The state of EPUB rendering: A comparison

A little discussion about the beaten-to-death topic of ebooks vs. paper books reminded me that I once wanted to do comparisons of EPUB rendering in various reader software. Now that the Fate/Zero project is complete, I have finally gotten round to doing it.

A note for readers: Here I focus entirely on rendering accuracy. The EPUB2 specification does have requirements for CSS support, and in this geek’s opinion any self-respecting EPUB reader should at least have some form of CSS support (even if not all features of it as required by the EPUB2 spec are included). Those looking for comparisons of filetype support and ability to render non-compliant EPUB files will have to turn elsewhere.

The test file used here is Fate/Zero Volume 1, downloadable here. It is validated to be error-free under epubcheck 1.2. The following CSS features are employed in this test EPUB file:

  • @font-face embedding support_ (truetype format)_
  • float <div>s (for sidenotes)
  • font-variant: small caps (for sidenotes, chapter leaders)
  • CSS selectors: :first-child pseudo-class (for unindented first paragraphs)
  • CSS3 hyphenation — experimental, using hyphens and hyphenate-resource (body text)
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