Web. Period.

  • when you reach knowledge bases for a product you have purchased, it’s documents
  • every time you’re on Wikipedia (and you do that quite often, don’t you?), you’re reading documents
  • every time you’re reading a review for a product on Amazon, you’re reading a document made of multiple chunks of prose aggregated into one single document instance
  • every time you read something on Medium, it’s a document, right?
  • every time you read about the last geeky piece of news on CNet or The Register, it’s a document
  • when you read online Le Monde, the New York Times or your favorite local newspaper, through the front-end Web or through an app, it’s a document
  • etc.
container.xml file rendered by Firefox Quantum
  • there are legions of ebook reading systems that were never updated and live years behind the current state of art of Web browsers
  • EPUB is far from being the only format in the ebook world
  • html, CSS are almost never up to date
  • JavaScript is rarely allowed
  • the Web is backwards-compatible: I can still open a mcom.com page from the Web Archive and read it, I can still open one of the very first Web pages authored by Tim Berners-Lee some 27 yars ago and read it in a browser released yesterday. The world of EPUB is not: EPUB 3.1 is incompatible with 3.0.1 that is itself incompatible with 2.0.1. Every generation completely breaks compatibility backwards and forwards.
  • in return, because a market is a market, Reading Systems’ vendors rarely implement the conformance criteria of the EPUB specifications. Because otherwise they would choke on both older and newer versions.
  • and of course, because a market is a market and because the versions are so incompatible, publishers keep old EPUB 2 books forever… The upgrade cost is prohibitive anyway for both the documents and the software chains handling them when there are millions (yes, millions) of ebooks to upgrade.
  • while the Web is both HTML (more and more) and XHTML (less and less) without issue, EPUB is XHTML. When the whole world eventually moved to html5, the EPUB world was still struggling with XHTML 1.1 (no kidding). The HTML serialization of html is still an unknown alien in the EPUB world.
  • and so on.

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