Readium Web Publication Manifest


  "@context": "",
  "metadata": {
    "@type": "",
    "title": "Moby-Dick",
    "author": "Herman Melville",
    "identifier": "urn:isbn:978031600000X",
    "language": "en",
    "modified": "2015-09-29T17:00:00Z"

  "links": [
    {"rel": "self", "href": "", "type": "application/webpub+json"},
    {"rel": "alternate", "href": "", "type": "application/epub+zip"},
    {"rel": "search", "href": "{?query}", "type": "text/html", "templated": true}
  "spine": [
    {"href": "c001.html", "type": "text/html", "title": "Chapter 1"}, 
    {"href": "c002.html", "type": "text/html", "title": "Chapter 2"}

  "resources": [
    {"rel": "cover", "href": "cover.jpg", "type": "image/jpeg", "height": 600, "width": 400},
    {"href": "style.css", "type": "text/css"}, 
    {"href": "whale.jpg", "type": "image/jpeg"}, 
    {"href": "boat.svg", "type": "image/svg+xml"}, 
    {"href": "notes.html", "type": "text/html"}


While the Web is the largest collection of interlinked documents ever created, it lacks a mechanism for expressing how a collection of resources, when grouped together can represent a publication.

Publication formats such as EPUB or CBZ/CBR group these documents together using a container format, making them easier to archive or transmit as a whole. But they also break an important promise of the Web: the resources of a publication are not available through HTTP to any client that would like to access them.

W3C has recently provided a definition for a Web Publication:

A Web Publication (WP) is a collection of one or more constituent resources, organized together in a uniquely identifiable grouping, and presented using standard Open Web Platform technologies.

It also provides a definition for a manifest in the context of a Web Publication:

[…] manifest refers to an abstract means to contain information necessary to the proper management, rendering, and so on, of a publication. This is opposed to metadata that contains information on the content of the publication like author, publication date, and so on. The precise format of how such a manifest is stored is not considered in this document.

Readium Web Publication Manifest is an attempt to standardize a JSON based manifest format that follows both definitions.

To facilitate the interoperability between EPUB and Web Publications, this document also defines a number of extension points to fully support EPUB specific features.

Abstract Model

The Readium Web Publication Manifest is based on a hypermedia model inspired by Atom, HAL, Siren and Collection+JSON among others.

There are three core concepts to this model:

Collections are identified by their role and they can either contain:

  • metadata, links and other collections for “full collections”
  • or just links for “compact collections”

The Readium Web Publication Manifest is a full collection in this abstract model.

JSON Serialization


This specification defines two collection roles that are the building blocks of any manifest:

Role Semantics Compact? Required?
spine Identifies a list of resources in reading order for the publication. Yes Yes
resources Identifies resources that are necessary for rendering the publication. Yes No

Additional collection roles are defined in the Collection Roles registry.

Extensions that are not registered officially must use a URI for their role.

A manifest must have one spine collection where the main resources of the publication are listed in the linear reading order:

"spine": [
  {"href": "/chapter1", "type": "text/html"},
  {"href": "/chapter2", "type": "text/html"}

Other resources that are required to render the publication are listed in a resources collection:

"resources": [
  {"href": "/style.css", "type": "text/css"},
  {"href": "/image1.jpg", "type": "image/jpeg"}


JSON-LD provides an easy and standard way to extend existing JSON document: through the addition of a context, we can associate keys in a document to Linked Data elements from various vocabularies.

The Web Publication Manifest relies on JSON-LD to provide a context for the metadata object of the manifest.

While JSON-LD is very flexible and allows the context to be defined in-line (local context) or referenced (URI), the Web Publication Manifest restricts context definition strictly to references (URIs) at the top-level of the document.

The Web Publication Manifest defines an initial registry of well-known context documents, which currently includes the following references:

Name URI Description Required?
Default Context Default context definition used in every Web Publication Manifest. Yes

Context documents are all defined and listed in the Context Documents registry.

