Using EPUB 3 and the Open Web Platform for Enhanced Presentation and Machine-Understandable Metadata for Digital Comics

, Tom De Nies , Joachim Van Herwegen , , , Wesley De Neve , ,
In Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Electronic Publishing (2015)

Various methods are needed to extract information from current (digital) comics. Furthermore, the use of different (proprietary) formats by comic distribution platforms causes an overhead for authors. To overcome these issues, we propose a solution that makes use of the EPUB 3 specification, additionally leveraging the Open Web Platform to support animations, reading assistance, audio and multiple languages in a single format, by using our JavaScript library comicreader.js. We also provide administrative and descriptive metadata in the same format by introducing a new ontology: Dicera. Our solution is complementary to the current extraction methods, on the one hand because they can help with metadata creation, and on the other hand because the machine-understandable metadata alleviates their use. While the reading system support for our solution is currently limited, it can offer all features needed by current comic distribution platforms. When comparing comics generated by our solution to EPUB 3 textbooks, we observed an increase in file size, mainly due to the use of images. In future work, our solution can be further improved by extending the presentation features, investigating different types of comics, studying the use of new EPUB 3 extensions, and by incorporating it in digital book authoring environments.