Store user annotations in the EPUB file

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I am a user of the EPUB format, but I have not fully adopted it over physical books because of one main reason - user annotations - bookmarks, highlights, notes, etc... to the best of my knowledge do not stay with the EPUB book but are proprietary to each reader (I did a few brief tests with a couple of readers and this seems to be the case). So if I change readers and open a book that I marked up in another reader my annotations will be lost. This is not so much of a concern for the immediate future as I don't intend to change readers often, but say in 5 or 10 years I go to re-read a book and I'm using a totally new system/platform/reader - to loose all my annotations from the last time I read it is unacceptable. In contrast, while physical books may be cumbersome and yellow with age, I know that my annotations will be there as long as I own the book.

Does the EPUB format support storing user annotations in the book.epub file in a non-destructive manner?
If it does, are there any readers out there that store all of the user annotations in the book.epub file?

If the EPUB format does not support storing user annotations in the book.epub file, can I please request to add the feature to the specification? Much like in digital photography when using the DNG raw format user edits can be stored in the photo.dng file and I am reasonably confident that DNG files will be able to be viewed in 5, 10, 20 years.

Does anyone else share my concern?

I am ready to make the switch from physical to electronic and would love to not have a bookshelf full of books much like I no longer have a shelf full of CDs, but please let me keep my annotations in a device and software independent format (i.e. in the EPUB file).


Hi Rafael,

IDPF CTO Markus Gylling mentioned last month during his talk at the IDPF Digital Book 2013  conference that IDPF intends to begin work on an Open Annotations for EPUB initiative, with a plan to align with work by the W3C Open Annotations Community Group. Stay tuned for more details very soon! The goal is to support both in-file and separately stored (for example in a personal cloud) annotations on publications, with a consistent data model. 

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