I’m sure at some point you’ve downloaded a preview of an ebook from your ebookstore of choice. Sometimes the content is utterly useless in terms of deciding whether you want to purchase the book — a bunch of front matter splatter. Is reading the copyrights, preface, dedication, etc. really useful? What if there’s an index at the back you’d like to look at? What if you’re the content creator who wants the reader to have access to that index?
Of course, sometimes you get useful previews, but I’m trying to highlight the problem of previews being in the hands of vendor: you can never be completely sure what will be in them. Unless the publisher runs the ebookstore, it’s not their choice what you see.
The EPUB Previews specification seeks to flip that paradigm back around so that the content creator is the one who decides what goes in the preview. The specification is not yet a recommendation, but should be sometime (hopefully early) this year. As it’s one of the more stable specifications the working group has published, I thought I’d give it a quick run-through, but caveat emptor if you try to jump the gun on it becoming a recommendation.
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