Google has quietly updated its documentation to announce that it is now indexing EPUB files, a format widely used for eBooks on e-readers. This update means that EPUB books are now searchable in Google’s index.

What is the EPUB File Format?

EPUB, short for Electronic Publication, is an XML-based eBook format developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum. In 2016, this forum merged with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), aiming to combine electronic book publishing with the Internet for mutual enrichment.

Why Google is Indexing EPUB Content

The decision to index EPUB content aligns with the original intent behind the merger of e-publishing and the Internet. Given this background, it’s surprising that it took eight years for Google to start indexing EPUB files. The update was quietly noted in Google’s changelog:

“Adding EPUB to indexable file types. What: Added EPUB to the list of indexable file types. Why: Google Search now supports EPUB.”

How Does Google Handle EPUB Content?

Currently, it appears that while Google indexes EPUB files, it does not rank them in search results the same way it does with web pages. For example, a site search for a scientific research document titled “Consumption of Contaminated Lake Fish and Reproduction” hosted on journals.lww.com showed the webpage containing the EPUB download but not the EPUB file itself.

What This Means for You

At present, Google’s official documentation confirms that EPUB files are indexable, but not necessarily ranked. This means that while EPUB files can be found using a filetype search, they do not yet appear prominently in regular search results.

Google’s move to index EPUB files is a significant step towards integrating eBook content with the broader web. While it’s still early days and EPUB files are not yet ranked like traditional web pages, this update opens up new possibilities for the discoverability of digital books and documents. Keep an eye on this development, as future updates could enhance the visibility of EPUB content in Google search results.

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