Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Bubblin Superbooks?

    A modern ebook reader for the web.

    We're an online cafe of books—meaning, a silent and cozy place to hang out and read interesting classics together. By silent we mean: no advertising, no commenting and no loud and convincing reviews from salesmen posing as other readers.

  2. Are the books free?

    Yes. All books on Bubblin are FREE to read and share with anyone.

    You don't even need to sign up to read.

  3. How do I download a book?

    You don't have to, it works offline naturally!

    Once a book is opened on your browser it will automatically install itself and continue working offline even without a live Internet connection. It's seamless. For those inclined about tech under the hood we use Service Workers to provide this offline-first experience.

  4. But, I like reading offline…

    Yes. All books on Bubblin are "offline-first"—meaning, they work with or without a live Internet connection. This is as close as you can get to the dead tree medium.

  5. Offline-first: what does it mean?

    Offline-first is a form of seamless progressive enhancement that caches a copy of your book into your browser's cache. This process is automatic and seamlessly executed the first time you open a book. Once the book is downloaded it will continue to work normally on your device even without an Internet connection.

    See a list of supported browsers that have service workers enabled for more information.

  6. Is this another e-book format?

    No. There is no new format between you and the actual book.

    It's just plain HTML, CSS and JavaScript strapped together with the behavior and pagination of a real book.

    We think it is a travesty that people (still) have to worry about this file or that format when all they want is to just read a good book. Superbooks on Bubblin are a lot like videos on Youtube. People don't have to care about what camera was used to record or how the file under the hood is encoded. They also don't need to download an artifact before starting a new book.

  7. How does it work?

    Good ol' HTML pages!

    See how a Superbook works and the underlying concept of bifolia and HTML equivalence. In short a Superbook is a bunch of virgin iframes stacked together in form of a book. It is a single page static app (SPSA) with usual markup, style and scripts i.e. HTML, CSS and JavaScript, paginated in form of a book.

  8. How is the support?

    A blank Superbook i.e. the book container is supported everywhere i.e. all devices, all viewports, all modern browsers and all operating systems.

  9. How is the support on e-readers?

    Not quite there yet.

    We tested on a few e-readers on market that sport a web browser but the results weren't satisfactory. One approach to solving this is to have Superbooks default to a plain HTML page with typical styling that scrolls when page flipping or JavaScript is turned off. More updates on e-reader support, especially w.r.t WCAG 2.1 (2018) accessibility guidelines will be announced shortly. Some of these issues about "books on web", their behavior and accessibility considerations are discussed at length on the Frequently Raised Concerns page.

    Feel free to join the discussion and help us build a better system.

  10. What is a Superbook?

    Superbook means Superclass of a book.

    Put simply, a Superbook is a bare bones adaptive e-book container that holds your story together. More explanation about how it works is available here.

    Superbooks use "strong layout" as opposed to fixed or fluid ones elsewhere. Each page is a virgin iframe, a sandboxed code playground, that accepts a very limited quantity of content due to pagination. Since that content of an iframe is good ol' HTML, CSS or JavaScript (i.e. building blocks of web) you can easily combine your frontend engineering skills with book writing and storytelling to create the classiest immersive books ever.

  11. Does it mean we can add code inside of books?

    Yes, absolutely! That's the magical part of it… 🙂

    As a writer you can add programming logic (JavaScript) into your book to make it more interactive or meaningful. Output a visual experiment or an interactive explanation of any sort or a piece of contextual substance that helps the reader understand or grasp a key concept easily.


    View tidal locking between Earth and Moon explained on page number 39 of this demo book on The Solar System.

    Use keyboard shortcuts to navigate:

    arrow keys or the Space bar to turn the page. Press ⌘ + K to see more options.

    Trivially speaking, the content could be anything from plain text to gpu powered shaders. Given that a Superbook can render plain text simply, all novels, textbooks, magazine or comic books that exist as files elsewhere can easily be adapted for web now. Readers will love your book without ever needing to leave the web or their friends.

    Here we list some advantages of Superbooks over other traditional forms of e-books such as the ePub, PDF or KDP.

  12. Please list the main USPs:

    Sure. To begin with, Superbooks work everywhere: on every device, mobile, tablet, desktop and television on the planet. This makes it easy to for you (the writer) to reach your readers anywhere.

    Since we don't use a file system for distribution and rely on web instead, our books are way more accessible and shareable to readers than on any other platform or option on market.

