The web was created to provide access to a “universe of documents.” Since then, the Web has become many things, but documents and, by extension, publications, have remained close to the heart of the Web.
Many publishers use EPUB to bring digital content to their readers. EPUB is built from Web technologies, but publishing uses the Web for so much more, from everyday matters of communication and marketing to learning management systems and online journals. Print and digital books are bought and sold on websites.
But publications are still not first-class citizens of the web. EPUB exists in silos, somewhat disconnected from the Web. Long texts make special demands on readers. We expect to read books and publications even while offline. We hope to share publications, save them, keep them. We expect a kind of permanence to publications, which we don’t typically expect of Web sites.
Publishing at W3C works to identify and solve problems. We also want EPUB to be truly interoperable among readers. We also want publications on the Web to be more capable, more beautiful, more accessible, and easier.
How to Participate
The focal point of general conversations for the future of publishing takes place in the Publishing Business Group; to join the Group, please go to the Group’s page to sign up. Participation in this group requires a modest fee.
The present and future of EPUB lies by the EPUB 3 Working Group. This group works on ensuring the interoperability of EPUB; it is also the home for the technical evolution of EPUB 3 while maintaining a strong backward compatibility and taking into account the business needs of the publishing community. Participation in that group requires to be a regular W3C member; to join that group, please sign up here.
The EPUB 3 Working Group is closely related to the Publishing Community Group. While the EPUB 3 Working Group is the guardian of the EPUB standard, the Community Group is the home for discussions around new technical directions, ideas, and experimentation; some of these ideas may become part of a future EPUB or other standards. It is the primary “incubation arm” or the of Publishing@W3C, the birthplace of new ideas for the future. We encourage you to join the new EPUB 3 Community Group which is free and open to all. Simply go there to sign up.
The Publishing@W3C activity has also developed, over the past years, a separate Audiobooks standard in a separate Working Group, namely the Audiobooks (formerly Publishing) Working Group. This specification (published in 2020) offers the first International Standard to produce and distribute audiobooks in an interoperable manner. The structure of the specification, relying on the more general Publication Manifest specification, can also be re-used for the possible future developments of other, specialized forms of publications, like Mangas (or other forms of visual narratives).
The activity has also set up some other Community Groups to concentrate on specific issues. The activity will watch the progress of work in these Community Groups and take it into consideration as appropriate. See the side bar for the list of those. There are also a number of other community groups, set up by the community at large, whose topics may be relevant to publishing; see the W3C Community Groups’ page for further details. All these groups are free and open for all.
The regular W3C membership also covers the possible participation in any Business Groups, including the Publishing Business Group, but also any other Interest or Working Groups at W3C. To become a W3C member, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Other W3C Groups Relevant for Publishing
There are many areas of technical work at W3C in which the publishing community is already participating. Among these are the CSS Working Group, or various groups in the Web Accessibility Initiative. Participation in Interest and Working Groups is open to regular members of W3C.
There are a number of groups working on technologies that will also be of interest and the publishing roadmap evolves including Video, Audio, Graphics, Web Payments to name a few.
Upcoming Events with W3C Participation
(See also complete list)