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Bookworm’s public home page (the one you see if you’re not logged in) has a new look. This is just one of many changes in the largest update since the site launched in July 2008.

Much more public content and help

When I conceived of Bookworm it was largely a way for me and other developers to experiment with ePub books. ePub isn’t a difficult specification and I felt the best way for me to understand it was to implement it, leaving the ugly parts of rendering XHTML to the browser.

Since July, publishers have been accelerating their release of ePub books, and with more devices beginning to support ePub, it felt like time to re-focus Bookworm away from developers and towards readers and publishers.

To that end, Bookworm now includes a tour of the site, a completely new help page with some suggestions for common problems and a rewritten About page that describes the goal of the project.


There’s a need for more ePub information targeted at publishing technologists: people who are either actively converting to ePub or are still assessing whether the format is a match for their needs. Bookworm is ideally suited as a platform for publishers to test ePubs or to QA new workflows. Much of the new content is written with this audience in mind.

More advanced developer guidelines

Developers’ needs are still very important to me, especially as ePub evolves. Bookworm provides more visibility into how the site implements the ePub specification, and which features of the specification it does and doesn’t support. I’m hoping this can start a conversation among those organizations which already know that ePub is for them, and are moving to the next level to make full use of it.

User-interface enhancements

It’s now possible to add a book from any page on the site, with just one click: try hovering over the “Add a book” link in the upper right. There are other small details that should make the reading experience smoother, too.

Other code fixes and improvements

This release includes a large number of behind-the-scenes changes to expand the range of ePubs that are accepted. I’m especially grateful for a user’s assistance in fully supporting Chinese language content.

Still coming…

I’ve been promising the ability to search individual books or across one’s library for a long time. Putting that off was tough, but I felt it was more important to make Bookworm easier and friendlier to use. Now I’m going to focus on features that will really take advantage of Bookworm’s online nature in a way that standalone readers and devices just can’t do.

Tags: bookworm, ebook, EPUB, eReader,

3 Responses to “New release of Bookworm: improved user experience and public content”

  1. Daniel Weck

    Hello !
    First of all, keep up the good work. Bookworm is a promising online reading service. I’m under the impression that it only supports XHTML (?). Are there plans to support ePub books written in DAISY/NISO DTBook ?
    Thank you.
    Regards, Daniel

  2. liza

    Hi Daniel,

    I do discuss DTBook briefly here, but you’re correct, Bookworm is presently XHTML-only.

    I’d like to be able to support DTBook as well. I need to do some more reading on the format, but I also need some help from the community:

    1. What would be best way to “support” it? Convert DTBook to XHTML internally and render those books in the browser like the XHTML-native ones? Or allow DTBook content to be loaded but defer to some kind of external text-to-speech application that understands DTBook already? Or something else?

    2. I’ll need some ePub+DTBook content to test with, which I haven’t come across. (I could make my own, but it’s always preferable to use real content.)

  3. Daniel Weck

    Hi Liza, here’s a sample ePub using DTBook:

    (Valentin Haüy was the founder of the first school for the blind)

    If you are curious about the DAISY standard for Digital Talking Books, here’s a link to the equivalent DAISY 2.02 book, conveniently available online. I’m not sure why the online player does not work on my machine, please ask the developer if it’s the case on your machine too:

    Please note that DAISY 3.0 makes use of NCX+DTBook instead of HTML+NCC, and that ePub is based on technologies derived from this latest DAISY standard.

    Regarding the IDPF/OPS specs, here is a direct link to the DTBook part:

    Finally, I’m pretty sure you’ll be interested in the DAISY-Pipeline project, which can be used to automate document conversion processes. They provide a desktop GUI as well as a command-line build, and they are currently working on a server-side implementation:

    Kind regards, Daniel