    Superbooks allow coding inside of pages that lets you create contextually relevant experiments alongside static content, with tons of interactivity. Such flexibility isn't possible on a lifeless file that lives outside of web and allow reflows.

    With the ability to add JavaScript inside books you can, for example:

    1. Add a little canvas experiment in your physics book to explain pendulum motion with animation.
    2. Code up a comics book with animated CSS3 characters instead of using heavy GIFs.
    3. Publish a photobook capturing all your memories at one place without worrying about filesize of photos.
    4. Create an album of music videos and a lyrics page side-by-side.

    and so on…

    We believe that adapting books on web can lead us to a stronger web. A web where people enjoy reading books directly from their browsers without needing to download an artifact or owning a specialized (or closed) hardware just for it. It would lead us to better books with clear separation from scrollable content (ala, blogposts or enterprise-y files), better storytelling in terms of content, better accessibility and an openness that has been missing from e-books for so long. We think that Superbooks can lead us to endless creativity and expression of web inside of books, in a way that hasn't been possible until now.

  13. What is the thinking here?

    First principles.

    Physical books are not files. Books belong to children (or the child within us). Files belong to bureaucracy. Books are about creativity, about counter culture and about overthrowing rotten ideals of our society. Files are about encoding those rotten ideals and force them on the society.

    So why should e-books be files at all?

    We feel that online books and their diaspora has not even been invented yet. Our current reality of downloadable files is a lazy shortchange in place of a real online book that is yet to happen. Using shallow enterprise-y software, business style word processors and complex proprietary formats is not what books and their lovers stand for. Why should a reader worry about a format or managing an artefact? As a writer should I just hope that someone will click to download my work of months, navigate to that file and open it to read as opposed to simply read on web?

    These are some of the motivations and questions behind Bubblin Superbooks, and of course we don't have answers to all of them yet. We just hope that some of you will find this project interesting enough and feel that a book should be accessible to anyone and everyone out there with a device that connects to the web. And not just those who could afford a Kindle or an iPhone.

    Our intent is to coalesce the world of books and web together into a single unified resource that is both open and accessible. Bring books straight on web for people to enjoy and share. Make books a first class citizen of web.

  14. Can I publish on Bubblin?

    Absolutely! It is easy and works mostly like a blog. Refer documentation to start a new Superbook, but here's a quick primer too:

    There are two methods to write and publish a Superbook:

    1. Use the in-browser editor on Bubblin, or
    2. Install Bookiza Abelone— An open source "book reification" framework, i.e. a one-stop publishing engine from your local machine.

    The first option (in-browser editor) is suitable for small one-off publications like outing a comics or a restaurent menu. The second option (Bookiza) is a more professional setup meant for long hauls, or periodicals or marathon novels, literature, textbooks, photobooks and other forms of large texts.

  15. I use Scrivener, does it work for me?

    We're looking at integrating deeply with Scrivener.

    An update will be made available when integration is completed.

    That said, you could write and publish a Superbook even today! A good place to start on one is our documentation page. We do have some really powerful low-level open source tools and free templates to help you start any kind of book, comics or magazine for web.

    It takes less than a minute!

  16. Does it integrate with MS Word?

    No, it can't.

    MS Word is designed to create business documents like contracts and not books (a lot has been written about this), so you'd end up creating a DOC file, and several derivative files off that document–like PDF or epub–later on. Following from first principles, books aren't files, and therefore Superbooks aren't either.

    In general, if you're into writing books, we recommend you avoid using MS Word.

  17. Is there a tutorial?

    Here's a quick one on how to write a Superbook using the in-browser editor and layout templates.

  18. Can I sell my books?

    Yes, you can, but not without proof of rights to publish and sell the said material in question.

    Bubblin doesn't allow forbidden content, see our Terms of Service for more details.

    This feature is available only through invitation.
  19. Is this self-publishing?

    Not exactly. It's more like "book making" inspired using app development techniques with push2deploy.

    Book writing isn't an individual activity. You'd need help from your friends, experts, illustration artists, layout designers, editors and other specialists to polish your work (enter Git) before it is ready for consumers. Bubblin and Bookiza can help you achieve the best result for the work of your life.

    Writing a new book? Head over to our tools page to learn more about book making for web or reach us on mail.

  20. Is there an iOS or Android app?

    Native apps are planned. Our first love is web; also it is the last.