Friday, June 14, 2013

EPUB for archival preservation

EPUB for archival   preservation. Johan van der Kniff. KB/National Library of the Netherlands. 20 July 2012. 
The EPUB format has become increasingly popular in the consumer market. A number of publishers have indicated their wish to use EPUB for supplying their electronic publications to the KB. This document looks at the characteristics and functionality of the format, and whether or not it is suitable for preservation.  Conceptually, an EPUB file is just an ordinary ZIP archive which includes one or more XHTML files, in one or more directories.  Cascading Style Sheets are used to define layout and formatting. A number of XML files provide metadata.

EPUB has a number of strengths that make it attractive for preservation. It is an open format that is well documented, and there are no known patents or licensing restrictions. The format's specifications are freely available. It is largely based on well‐established and widely‐used standards so it scores high marks for transparency and re‐usability. For situations where authenticity is crucial (e.g. legal documents) all or parts of a document can be digitally signed. Also, EPUB 2 is a popular format with excellent viewer support, including several open source implementations. There is concern that its role is limited because the current e‐book market is dominated by proprietary formats. And EPUB3 is currently less stable. There is a chart of recommendations for using EPUB.

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