epub: Verb or noun?

Come out of your cocoon, Digital Publishing Community: The people who are paying for digital formatting largely do not know that EPUB is a file format. To them, epub is a verb, as in, “to epub,” as in “to publish electronically.”

As far as I’m concerned, the people who are paying for the service can call it whatever they want, and usually I can tell from context what they mean. But when I can’t…that’s where things get tricky. The conversation goes like this:

“I’d like you to format an epub file for me.”

*Me trying to figure out if they already have publisher accounts set up with Apple and Kobo, etc.* Do you mean you want me to make an EPUB file for you?”

“Yes. That’s what I said.”

“All right. That’ll be $xxx due on mm/dd/yyyy.”

“Can I upload that to Smashwords?”

O_o “Erm, no. You’d need a Word document for that.”

“Can I upload it to Kindle?”

“No. You’d need a PRC file for that.”

“Okay, whatever. I just want to epub.”

To the large portion of writers, freelance book designers, and other print-oriented people, epub is a verb. TO EPUB. HAVE EPUBBED. WILL EPUB. Conjugate at will. They have no idea what an EPUB file is or what it’s used for.

And they don’t care.




  1. Mike Cane - Reply

    Oh my god. At least when ad agencies said they’d “Mac” something, people understood WTF a *Macintosh computer* was. These eejits mean “e-publish” and are confused as all hell.

  2. Elizabeth - Reply

    These eejits mean “e-publish” and are confused as all hell.

    Not eejits. Here’s the thing: They know enough to know that digital publishing is where to be, or at least that it’s a viable alternative to them. So what they don’t know that the label has already been taken. That’s more than I can say for some publishers. And, I’d argue, that linguistically, they’re right and that the EPUB file format has encroached upon language evolution.

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention epub: Verb or noun? | B10 Mediaworx -- Topsy.com

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *