Liz Castro: EPUB Straight to the Point

by Joel Friedlander on July 23, 2010 · 60 comments

Post image for Liz Castro: EPUB Straight to the Point

It’s no secret that I’ve spent an entire career designing and producing books for print: letterpress, offset and now digital printing, but all print.

I’ve been a little uneasy about the rise of the eReaders and the coming of the eBooks, (and the iBooks). I’m excited about the technology, sure. Publishing is changing forever. A lot of the things we can do with digital text make texts useful in ways we never imagined in 500+ years of printed books.

But the reality of those same ebooks has been—let’s face it—ugly. I know I’m not the only book designer who has wondered whether there would even be a place for design in the coming Era of the Ebook. I’ve written often about the lack of iPad font choices, the terrible hyphenation and justification, the ragged word spacing and the apparent lack of any controls to create something that just looks decent. Something that shows there was actually a designer behind it.

Elizabeth Castro's EPUB Straight to the Point for self-publishers

Link to Amazon (affiliate)

With the introduction of the iPad hopes were high that Apple, purveyor of great industrial and interface design, would rescue the ebook from the design purgatory it had fallen into. But no. Sure, the interface of the iBooks app is good, and the look is slick. But the books didn’t look much better.

I’ve also gone off in search of ways we print designers could use our expertise to bring some order—maybe even beauty?—to ebooks.

The Challenge of EPUB

Clients frequently ask if I provide conversion to ebook formats, and I invariably refer them to one or another company where the people already know all about EPUB and MOBI (the variant HTML used by Kindle) and the idiosyncracies of the other ereaders.

Creating EPUB files looked to be the work of specialists. Like a lot of other print designers, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to take it on.

Liz Castro’s EPUB Straight to the Point will change all that.

Breakthrough Simplicity

Liz Castro is the author of a number of books on computer software, most notably her bestselling HTML, XHTML, and CSS, (Sixth Edition), Peachpit Press. Published in 2006, it’s number 1 today on Amazon in both CSS and HTML books.

In EPUB Straight to the Point: Creating ebooks for the Apple iPad and other ereaders, Liz has applied her prodigious skills in instructional writing, technical problem-solving and graphic design to the problem of the ugly ebook. (Note: all the screenshots in this article were taken on the iPad using the EPUB version of the book in the iBooks application. You’ll need to click them to see the full effect.)

Liz Castro's EPUB Straight to the Point

At the top of the page, a tip. Subheads and bullet lists are reversed from bright red panels and boxes. Graphics are placed with precision, captions are well-scaled and positioned, the whole page is a minor revelation. Click to enlarge.

The book itself is conclusive proof that we no longer have to consider the EPUB books we’ve been reading inevitable, a limitation of the software standard itself. Liz Castro has cracked the code on creating beautiful, functional ebooks.

Liz shows in a lucid, logical and humane style exactly how to do everything you see in the book itself. Here’s the way the book is laid out:

  • Introduction—Liz gives a cogent summary of the differences between ebooks and print books. She explains EPUB and the market full of different ereaders. Concentrating on Apple’s iBooks, she explains the anatomy and dimensions for the iBooks pages. At the end, Liz answers the question, “Who is this book for?”

    This book is for anyone who wants to publish an ebook in EPUB format, particularly on the iPad, but for any ereader that supports EPUB, including the Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook, Ibis Reader, and Stanza. It explains how to use Word and InDesign—software you may already own and which might already contain your formatted books—to generate the files necessary that make up the EPUB, as well as how to manually create or improve the files in order to take advantage of the capabilities of the most advanced ereaders, without leaving underperforming ereaders too far behind. I believe strongly in following standards so that a book that works today will continue to work tomorrow in the next new ereader that comes along.

