We recently received a couple of requests from users to ask whether we intend to add support for the EPUB 3 format in our Twixl Publisher product. We assume these questions are triggered by the fact that Adobe is pushing fixed-layout EPUB as ‘the’ solution for users that are left out in the cold now that Adobe DPS Single Edition is no longer part of Creative Cloud.
The way we see it, fixed-layout EPUB 3 does not offer an added value for users that are currently creating content in InDesign.
One of the drawbacks of using pixel-perfect designs in Adobe InDesign is that you need to create several versions (“renditions”) of your content to support different screen resolutions and aspect ratios, from tablets to phones.
Moving to fixed-layout EPUB 3 does not solve that problem, and then you might as well use a solution like Twixl Publisher to create and publish both single- and multi-issue apps, as it offers lots more capabilities built-in. Also, having your own app will still provide more visibility than you can generate with EPUB publishing.
Sometimes the fact that you can control your own distribution of EPUB files, outside of an app environment, is touted as a big advantage. Note, however, that although iOS provides a default EPUB reader (the iBooks app) that allows you to open EPUB files, there is no such thing on Android. Some devices come with an EPUB reader out of the box, but many don’t. Furthermore, you don’t have the assurance that the EPUB files will be displayed in the same way as on iOS, and the behaviour may even differ among different Android EPUB readers.
Also, if you are distributing content yourself, and you want to integrate such options as payment and entitlement, you’ll have to provide that yourself. That way, self-publishing might quickly turn into an expensive support nightmare.
Even if the process of publishing an app on one or more of the App Stores may take a bit of time to configure initially, and even if it means Apple or Google get 30% of your revenue, the fact that you have your own app provides a much better value: you can use the store’s built-in features like payment support, in-app purchases for kiosk apps, the integration of print subscriber login, analytics, push notifications etc.
We are convinced that in the long run, in order to be able to easily publish to a plethora of devices with different form factors, HTML-based content will be the most viable solution. Apps like Flipboard, Zite and Apple’s recently announced News app for iOS9 are a testament to that. As our Twixl Publisher product supports the HPub format, essentially a package of HTML documents, you can already integrate this type of content in today’s Twixl apps.
Why is Adobe pushing EPUB?
Because their primary focus is on their publishing solution as a platform. Their goal is to tie their customer to the Adobe platform so they can make extra money on services in addition to their traditional software products.
As single-issue apps can be published directly on the app stores without the need for Adobe’s added services, Adobe are not interested in focussing on that type of publication. First they only supported it on iOS anyway, leaving Android out of the loop. Recently they stopped supporting single-issue apps as part of a Creative Cloud subscription, and now only offer it as part of their expensive DPS subscriptions.
But the low end (read “unprofitable”) part of the market is asking for an easy solution (read “no need to create an app”). This is why Adobe is pushing to export EPUB fixed-layout from InDesign.
In the end, creating EPUB fixed-layout content will not allow you to become more productive, as it will take as much time as you’d need when creating a DPS .folio or a Twixl .publication.
We’d like to hear from you…
We would appreciate to hear your thoughts on this, so feel free to send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, with subject ‘Why not EPUB?’