W3C Publishing Summit 2017

Guest blog by Evan Owens

The first-ever W3C Publishing Summit took place in San Francisco, November 9 to 10, to discuss how web technologies are shaping publishing today, tomorrow, and beyond. Publishing and the web interact in innumerable ways. The Open Web Platform and its technologies have become essential to how content is created, developed, enhanced, discovered, disseminated, and consumed online and offline.

Background on IDPF and W3C

During February 2017, the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum) merged into the W3C. IDPF members are now joining W3C with new committees formed, including the W3C Publishing Working Group, EPUB Community Group, and others.

Keynote: The Future of Content by Abhay Parasnis – CTO, Adobe

The internet is wide open to all world communications. “Content publication” has expanded to a very broad level via the Internet. Businesses are trying to reach out in personalized fashion. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are important for content location & delivery and personalization. W3C does important standards development, but as technology is moving fast how should we coordinate successfully?

A major goal of the W3C is to define a new Portal Web Publication (PWP) content format that will merge HTML and EPUB and replace PDF. EPUB 4.0 is likely to become a subset of that new PWP standard.

Following are some of my observations from the various presentations and discussions from the conference. Feel free to add your thoughts and takeaways in the comments section!

Content Platforms and Publishers

  • Majority of eBook content is still in EPUB2
  • EPUB3 is big  in Japan and China but not common in English-language publications yet
  • Most failed EPUB content is from USA publishers
  • Publishers tend to overuse fixed layout, especially academic or instructional content
  • Future will be CSS, interactivity, and accessibility

Digital Publishing in Asia, Europe,and Latin America

  • UK the biggest eBook market with 575K new eBooks per year
  • Amazon is leading EU bookseller (90% of UK sales)
  • Japan produces approximately 500K eBooks
  • Japan has been using EPUB 3.0 since 2011; 100% of old files were migrated to the new format
  • The market is growing in Korea and China
  • In Latin America ebooks are primarily EPUB 2.0; 3.0 hasn’t been adopted yet
  • 55% of publishers in Latin America have not yet started digital content production

Accessibility in Publishing and W3C

  • Accessibility in digital publishing is a key issue that was included in EPUB
  • W3C implementation goals include supporting EPUB3 accessibility and collaborating with the W3C WCAG
  • DAISY has built a checking tool called “ACE”; it is now in beta and available for testing
  • Cenveo Publisher Services provides accessibility services and testing

Educational Publishing

  • Personalized learning challenges include the learning platform and the metrics
  • There is now a major move from books to digital e-learning platforms
  • Learning is now subject to data-driven insights: analytics add value by these tools

Creating EPUB Content that Looks and Works Great Everywhere

  • Microsoft added an EPUB reader into Windows 10 MS Edge web browser
  • Almost 90% of ebooks are EPUB2 and recent content in 2017 is only 62% EPUB3
  • Issues for EPUB content creation and rendition include
    • Many different screen sizes and orientations (e.g. phone, table, computer)
    • Reader requirements: mobility, classroom usage, accessibility
    • Pagination works differently in different reading systems
    • Tables and anything with fixed width is risky
    • Captions not staying with images due to page breaks
    • Background images break when flowing across pages
    • CSS layout for colored text failures
    • Supporting audio reader software by language metadata
    • Fixed layout never 100% perfect
    • Don’t use SVG for text layout
    • Test content in several epub reader devices, etc.

Publication Metadata

  • Consumer metadata versus academic metadata remains a key challenge
  • Standards are only slowly adopted; e.g. ONIX 3 published 2009 but by 2017 only about 50% adopted
  • Autotagging versus human tagging; machines more consistent
  • 105 metadata standards

Cenveo Publisher Services is a proud member of the W3C Publishing Working Group. The issues discussed at the W3C Publishing Summit are ones we address everyday with academic, scholarly, and education publishers. We look forward to working with you in 2018 on innovative publishing solutions that improve editorial quality and streamline production while continuously addressing costs. Let us know how we can help.


Follow Us!

Related White Papers


Mike Groth

Michael Groth is Director of Marketing at Cenveo Publisher Services, where he oversees all aspects of marketing strategy and implementation across digital, social, conference, advertising and PR channels. Mike has spent over 20 years in marketing for scholarly publishing, previously at Emerald, Ingenta, Publishers Communication Group, the New England Journal of Medicine and Wolters Kluwer. He has made the rounds at information industry events, organized conference sessions, presented at SSP, ALA, ER&L and Charleston, and blogged on topics ranging from market trends, library budgets and research impact, to emerging markets and online communities.. Twitter Handle: @mikegroth72