In an earlier post, Barnes & Noble Nook Vs. Archos 5 Internet Tablet: Round Two, I closed with this:
One flaw in that video: Aldiko did not create a thumbnail of the cover; it’s using a generic placeholder. I will ask about that and report back.
I doubt anyone but me would have even noticed that. But I did and it bugged me.
I had to know what was going on here.
So I contacted Aldiko and this is what they said:
The epub format does not mandate a specific syntax for defining what image file, if any, corresponds to the book’s cover. We have to resort to using a heuristic to try to guestimate which files would be a good candidate to use as a cover image (e.g. a png file containing ‘cover’ in its filename would be usually be a good candidate). Over time we’ve tweaked our algorithm to handle most major sources (Feedbooks, O’Reilly…), but I would not expect it to work all the time. My guess is that the ‘Michael Jackson’ file probably defines it’s cover image in a way that is not recognized by our algorithm. Again, if only the epub format had a standard way to indicate cover images, we wouldn’t have that issue.
So this led me to look at the files that comprise the Michael Jackson book.
The cover is inside the Images folder and is called 9780446565684.jpg!
This led me to investigate the structure of several other commercial ePubs — ones people are likely to buy or borrow from libraries — and it’s all a mess!
Every structure is different. How the cover image is called is different. What the cover is called is different.
What a frikkin mess!!
Prior to this, I’d been used to seeing ePubs that sensibly had an image called COVER.JPG. That made everything straightforward and uncomplicated for everyone.
Now I’m seeing that chaos has erupted in the so-called “ePub standard” and no one can count on anything working properly, period!
So ePub covers not showing up on the Nook’s color LCD screen? That turns out not to be a flaw of the Nook at all.
It’s a flaw of the underlying ePub “standard.”
What this means is that any software that generates thumbnails of pretty covers is destined to run into problems and likely FAIL, substituting a generic cover as Aldiko did in that test.
As if we weren’t already being cheated with eBook covers as it is! Now we’re also being cheated out of proper thumbnails!
This is just incredible.
How can a so-called “standards body” allow this mess to continue all these years? Isn’t there anyone at the IDPF who has a brain and could see this mess coming? Srsly?
What happens now? Do publishers revise all of these files to permit easy thumbnail generation? Will people have to pay twice for that — for something that should have worked to begin with?
This is even more evidence that Apple digital books will wipe out ePub.
Apple wouldn’t let crap like this happen.
Dig it, IDPF:
It’s called CoverFlow. Have any of you ever heard of it?