Thursday, August 12, 2010

Apple releases new guidelines for video

As I mentioned last week after seeing how Nixonland was in the iBookstore with embedded video using HTML5 tags, the situation in Apple's iBookstore had to change. Nixonland didn't satisfy one of Apple's primary requirements—passing EpubCheck validation—since EPUB 2.01 requires XHTML 1.1 and not HTML5. Either Apple had to change the rules, or admit that it had bent them just for Simon and Schuster.

As I expected, Apple changed the rules. In its new Publisher User Guide 1.3, released late today to publishers in the iBookstore, it no longer even mentions EpubCheck, though it continues to require that books comply with EPUB 2.01 while at the same time expressly allowing audio and video embedding. The new guide also explains how to embed PDFs and links.

The actual code explained in the guide is no different from that which I already explained in this blog and just uses basic HTML5 tags to embed both audio and video.

I have uploaded a new EPUB book, called Embedding Audio and Video in EPUB to the iBookstore as a bit of a test. You can download that document and study the code it contains. Pay particular attention to the video and audio elements, as well as how they are declared in the content.opf file. I have included step-by-step instructions as well.

My enhanced ebook doesn't strictly satisfy every single requirement set forth in the new guide. For starters, I don't have the Compressor 3.5 tool that the guide says is necessary as it is only available as part of Final Cut Pro. Instead I have used QuickTime. I also haven't added black frames at the beginning and end of each video, although the guide says this is important. I noted that Apple's own sample doesn't have black frames either. There are also fairly stringent specified requirements for frame rate, source material, and other more advanced video topics. As soon as I can sleuth out how serious these requirements are, I'll report back. I'll also let you know if and when my ebook is accepted into the iBookstore.

I am pleased that Apple has released these new guidelines. My only wish is that they would release them publicly so that we could all pore over them, make tests, and figure out exactly how this is going to work. Apple needs us all to create content. They should make it easy for us.

Just for the record, before anyone starts saying EPUB is dead again, note that I believe that EPUB will eventually encompass HTML5. I don't have any backroom knowledge about this, it just seems logical that it will, that it must. But that won't make it any less EPUB, since it will still require the content.opf and toc.ncx to combine the XHTML 1.1 or HTML5 files into a defined, reflowable unit, that is, an ebook.


  1. Where can i get the "Publisher User Guide"?

  2. I wondered that myself Liz. Why not offer a url or provide the user guide for download?

  3. Yes please, do provide a link to the guide as it's frustrating not to have the regs. - as you say, Apple want us to create content so why are they making things more difficult than they need to be?

  4. I agree that EPUB will include necessary parts of HTML5.

  5. To publish books on the iBookstore, you have to create an account on iTunes Connect ( and once you do, they give you access to the Publishing guidelines. Yes, it's ridiculous and should be made public.

  6. iTunes Connect not much use if you are not in the US and so do not have a US Tax ID :-}

  7. @Sebastian. Agreed. Right now Apple only allows folks with US Tax ID to publish on iBookstore. Of course, you can self-publish EPUB books for the iPad and sell them off your own site (like I am doing) and your books don't have to pass EpubCheck, Apple's guidelines, or anything else.

    Personally, I think validating an EPUB is a smart thing to do (standards save time, give more predictable results, etc.)

  8. Dear Liz,

    I greatly appreciate for this good news. I don't have to spent my time any more for embedding audio file in epub with current epubcheck 1.0.5.

    Just will be suitable .... ^^

    Thanks again...

    Louis Chan

  9. Liz, just tried your instructions (and apple's where I could) but the m4v file does not play. The posterframe is pulled and the path to the mov file is accurate as far as I can tell, but the dreaded no play icon appears.

    Also of note, I tried in my test to use your css and apple's on two different m4v files and neither applied the centering. This may have something to do with the file not being found. (Did enter the info in the content.opf in the correct place in the manifest and checked the path there)

    any suggestions? I wondered if somehow there is some hitch in exporting from quicktime without the elaborate specs Compressor would apply available in the export...

  10. The first thing that I would check is that the path is correct. Did you type m4v and not mv4? (I do this all the time.) Try testing it in Safari first.

  11. It doesn't appear to be a typo.

    Here is the reference in content.opf within the manifest delimiters:

    popped the epub open in springy and the extensions are indeed:

    I wasn't sure how to test in Safari - dragging and dropping onto a Safari window doesn't work. I can double click and the m4v opens in itunes and plays.

    Here is the xhtml:

    * * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * *

    If the references are okay you would think it was the export. But as I say, the mov files open and play?

