What are ePubs?


One of the two most common formats in the digital world for reading books are EPUBs and PDFs. And yet, here on the site, all the series are offered in EPUB format.

What gives?

Are you biased or something?

Why not both?


Well, here's a comparison of the two most common formats, and why i choose EPUB instead.



HISTORY


Comparing both formats, PDF is definitely older compared to EPUB. PDF was introduced to the world 24 years ago (1993), compared to EPUB which was introduced 10 years ago (2007). That's like 14 years of time between them. That is also the reason why PDF is quite prevalent today, and there are a lot more sofwares supporting it.


Both belong to the Open Format category. Which basically means anyone can use it. It's kinda like using MP3 format for music or using GIF for images and such.


Feature-wise, each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and personally, PDF is much, much superior compared to EPUB. PDF is used in a wide variety of products such as magazines, document scans, etc. EPUB, however, is especially designed to cater digital books and the like. Looking at both formats, and learning which is more optimized for digital reading, i opted for EPUB instead of PDF.


(Special mention to CBZ and CBR formats, which is the predominant format for Comic Books, which is basically a zip file renamed to CBZ/CBR. Ironically, EPUB is basically also just a zip file, renamed to EPUB)


So having (briefly) looked at their history and a (loose) comparison of their strengths and weaknesses, it is obvious that i should choose EPUB, right? Well, not really. There is one feature among the many that i really love compared to PDF - reflowable text.



REFLOWABLE TEXT


Ahh...... reflowable text.

Not many are aware of this, but everyday you use the internet, every site you visit has this feature. In simple terms, this is when the content of the site you visit on the internet automatically adjusts when you resize your browser. Predominant on EPUB formats and seeminglynon-existent for PDF.


Hate the font size of an EPUB? Well you can resize it!

Dislike the font used of an EPUB? Choose another one!


These options, as well as many others, are not applicable for (almost all) PDF files. 



Great! EPUB it is! So what's with the different formats on different EPUBS?


One word.

CSS (or CUSTOM STYLE SHEET)

(and no, i won't discuss it either)


CSS are basically design features that you can add on your EPUB.

Want your text to use a different format? CSS.

Colors? CSS.


Aside from your source material, which may or may not be properly formatted by itself, CSS makes or breaks your EPUB. An improperly implemented CSS can wreak havoc on your files, without the user knowing about it. Now, i will admit that when i first dabbled with CSS, i have no idea what it does, so take it from me. Don't be afraid to copy someone else's CSS just so you can learn from it. You can even start with mine (*wink *wink, *nudge *nudge).



EPUB Structure Comparisons (Mine to others)


Now, i might be biased when comparing mine with other EPUB, but it's a great exercise to learn what is, and what are, of the different EPUB from different sites, mine included. I am by no means, an erudite on these things. And i could even argue that i, nevertheless, did not follow ALL the standard book design of an EPUB. So tread carefully, and use this strictly as reference.


I will also mention that the first paragraph usually details my EPUB creations. The second paragraph are the observations of OTHER EPUB creations.


DISCLAIMER: Observations noted on this post are releases prior to this date of post. It may very well be possible that other EPUB content has improved over time, thereby nullifying these observations. 



OBSERVATIONS:


  • BOOK COVER 

All EPUB released by me follows a consistent format across different titles. The top half contains art of the series, which may or may not reflect the series correctly, while the bottom half contains the title, book number, and author in large format, in black background. The design has been meticulously derived after countless experiments between aesthetics and functionality (not really). At a glance, even on thumbnail mode, the reader can identify what series it is. An exception has been noted for Japanese novels though, as their covers are really of high quality.

Other versions have their own book cover designs, but commonly, almost all just base the cover from NovelUpdates page. While it primarily serves its intended function as a book cover, especially when there is only one EPUB, it doesn't help much when there are multiple EPUB for the series. The cover is also notably of low quality when it comes to wuxia novels, and are pretty hard to find. There are exceptions though, especially on Japanese ePUB as their cover are of high quality in the first place. 


  • METADATA

Additional information of the series is present for all my EPUB, in the form of metadata. Users can sort the EPUB by title, author, genre, etc. on most EPUB Readers that supports and took advantage of it.

