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.