Why I’m Not Converting to ePub version 3

I was preparing a talk on selling your work digitally that I’ll present at the Origins Game Fair, when I realized that I am still firmly using ePub version 2 instead of version 3.  There’s not a lot of differences between the two, but they exist.

So I looked into it somewhat… and quickly realized that for those of us writing novels, short stories, anthologies – basically text-based works – that the drawbacks and learning curve aren’t worth it.

The whole point of using a real eBook format instead of PDF is so that the text can fit the screen – because you don’t know what font size or even what kind of device the person is going to be reading on.  They could be reading it on a PC, on a phone (of different resolutions), an eInk reader, or tablet.  And I want that reading experience to be roughly the same across platforms.  Or to put it another way:

The presentation of the text may enhance the work, but must never distract from the work

I’ve pointed this out a few different times – the example showing how drop caps can completely bork your work is a good one – and that philosophy underpins why I’m not using ePub version 3.  I don’t know what my readers are using, and I want to ensure that it renders the same across devices.

Here’s one of the example ePub 3 files (the Wasteland, to be specific – and not obfuscated fonts, because I know that problem already) rendered across several different devices.  There is neither consistent support for the Greek lettering (which I would have solved by using an image) or for the linebreaks.

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