  12. whoops, looks like the code isn't allowed. let's try again without the < item and open and close "<>"open and close:

    id="brushes47.m4v" href="video/brushes47.m4v" media-type="video/mpeg4"
    id="brushes47.jpg" href="images/brushes47.jpg" media-type="image/jpeg"

    id="fuDog.m4v" href="video/fuDog.m4v" media-type="video/mpeg4"
    id="fuDog.png" href="images/fuDog.png" media-type="image/jpeg"

    Here is the xhtml:
    video src="video/fuDog.m4v" poster="Images/fuDog.png" controls="controls"

    * * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * *
    video src="video/brushes47.m4v" controls="controls" poster="Images/brushes47.jpg"

  13. Your video solution works a treat! Thanks

    There is still an align left problem when exporting from CS5 whilst it works fine exporting from CS4 (without TOC). Could it be related to exporting with TOC?

  14. Thanks for this. My first attempts yield videos that I can watch on the iPad, though I can't see the poster on it. I haven't been able to pin down what is wrong--I can see the poster in calibre (though of course the video won't play).

  15. Hi Liz! Just one thing, I was under the impression that autoplay="auto" didn't work in Mobile Safari and therefore not in iBooks... Have you made it work?

  16. I made a multimedia version of my book, Bipolar In Order. The non-multimedia version is already on the iBook store. The new one has 20 videos, one at the beginning of each chapter for a total of 60 minutes of video plus a 6 minute song. It works great on my iPad and passes the initial test on uploading it via iTunes Producer, but has been trying to upload all day. It uploads several MB of the 671 MB total and then stops for a long time (around an hour). I tried to see if it was uploading one video file at a time and processing it, but the last step didn't come even close to any existing file.

    Any ideas why it is taking all day?
    According to I have:
    Download Speed: 21159 kbps (2644.9 KB/sec transfer rate)
    Upload Speed: 3784 kbps (473 KB/sec transfer rate) - which should be able to upload the whole thing in much less than an hour.

  17. Update on my video book upload: After 23 hours it is finally uploaded and processing. It uploaded 6.7 MB chunks and then waited 30 to 60 minutes between uploads, but it is hard to be exact on the delay because I never was there to see it happen two times in a row.

    Hopefully it will get past "Import Processing" and begin the long slog of "Pending" approval. I have another book in "Pending" since August 14th, so they are obviously way behind. The Publisher User Guide 1.3 says multimedia ebooks will take even longer.

  18. Hi, Liz:

    Does anyone know if you can size this video to fullscreen? With height and width attributes? Have a client that wants to embed full-screen HD video movie.

    Anyone experimented with this?

  19. Hi, All:

    Never mind! Experimented with Liz' sample, and you don't need the h & w attributes for the video display, unlike, say, Youtube; works a treat without them. Thanks,


  20. Just found out, that anyone can download the PublisherUserGuide Version 1.3 freely at

    You don't even have to have an iTunes Connect Account...


  21. I created my eBook as a technical manual because I am an audio engineer. My topic is on MIDI TIMECODE and this is used by electronic musicians.

    I added a Quicktime Video to the .pdf document and embedded it.

    Now this one company wants my book but I cannot find how to keep the audio video content with the book using the ePub conversion.

    Can i add a Quicktime movie to an ePub?

  22. Yes! You can add a QuickTime movie to an EPUB file. Download the EPUB mentioned in the post above, it gives instructions.

  23. Thanks so much for all that you are doing Liz! Is there any way to pull in video I have stored on Amazon's cloud servers?

  24. @John. No, I don't think so. Pretty sure that iBooks requires all content to be contained within the EPUB itself.

  25. Thanks Liz for the great guide! Just managed to build a working epub with audio & video.

    Regarding the US Tax ID: Everyone can get that, also non-US Residents. I work for a german software company, and we have a US Tax ID. The application is just a little bit of paperwork and free of charge.

  26. Hello Liz,
    nice to read your blog and thanks to some link find here I discover what make my e-book refused in ibookstore. What is optional in the international epub rules are a must for apple.
    Just a simple question, I downloaded your embedding video etc epub but there's no video playing inside the epub even it is contained in the opf and I saw them in the epub opening it with sigil. I tried to read it with adobe digital reader and with firefox ereader plugin but no video is embedded in your page.
    Does it work only in mac and with apple devices? I run win xp sp3 firefox 4.0 or adobe digital reader.
    Thank you for replying me.

  27. @wocmultimedia Yes, it only works in iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, and NOOK Color. See for more details.

  28. Thank you Liz for your reply, I wish you a very good succees...Angelo


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