  • Elizabeth Castro's EPUB Straight to the Point and Word Styles

    You'll learn how to use Word Styles to make your EPUB

  • Using Word to Write EPUB—Liz leads the reader step by step, with lots of screenshots pointing out what to do. At some stages, she actually gives you keystroke-to-keystroke steps. Along the way you’ll get a good primer in using Word’s styles, one of the most underutilized parts of the program.
  • Elizabeth Castro's EPUB Straight to the Point

    Liz shows how to deal with images in EPUB

  • Using InDesign to Create EPUB—This long section describes in detail how to use InDesign’s powerful formatting and search tools to prepare files for EPUB conversion. Liz explains the mental shift print designers have to make to learn to think of EPUB as a linear format. She gives detailed blow-by-blow instructions with copious screenshots of setting up files, applying paragraph and character styles, and placing graphics in-line with the text. Check out the screenshot in this article that shows the Find/Change box, using the GREP operators (all explained in simple English). Liz is doing a search for the Character Style “Drop Cap” and replacing it with the exact same thing. How long do you think it would take you to figure out this one formula for preparing your text?
  • Elizabeth Castro's EPUB Straight to the Point, iPad fonts

    Here are the iPad fonts, with instructions. Click to enlarge.

  • Inside an EPUB file—Here Liz tells you in simple terms how to deal with EPUB files, which are a collection of ZIPped XHTML files. You’ll learn in detail how to create a cover for your EPUB, validate it, take it apart and put it back together, along with the best tools for the job.
  • Elizabeth Castro's EPUB Straight to the Point helps with iPad fonts

    Yes, it's code, but just follow the step-by-step

  • Advanced EPUB Formatting—Well, here’s the bad news, if you (like me) are not an HTML programmer, don’t know much about CSS or XHTML either. You will have to get your hands dirty to clean up EPUBs from Word, to fine tune InDesign’s EPUBs, and generally to make your EPUB book the this one does. Okay, that’s the pain. On the positive side, Liz gives, as usual, step by step, plain language instructions that make the unthinkable, thinkable. This section includes a complete discussion of handling iPad fonts and the implications for iPad typography. And here, in book form is the list of fonts available on the iPad, and samples. Liz explains:

    • The mysteries of fonts, text alignment and page breaks
    • Adapting to the different ereaders
    • Spacing and indents, borders and backgrounds
    • Styling text with drop caps and small caps, si
    • Working with images
    • Creating links, tables and placing video in your ebook
Elizabeth Castro's EPUB Straight to the Point

Another beautifully balanced page showing Character Style options in InDesign

A Guide for the Ebook Transition

At some point in the future we will have tools for working on EPUB files, and less need to know the nitty-gritty that goes on behind the scenes. But now, anyone who wants to create great-looking books for the iPad or any other EPUB reader needs to deal with XHTML and CSS. Liz Castro’s EPUB Straight to the Point is the best guide I can imagine, patient and detailed, guiding you every step of the way.

This book is destined to be a great seller, and it deserves to be. Anyone responsible for creating EPUB files, or anyone considering publishing an ebook will want this book. It will guide you through the entire process. And simply owning it will show you just how good an EPUB can be.

Takeaway: Liz Castro’s EPUB Straight to the Point is a fantastic resource with clear instruction and should be in the ereader of anyone whose work involves dealing with EPUB and iBooks.

EPUB Straight to the Point (ISBN: 978-0-321-73468-6) is available for $29.99 (before discounting) before the August 8, 2010 publication date for pre-order on Amazon.com (affiliate), Barnes & Noble and Peachpit Press. The EPUB version is available for $20.00 now from the book’s website. It will soon also be available as a PDF.

Liz is a regular in the #ePrdctn chat on Twitter and you can connect with her at @LizCastro

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    { 47 comments… read them below or add one }

    Gary Chapman July 17, 2012 at 5:31 am

    A really stimulating discourse — I am still hunting for something similar which also explains about how to use apple’s pages software instead of indesign or word. I am designing my books using pages and pages has the ability to export to epub after using apple’s epub template. The trouble is I am having formatting problems and can find no ‘in-depth’ guide or advice anywhere….

