Electric Book Works Publishing reinvented for the digital age

Embedding video and audio

When we created the original Moxyland ebook with an embedded soundtrack (it’s no longer available, long story), the best way to embed rich media in an epub was with Flash. We created Flash video of an audio controller that played an audio track. Then we simply included this in our epub code:

<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="filename.swf" width="400" height="20">
<param name="movie" value="filename.swf" />
<param name="play" value="false" />
<param name="loop" value="false" /></object>

If you’re not technically oriented, don’t worry. The point is that it wasn’t complex.

The problem nowadays is that (a) iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod) don’t support Flash, and (b) Kindle is the dominant ebook environment, and doesn’t really support this kind of embedding. So, while Flash will work on many ebook systems, it doesn’t on the most important ones.

One could create an iOS-optimised epub with sound/video embedded using HTML5, but only HTML5-compliant systems will be able to play the media (iOS devices and good web browsers, but not Adobe Digital Editions and many other ebook software and readers). So it would effectively be an ‘iOS-only’ edition in your marketing.

At the moment, we’re recommending to our clients that they place the video or audio on a media-sharing site (like YouTube, Vimeo, or MixCloud), embed the media on a dedicated site, and link to that site using a regular hyperlink in the ebook.

If you have other methods or approaches, please tell us in the comments. We all need to figure this out together!

Arthur Attwell 1 February 2011
This information is more than two years old, and may no longer be accurate.