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This is our original site. In the past few years, we have developed an HTML5-based Web app for reading ebooks. The app works with a wide range of browsers on desktops, laptops and mobile devices. It was first intended to read the EPUB format recommended by an international organization IDPF. However, we found that EPUB was not an ideal format for Web app. Therefore, we invented the WEB format, which is dramatically simpler and easy to follow. The app, called Web Books Viewer, can read both EPUB (EPUB2) and WEB formats, but our site has stopped making EPUB books since 2011. This turns out to be a wise decision, because virtually no app can provide a good support for EPUB3 after it has been released for more than three years.
The EPUB format has reached a dilemma. If we want to make an EPUB book, should we use the old EPUB2 that lacks advanced features (math, interactive and multimedia), or the new EPUB3 that no app can read? If we are an app developer, should we develop for the old EPUB2 that does not specify advanced features, or the new EPUB3 that nobody can get it right? The failure of EPUB3 has forced Apple's iBooks to use a proprietary iBook format (IBA) for advanced features. Our Web Books Viewer, which takes advantage of the browser's power, can display everything that the browser can: mathematical equations, interactive activities, videos and more.
OpenStax College is a non-profit organization supported by Bill Gates and other philanthropists. They have released 11 high-quality textbooks and plan to publish 10 more by the end of 2017. These textbooks are available for free download in the EPUB format. While EPUB3 is the new version recommended by IDPF, OpenStax College still opted to use the old EPUB2. The reason is quite obvious: NO decent app for EPUB3!
A textbook usually contains problems and their solutions. Ideally, a solution should at first be hidden just beneath the problem, and displayed when the user clicks on a "Show" button. This interactive feature is implemented in the online version at OpenStax College. However, since EPUB2 lacks such advanced feature, OpenStax College has to use an awkward design for EPUB2.
Mathematical equations are common in a textbook (math, physics and engineering). The online version at OpenStax College can display beautiful and scalable math symbols by using math codes. Again, for EPUB2, they have to convert the original math codes into images. Not only is this process time-consuming, the resulting file size will be significantly increased and the images cannot be scaled.
In September 2014, while we were converting the online textbooks at OpenStax College into the downloadable WEB format, we were disappointed by the speed of our Viewer in importing the WEB books. The Viewer is very fast for importing novels that contain less than 50 images. However, a textbook may include over 700 images, which makes the importing process quite slow. By Googling for a better solution, we found the BSON format which is superior to any zip-based formats such as EPUB and WEBZ. Immediately, we decided to switch from WEB to BSON.
The BSON Books Viewer differs from Web Books Viewer only in the import process. After book contents are imported into a local database, they have the same functionalities: bookmark, highlighting, annotation, search, etc. Since the BSON format is better than both WEB and EPUB, the Web Books Viewer will be phased out.
Most ebook contents are placed on this site, which is designed for online reading on various machines: laptops, tablets and smartphones. You can create bookmarks and store bookmarked titles in a bookshelf. The online app also lets you easily navigate through each page in a book (more info).
Last updated: February 25, 2015