As VentureBeat reports, Google detailed the addition in a short blog post. The feature may be small but it is significant to people who often work with long documents and want to be able to publish them to a native ebook format for digital consumption.
Ebooks can be created from within Google Docs by opening any document, going to the File menu and selecting “Download as.” A new list entry for “EPUB publication” simplifies the process of creating an ebook directly from the document editor.
EPUB isn’t commonly supported among word processors and text editors but is a standard file format for ereaders and smartphone reading apps. Creating an EPUB file usually requires the use of a third-party converter utility, a step that Google has eliminated by baking it directly into Docs.
Ebooks in the EPUB format are supported by apps such as Apple iBooks and Google Play Books as well as dedicated ereader devices including the Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader and Kobo eReader. EPUB is an open file format which has led to wide usage in the ebook market, although the popular Amazon Kindle does not natively support it.
“EPUB is the most widely supported file format for publishing accessible documents and digital books, allowing people to consume long-form content in their preferred apps on a diverse range of screen sizes and devices, including smartphones, tablets, and eReaders,” said Google. “To make it easier for authors, publishers, and academic institutions to create works that can be consumed digitally, today we’re launching the ability to export Google Docs files as EPUB publications. Simply go to the File menu > Download as > EPUB Publication (.epub).”
The feature won’t be of interest to every Google Docs user but will simplify the workflow of those it does benefit. Exporting a file directly from the editor is a much easier process than having to open a third-party app or website just to get a document into the format required for publication and distribution.
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Apple against a ruling that it conspired with publishers in 2010 to raise the prices of ebooks. It attempted to lower the market share of rival Amazon, reducing it to 60 percent from 90 percent but violating antitrust laws in the process.
The ebook market is harder to regulate than physical goods, in part because some devices rely on proprietary file formats. This isn’t an issue with EPUB-based readers, supported by the majority of popular devices and apps and now editable within Google Docs.