Thursday, July 29, 2010

Enhanced Books in iBookstore using video element

Update, 25 May 2011: I have recently published a new miniguide explaining exactly how to add audio and video files to your EPUB formatted ebooks so that they work properly and look great in iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, as well as NOOK Color. You can find more information in this article.

Simon and Schuster released the Enhanced edition of Nixonland, by Rick Perlstein, today. This enhanced edition includes both video and audio snippets. Those of us interested in creating our own ebooks with embedded multimedia have been trying for some time to figure out how to do such a thing AND pass EpubCheck 1.0.5, ostensibly one of the conditions for making it into Apple's iBookstore.

Curiously, though, a look inside Nixonland reveals that this document is not XHTML 1.1 because it uses HTML5's <video> element to embed video, and thus cannot possibly pass EpubCheck 1.0.5.

Either Apple made a concession to Simon and Schuster (most probable) or it suddenly is not requiring EpubCheck validation.

I will be posting more specifics within the day.


  1. Is the source code unencrypted? How did you determine the video element?

  2. The sample is unencrypted, yes. They declare the document as XHTML 1.1 with regular DTD, but use video element. It doesn't validate, can't possibly pass EpubCheck 1.0.5. Apple violated own rules by allowing it in iBookstore.

    (For the record, I couldn't find any audio, but I suspect they use the audio element as well.)

  3. How did you view the unencrypted epub? An iPad app that views source?

  4. To Anonymous:

    These options can be used without a jailbroken device:

    • On a Mac, DiskAid or Phone Disk will allow access to the ~/Media folder.

    • On PC, iPhone Folders

    Dig into ~/Media/Books/Purchases to find individual book contents with a folder coded as XXXX.epub. (XXXX = random 4 letters.)

  5. Thanks Rick! Great info.
    I've got to ask: Rick Gordon=Lloyd Kahn? (WEC?)
    @Liz: It takes a great teacher to learn from a great teacher.

  6. To Anonymous:

    You got the reference. I'm NOT Lloyd Kahn — only Lloyd is Lloyd Kahn.

    But I have worked for Lloyd as Technical and Production Manager of Shelter Publications for about 14 years. My experience with Lloyd doesn't go back as far as the Whole Earth Catalog (though I was buying them).

    And who are you that you got that?

  7. Liz -

    I went to public school, so you'll have to type slow.

    Apple announced that video and audio are supportable in iBooks. I am trying to find what coding I'll need to embed an audio wav or mp3 into an ePub...

    It's funny to me, as they announce that you can do it.. but, of course, they don't tell you how to do it.

    Any bone thrown my way is greatly appreciated!!! More than you know!!!


  8. @Rick - I was, like you, a reader of the WEC, once, long ago. I recognized Lloyd's name —don't know him.

    Thanks again to you for the info and to Liz for such a helpful site.

    Ira Altschiller.

  9. Anonymous:

    Then check out Lloyd's blog He's a very active blogger, and you'd probably enjoy his posts.

    (And it's my css + template modification.)

  10. Purchased the Nixonland book from the iBooks store to have a look. Download time is ponderlously long (several minutes so far and still chewing on it).

  11. "Apple history" epub with video:
    Can you play video on e-ink display?
    No way! Apple accepts video in epub format as an improvement on its devices.

  12. Do you know, or have you tried to embed a video inside a PDF file and then view it inside iBooks as you did with the ePub format? If not, do you think it might be possible? I ask this because AFAIK all video elements inside a PDF are either converted or somehow encapsulated inside a flash object and it seems unlikely that Apple will support that.


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