The rise of eBooks as a format has fundamentally altered the foundations of the publishing world. Publishers no longer put out static, text-based products designed to merely be read. The eBook revolution has led to a broader definition of what a book is - and it now includes graphics, animations and interactive sections, in addition to the basic text.
This change happened in three waves, starting with Amazon's release of the Kindle in 2007. This revolutionary product changed the way many people consume books, and redefined them not just as paper products, but as media to be read on a handheld screen.
The second wave of change happened in 2010 when the iPad was released. Tablet computers allowed for greater interactivity in book formats. Publishers could add quizzes, games and other engaging elements to books, continuing the evolution even further.
With each of the first two waves came some limitations. Every time a company created a new type of eReader, they invariably invented their own file format for the books. Currently there are dozens of eBook formats including AZW, EPUB, PRC, PDF, TXT, RTF, CBR and CBZ, according to Good eReader. This means that users often buy a book and are left with only one way to read it. Content purchased on a Kindle can only be read via that device, and even when it is possible to convert one type of format to be compatible on another device, it's a long and complicated process.
This format issue gave rise to the third wave of change in the publishing industry. In an effort to standardize eBooks and allow users the flexibility to take the content with them across devices, open web tools like HTML5 were developed. These resources, which allow books to be read in any browser, are finally freeing eBooks from the constraints of specific readers, giving users full access to their content wherever they go and on whichever device they choose.
"When a person buys an eBook, they want to be able to access that information in as many ways as possible."
When consumers buy eBooks, they want to be able to access that information in as many ways as possible. They may have time to read on a computer while sitting at their desk, pick it up again on their phone in the subway on the way home, then get a few more pages in on a tablet while they get ready for bed.
Only books freed from the constraints of a specific eReader, published using HTML5 tools, can make the jump from device to device, as the books are easily read online via any internet browser, according to another post by Good eReader.
This can be especially useful when dealing with content like corporate training manuals and other types of information that a company wants to disseminate to their employees. Instead of being forced to use a single type of eReader device, employees can access the information however they choose and use it at their leisure.
Current eBook formats are unable to take full advantage of the digital world. Unlike HTML5, these other formats do not support audio and video placed within the text, according to Baekdal. This prevents a traditional eBook from utilizing all of the mediums that help people learn, limiting what it can do compared to an Internet-based reader.
While this may not be a concern for novels and other types of pleasure reading, when the intent of the text is to inform or educate, it's beneficial to include other interactive elements that can aid in learning.
HTML5 is the future of eBook publishing, with an increasing number of companies making the most of its many features to produce more compelling and useful books.