thing that is increasingly clear to publishers that have done any looking at all into eBooks, Freese says, is that “it doesn’t take long before they get hit in the face with the metadata problem. And as more time goes by there are fewer and fewer publishers who haven’t thought about doing eBooks.”