The Readium Web Publication Manifest has a single requirement in terms of metadata: all publications must contain at least a title in their metadata.

"metadata": {
  "title": "Test Publication"

In addition to title, this specification also recommends including @type to describe the nature of the publication described by the manifest.

"metadata": {
  "@type": "",
  "title": "Test Publication"

The Link Object is used in links and in compact collections to list resources related to a collection.

It requires at least the presence of href and type:

Name Value Format Required?
href Link location. URI Yes
type MIME type of resource. MIME Media Type Yes
title Title of the linked resource. String No
rel Indicates the relation between the resource and its containing collection. One or more Link Relation or URI (extensions) No
properties Properties associated to the linked resource. Properties Object No
height Indicates the height of the linked resource in pixels. Integer No
width Indicates the width of the linked resource in pixels. Integer No
duration Indicates the length of the linked resource in seconds. Float No
templated Indicates that the linked resource is a URI template. Boolean, defaults to false No

A manifest must contain at least one link using the self relationship. This link must point to the canonical location of the manifest using an absolute URI:

  "rel": "self",
  "href": "",
  "type": "application/webpub+json"

A manifest may also contain other links, such as a alternate link to an EPUB 3.1 version of the publication for example.

Link relations that are currently used in this specification and its extensions are listed in the Link Relations registry.

Content Documents

Contents documents are the resources listed in the spine collection of a Web Publication.

Any text, image, video or audio format that can be opened in a Web browser is a valid content document format.

Discovering a Manifest

To indicate that a content document is associated with a particular Web Publication Manifest, use a link element in the HTML head:

<link href="manifest.json" rel="manifest" type="application/webpub+json">

The manifest can also be associated with any resources served over HTTP using the Link header:

Link: <>; rel="manifest";

Finally, a manifest may also be embedded in an HTML document using the <script> element:

<script type="application/webpub+json">
  "@context": "",
  "metadata": {"title": "Example"},
  "links": [
    {"rel": "self", "href": "", "type": "text/html"}
  "spine": [
    {"href": "chapter1.html", "type": "text/html", "title": "Chapter 1"}

Table of Contents

A Web Publication Manifest can indicate that a table of contents is available using the contents relation in a Link Object listed in spine or resources:

  "rel": "contents", 
  "href": "contents.html", 
  "type": "text/html"

The Link Object must point to an HTML or XHTML document.

A client may also rely on the title key included in each Link Object of the spine to extract a minimal table of contents.

The EPUB extension also defines specialized collection roles for embedding various tables of contents directly in the manifest.


A Readium Web Publication Manifest can also provide a cover using the cover relation in a Link Object listed in spine, resources or links:

  "rel": "cover", 
  "href": "cover.jpg", 
  "type": "image/jpeg", 
  "height": 600, 
  "width": 400

The Link Object must point to an image using one of the following media types: image/jpeg, image/png, image/gif or image/svg+xml.

Packaging a Web Publication

The Readium Web Publication Manifest is primarily meant to be distributed unpackaged and exploded on the Web.

That said, a Readium Web Publication Manifest may be included in a classic EPUB, but reading systems have no obligation to access the manifest.

If a Readium Web Publication Manifest is included in an EPUB, the following restrictions apply:

  • the manifest document must be named manifest.json and must appear at the top level of the container
  • the OPF of the primary rendition must include a link to the manifest where the relationship is set to alternate
<link rel="alternate" href="manifest.json" media-type="application/webpub+json"/>

In addition to the EPUB format, a Readium Web Publication can also be distributed as a separate package:

  • the package itself must be a ZIP archive
  • the manifest document must be named manifest.json and must appear at the top level of the package
  • all resources in spine, resources and links that are referenced using a relative URI, must be referenced relatively to the manifest
  • its media type is application/webpub+zip
  • its file extension is .webpub
  • a publication where any resource is encrypted using a DRM must use a different media type and file extension