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Reflowable vs fixed-layout

You may open reflowable or fixed-layout EPUB files: what does this mean?

In a reflowable ePub, the content is fluid and fits the size of the screen. If you read on a smartphone, you’ll get properly sized characters, but will turn pages more often. Some good examples of reflowable ebooks are novels and chapter books. But the reflowable format is not always ideal, especially when it comes to designs where the layout is critical.

A fixed-layout ebook defines a viewport, i.e. the size of the “page” in pixels, and usually contains many images exactly positioned relative to text. Some good examples of fixed-layout publications are photo books, magazines and comics. An electronic “page” is the strict rendition of a printed page : on a small screen, you’ll usually have to zoom and scroll in the page (often vertically AND horizontally) to read the text.

The EPUB 2 format (2007) has no concept of fixed-layout; this notion appears in EPUB 3 (2011), along with many other evolutions. Let’s check them.

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The Readium projects provide rock-solid, performant building blocks and applications for processing EPUB3 publications. EDRLab is participating to the Readium codebase maintenance and evolution.

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Support for people wih print disabilities is a key part of our mission. We collaborate with European publishers and major inclusing organizations on the creation of a born-accessible ebook market. We also make sure that Readium projects take into account the assistive technologies used by visually-impaired users.

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