iBooks ePUBS now keeps Navigation History

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In this technical note about a recent eBook that I created, I wrote about the need to include a hyperlink (back to the page where you came from), on the target page. It seems that this is no longer necessary with an ePUB inside the iBooks app on the iPad/iPhone.

Why? Because in version 1.2 of iBooks, it seems that a history of the navigation pathway is kept while the eBook is open. This is then utilised to display (at the bottom of the page) a 'back to page x' hyperlink, when the navigation items are showing*.


If you go back to the library in the iBooks app, then this 'history' is cleared. This makes sense. There is also an extra link on the bottom right of the page, when the history notices that you have returned from a 'go back to page x' link. This second link simply states 'go to page x' - meaning 'you have been there once - go there again (so to speak)'. This text replaces the normally available 'x pages left in this chapter'.

If you change the font size within iBooks, then this history is wiped clean. This makes sense!

So, this is iBooks. What to do about other eReaders; Adobe Digital Editions doesn't help, nor does the Sony eBook reader. It looks like we need to accommodate other devices and readers with hard coded back links.

Maybe we could use CSS to hide those links when the iBook app is identified with:

@media screen and (orientation:landscape), @media screen and (orientation:portrait) {
.backlink {display:none;}

Is there a better way to determine that iBooks is being used (an version 1.2 or above!)?

This is certainly something to experiment with. The trouble is - there are now a lot more ereader devices on the market. How on earth can we know what kind of navigation interfaces they are providing?


iBooks on the iPhone is the same as the iPad except that the link back displays 'Back to p.x' and 'Go to p. x' --- on account of the limited space.

*Navigation items (such as Library, TOC, Bookmarks etc) show if you simply tap once anywhere on the open book.

Posted on 16 Dec around 10am


Extra words from Chris Jennings:

This makes the need for a bespoke ‘go back’ link unnecessary. But then what of other ePUB readers?

Posted on  01/12  at  04:20 PM

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