After trying out, and tiring of, one shitty E-book after another, and in recognition of plain facts and industry trends, I wrote a giant piece for Zeldman: “Web Standards for E-Books.” I hope it will be the definitive article demonstrating that the future of most electronic books is ePub, which in turn is real XHTML. Your Web-standards knowledge can serve you well here, although by advocating this HTML-triumphalist view I am foreclosing future book formats. (Check the sidebar of “typographic tragicomedy” in E-books.)


  • The published piece is missing the section on sections:

    Sections. HTML’s single biggest deficiency for long documents is its lack of sections. They exist in HTML5, but ePub doesn’t use HTML5. Sections in nonfiction books may sometimes be differentiable through the use of headings, but the classic book-design paradigm of leaving extra space between sections (with different type on initial words of the new section) simply can’t be marked up in HTML. (In uncommon cases, section breaks like these occur right at the bottom of a printed page and have to be inferred.)

    There is another tradition in book composition that can be adapted – typesetting a fleuron or dash between sections. It’s functionally equivalent to the use of HR, which can, with difficulty, be styled to be less intrusive. Nonetheless, you are still merely suggesting that sections have changed; what you are not doing is definitively encapsulating sections in their own markup.

  • Despite delivering it correctly and flagging the error, “I’ve Got Chills. They’re Multiplyin’ ” is mistypeset.

Coming up

One tries to walk the walk, as it were. Organizing Our Marvellous Neighbours: How to Feel Good About Canadian English will be reissued quite soon in actual ePub. You’ll have to buy it all over again, of course.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.03.09 16:23. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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