As someone who is interested in the creation and formatting of ebooks I eagerly picked up Accessible EPUB 3 from O’Reilly’s blogger review program. I know little about the EPUB format as most of my study of ebook creation has been for the Kindle. Reading about EPUB would have given me more tools for complete ebook formatting.
I read the title, Accessible EPUB 3, to mean that the author would show me in an easy to understand (accessible) way to create and format books for the EPUB platform. Even reading the short description at the O’Reilly website did not change my thoughts on what the book was about. But I was completely wrong on who their target audience was. This is not a book for people who are new to EPUB and wanting to learn about it. In fact, the EPUB spec is not even explained in the book. This book is written under the assumption that the reader is already familiar with and understands EPUB.
The book is actually about how to make ebooks that are accessible to people with different abilities. There are sections specifically on how to make books with pictures more accessible to visually impaired readers as well as making audio content more accessible to those with hearing disabilities. This is what is meant by the word accessible.
After getting a better understanding of what the book was about, I enjoyed the book from a thought experiment point of view. There were specific examples on how to implement the concepts the author was proposing. However, as someone who doesn’t even understand EPUB programming, this information was merely theoretical and thought provoking. There are even points in the book where the author, Matt Garrish, admits that there may be a better way to be even more accessible in the future. His point is that he wants readers to think about people with various abilities who will be reading books. What is it they need and how can you go about programming your ebook to fit their needs?
Accessible EPUB 3 is an excerpt from a larger work expected to be published later this year (2012) called EPUB 3 Best Practices.
[Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book through O’Reilly Media.]