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ePub.epub eBooks Tutorial Introduction:
What is ePub? Why should I use it?


Other information on ePub:

Reviews of software programs that read ePub files

Where to get books in ePub format

Introduction: What is ePub? | Part 1: Formatting your Source Content | Part 2: Prepare the XML Files | Part 3: Creating the Container and Adding Your Files

About the IDPF .epub 2 format

The .epub format is an open standard for ebooks by the International Digital Publishing Forum. It is designed to be an open format, meaning that anyone can use the format, and without paying a licensing fee. Then general idea is to have a universal format for books like there is for webpages. Anyone anywhere can read or make a webpage, and everyone (with some exceptions *cough* Microsoft *cough*) uses the same language when they make them, so that everyone can read them. That's the goal for ePub files, to have it so if you download a book from anywhere, you can just read it, without needing a different reading program for books from different publishers. (It's not quite there yet, but progress is being made. The format is now ready, but all the publishers aren't quite using it yet.)

Why should I use the ePub format?

Because it's a completely open and free standard.
The .epub format is a standard for eBooks created by the International Digital Publishing Forum. It consists of basic XHTML for the book content, XML for descriptions, and a re-named zip file to hold it all in. Anyone can make these eBooks, and since they're essentially just XHTML, anyone can read them.

How can I read ePub books?

You need a special program to read ePub files. There are a variety of hardware and software devices that can read books in the ePub format. You can read ePub books on anything from a blackberry or iPhone, to a computer, or a dedicated reading device such as the Sony Reader or the Nook. 

For reviews of programs that can read ePub formatted books, click here.

What is the ePub format?

ePub (also know by: EPUB, .epub, or other variations on capitalization) is a free and open standard for for eBooks (electronic books) maintained by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). The ePub file format was designed to be open (anyone can use it or create it) and re-flowable (the text can be re-sized and re-arranged to suite whatever display it's being read on). Ideally, it will catch on as the standard for ebooks.

For more on the history of the ePub format, see Wikipedia's ePub page, and of course, the IDPF's page.

An ePub book is just a zip file that contains HTML and XML.

Where to get ePub Books

Some books in the IDPF .epub format are available here. (Along with links to other sites to get ePub books from.)

Automated Tools and Software Programs for editing ePub files

There are now several tools for automating the process of creating ePub books. See my ePub software review page for full reviews of a variety of tools to create and edit ePub files. The abilities of these programs range from assisting in packaging your prepared content into the ePub format to providing a full WYSIWYG environment to create and edit in.

What's this about ePub 3?

ePub 3 is the latest version of the ePub specification from the IDPF. The specification has been updated to support HTML 5 and fully support CSS, as well as adding support for SVG graphics, and a few other things.

Right now (December 2011), Azardi is the only reader program that can read ePub 3 files, and no one is distributing them yet.

In the future, I will add a tutorial about how to make ePub 3 files, as well as update the reviews pages if any of the current readers can read the new files (or parts of them...)


Required Tools:

Tools Needed:

Optional Tools:

You can make ePub files with just the programs that came with your operating system, but here are some suggestions for tools that can make the process easier.

For Windows:

For OS X:

Several people have written to tell me that OS X's built in zip support works just fine. Just layout your files, then compress the folder they're in (right-click, then click "Compress"). Others prefer the command line zip program.


The process of making an ePub book can be broken down into three parts:

  1. Prepare the content
  2. Prepare the XML files
  3. Put in in the container.


    >> Continue to Part 1 of the ePub  tutorial: Formatting your Source Content

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Comments? Questions?

If you have any comments, notice any bugs, or have any questions on any of the steps here, please e-mail me at: yoda47 (at) jedisaber (dot) com