Other versions have very little to no metadata present on it. At most, only the title and author are present on the metadata. A few has more details though, but they are very few and far between.


  • BODY FORMATTING

Prior to using scripts, the source has been stripped of all formatting before adding it in the EPUB. Due to this, any emphasis present on the text has been removed, thus diminishing the impact of that story. After using the scripts though, emphasis has been retained when being transferred to the EPUB. I also utilize double-spacing (for lack of a better word) on the structure of the EPUB. Basically, there is a break after each paragraph, making it neater to read. Such design choice was purely decided by me, and while i do not speak for the whole, some may have a different opinion otherwise.

As observed, most of the other versions do not do this. They usually retain the original format of the source, and personally, there is nothing wrong with that at all. I do have to note that often, the source is not properly cleaned, and thus will inherit whatever format it has. This will affect greatly especially when you have your own CSS applied on the EPUB.


  • TABLE OF CONTENTS / CHAPTER TITLES

Often the most overlooked structure of an EPUB. The table of contents on my EPUB is system generated, following the general layout of the content. Utilizing and maximizing the use of headers, one can generate the table of contents of an EPUB automatically.

Most other EPUB follows this rule. Even some going the extra mile generating an HTML for it. Personally, i don't generate it as the system-generated TOC is already sufficient for its intended use. Some auto-generated EPUB will have dropped titles, and some have repeating titles in it. I see it as laziness on their part, really, and not putting any worth on their EPUB at all.


  • FILE STRUCTURE

While the EPUB does not limit the creator on the ways it uses its file structure, i think it is worth mentioning as there are plenty of ways of using it depending on the creator. I belong to the group who uses the default structure. A new HTML file inside the EPUB is created for every new chapter of the series. I also tend to limit the files up to 100 chapters, then create another EPUB for the next chapters. Why 100 chapters only? Because bigger files tend to load slowly. Now 100 isn't really the optimal limit, but it serves its intended purpose beautifully.

Other EPUB uses a single file, containing the multiple chapters in it. And no, there's nothing wrong with doing it this way. It is more of an alternative when doing this. Other also rename the files inside the EPUB for easier organization.


  • FOOTNOTES

The most common way to connect the footnotes is using the redirect link, inside the EPUB. Basically, readers will have to click on the [citation link] and they will be redirected to the description of that footnote. Mine works differently. There is no more [citation link], but instead the word is highlighted. Once the reader clicks on it, a pop-up window will appear containing the footnote. Less distraction, more reading, more fun.

Aside from me, i don't think most of the other EPUB are using pop-ups for their footnotes, and instead uses the old-fashioned way. On some, there is no link at all, and the footnotes will be displayed, usually at the end of the chapter.


  • BOOK DESIGN

A book, whether electronic or not, is traditionally divided into three parts:

  1. Front Matter
  2. Body Matter
  3. Back Matter

Front matter typically includes but is not limited to the title page, foreword, an acknowledgments section, dedication, table of contents, and a prologue. Body matter is the content itself. Back matter, like front matter, can vary, but might include a glossary, bibliography, index, or an about the author page. While my EPUB does not contain ALL the details of the front matter, i have included the minimal content that should be enough for a front matter. As for back matter, i hardly have any for it. If anything, i am very weak on this part.

Other EPUB generally do follow the book design. So kudos to that. I guess, i need to improve on this part.



CLOSING


Point is, while creating an EPUB is REALLY EASY, structuring it in a way that it conforms to the traditional format of book design is SERIOUSLY HARD. I assume that most of the EPUB creators, me included, have no idea when they started doing this in the first place. All they know is that this should contain this and that, and start learning and improving from it. If you are interested in creating your own EPUB, then go for it.


As for tools, i personally recommend and use SIGIL. It is specially designed to create and edit EPUB. It's kinda like Microsoft Word, but geared toward creating EPUB. And while i am joking on this, but has ANYONE even knows how to use Word PROPERLY? I'll bet that ALMOST ALL have no idea on how to use it PROPERLY, except for the 1% who knows.


Anyways, that's all for now.


PS: If you want to comment, you can do so here.