Let's look at the different options, since they're not very self-explanatory.
First, you can find a quick overview on this earlier article about EPUB 3 fixed layout.
EPUB 3 has three important fixed layout rendition properties,
orientation. The first is the one that determines if an EPUB 3 document is fixed layout or not. So, if you want a fixed-layout book, you'll add the following code to the
metasection of your opf file.
And if you want a flowing book, you'll leave it out to use the default value of
reflowable. Can you mix fixed layout and flowing pages in a single book? Theoretically, yes, by adding the property to individual pages in the
spinesection, but unfortunately not in the real world. At least not yet.
spreadproperty determines when pages should be placed next to each other in a 'synthetic' spread. The default is for the first page to be shown by itself on the right, and each two pages after that to be shown opposite each other in a spread. With EPUB 3's
spreadoptions, you can choose to have pages always be shown independently (
none), only when the device is in landscape mode (
landscape), only when the device is in portrait mode (
portrait), in both orientations (
both), or just use the automatic settings of the reading device (
So, for example, here's what it looks like in iBooks if you choose
none. Each page is shown in its own spread.
Unfortunately, iBooks doesn't support any of the other options, which would be very welcome. You might have a fixed-layout book that looks great in two-page spreads in landscape orientation, but that is too small in portrait view. By choosing landscape, you could force the spread in landscape, but allow for the individual pages to fill the device in portrait as well. Hopefully some day in the future.
There are additional page-spread properties that you can apply to individual pages (in the
spinesection) to indicate that a page should always be shown on the left side of a spread or on the right side of a spread. But I have not been able to get them to work in iBooks either.
It does work in Readium, though. Notice how the Introduction page here has been forced to display on the left, which both leaves the previous page by itself (not shown), and pulled the subsequent page next to it:
Readium doesn't seem to support any of the other spread options. No matter what I choose, it always initially shows a single page, and then if I change the options in the Settings box, it shows two.
The third property is
orientation. This is how you force a book to always be displayed in one orientation or another, regardless of the way the reading device is held. The choices are
auto, and the first two options constrain the display to the given orientation.
So, if you choose
auto, the book rotates with the reading device. Here's what it looks when held horizontally:
And here's what it looks like if it's rotated to a portrait orientation:
But if you choose either
portrait, then no matter how the reader holds the device, the book will always be shown in that orientation. Here's a book with the landscape orientation chosen, with the device being held vertically: