NISO Two Part Webinar: Understanding Critical Elements of E-books: Standards for Formatting and Metadata, Part 1

EPUB3: Putting Electronic Books into a Package

Below are listed questions that were submitted during the March 14, 2012 webinar. Answers from the presenters will be added when available. Not all the questions could be responded to during the live webinar, so those that could not be addressed at the time are also included below.


  • Bill Kasdorf, Vice President, Apex Content Solutions; Metadata Subgroup Lead, IDPF EPUB 3 Working Group
  • Sanders Kleinfeld, Publishing Technologies Specialist, O'Reilly Media

Feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions about library, publishing, and technical services standards, standards development, or if you have suggestions for new standards, recommended practices, or areas where NISO should be engaged.

NISO Webinar Questions and Answers

1. Do you know of anyone making use of the ability to embed a MARC record into an EPUB3 file? Could cataloging in publication data be embedded and be used by ereading devices to arrange books by subject headings or by Dewey or LC classification numbers?

2. Could someone talk about conversion tools for existing content - say, multi-file XHTML works, or TEI?

Sanders Kleinfeld: The EPUB standard specifies that book content should be in XHTML format, so if you have valid XHTML content already, no conversion should be necessary to make it EPUB-compatible. You’ll just need to add the necessary metadata (OPF) and Table of Contents (NCX in EPUB 2.0.1 or EPUB Navigation Document in EPUB 3). More details on the EPUB spec can be found on the IDPF site here:

For conversion of TEI to EPUB, you may want to look into tei2epub. Details here:

3. Are there accommodations in the specs for security, encryption, licensing.. for proprietary research and intellectual property?

4. Is there any hope for the Kindle?

Sanders Kleinfeld: With the release of KF8, Amazon has more closely aligned the Mobi format with HTM5 and EPUB 3, and has greatly improved support for CSS 2.1 features as well as some CSS3 features. So, while Amazon is sticking with a proprietary standard for the foreseeable future, they do seem invested in maintaining feature parity with EPUB. Additionally, KF8’s new support for @media queries and the latest version of kindlegen mitigate many of the challenges of converting EPUB to KF8 Mobi. Both these developments are good news for ebook content creators.

5. This is for Bill. What's the use of MARC in EPUB3 content?

6. Can you suggest any sources of [free] e-books in EPUB3 form?

Sanders Kleinfeld: Yes, the IDPF has an epub-samples open source project with many free EPUB 3 documents. You can find them at

7. Adobe In Design is supposed to have native support for EPUB 3. What do you know about that and how well it will work to create an EPUB document from an In Design file?

Sanders Kleinfeld: I haven’t heard any official confirmation that the next version of InDesign will support export to EPUB 3. However, with InDesign CS5.5, Adobe has greatly improved EPUB export capabilities, including some EPUB 3 features like <audio> and <video>. Here’s a nice summary of features supported in CS5.5 EPUB export:

So, it’s definitely viable right now to export from InDesign CS5.5 directly to EPUB 2.0.1, and get great results. But keep in mind that this will likely entail some extra advance legwork to map your InDesign paragraph and character styles to the desired HTML outputs.

8. How is highlighting, annotating, and bookmarking incorporated into EPUB3?