    Reply

    Jack Smith March 9, 2012 at 5:14 am

    http://www.ebookconversion.com/ also offers special features with books for kindle, epub

    Reply

    Ron April 5, 2011 at 8:25 am

    This book looks intriguing. I wonder, though, how useful it might be to someone who has neither Word nor InDesign, nor a couple hundred expendable to run out and get them. Pages and AppleWorks before it will save docs in Word format; is that good enough? Word isn’t even available for the iPad, so it’s kind of ironic that a book meant to help you compose *for* the iPad might be of little use in composing *on* the iPad!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 5, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Ron, this book is pretty specific in its focus on working with the ePub files that InDesign exports. However, there is a tremendous amount of useful material in general about formatting ePub files to display well on Apple’s devices, particularly the iPad.

    Reply

    Dee January 12, 2011 at 9:42 am

    I currently design books for print. And we are moving toward also creating ePubs of some of our print titles. I want to be able to take a completed and _approved_ InDesign file – and re-work it as necessary to become an ePub book…. or do I have to re-invent the thing after the book has gone to print? Exporting the text and starting over to create the ePub version? Or can I just work with my original InDesign file?
    Does Liz’s book have a work flow that covers that? I’m sure I’ve seen tutorials on the Adobe TV site that look like it is possible.
    I am currently reading “How to Create an eBook with Adobe InDesign CS,” and in the first step the author is creating a brand new “web-intended” document…. Does that mean it’s easier to start over from scratch?
    I’d love to see a work flow that starts from an existing document. Converting existing documents seems a more realistic to how most people will be getting into ebooks. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking…

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander January 12, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Dee,

    Liz’s book is specifically designed for people who want to produce ePub files from InDesign’s epub export (available at least in CS4 and improved in CS5). Once you get into it you’ll see that the best workflow involves (ideally) structuring the book file and using styles in such a way that the conversion process is much smoother. However, if you have existing books, you can still get them to epub, but you may have to either rework your InDesign file or do a lot of cleanup in the epub files. I think this book will help you significantly.

    Reply

    Derek Oscarson January 4, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Joel, how did you make books using letterpress? I’ve been getting into it and thought about maybe making covers in letterpress but not sure if I’d make the interior pages that way.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander January 12, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Derek, there’s really no difference between using letterpress to produce the printed signatures and using offset printing. The rest of the process is identical. However, unless you have your own letterpress this is likely to be very expensive for a commercial book. Do you have some particular reason you want to do letterpress? Let me know.

    Reply

    Printmonkey October 9, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Thank for the review – this book sounds like vital reading – i’ve just placed my order.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 9, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, it looked pretty thorough to me.

    Reply

    Vin Dang September 17, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Hi Joel,

    At the start of this post, you mentioned that you generally refer clients to other companies who specialize in EPUB creation/conversions. Can you share those recommendations? I’m at the start of a project and wanted to explore all my ebook options.

    Anyhow, love your site—it’s incredibly informative. Keep up the great work! Thanks.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 17, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Vin,

    Some of the people I’ve recommended are:
    kindleformatting.com
    b5mediaworx.com
    aprillhamilton.com

    Although there are many others. Hope that helps.

    Reply

    chris September 17, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Vin,

    Joshua @ kindleformatting (Ebook Architects) is definitely the go-to man on this stuff. Some people may charge under $100 but Joshua will guarantee your file for life.

    Reply

    Douglas Bonneville September 1, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Hi Joel:

    It is copy heavy. I’ll probably edit it down some, but right out of the starting gate a very famous graphic designer gave it a bad review because he totally misunderstood the book. He thought it was a typography gallery, but nothing could possibly be further from the truth. He didn’t understand the book, and probably didn’t read the FAQ very well. I want to avoid people spending money for one thing but getting another.

    I’m working on the ePub version as we speak. The basic graphics look pretty good to me. I’m leveraging the original work for the PDF, but I have to make some pretty basic and extensive mods to account for the display of eInk. No biggie, just my time.

    I’ll send you a link for a copy, but you have to read the FAQ :). Thanks a ton. I love this site, btw. Love it love it.

    Reply

    Douglas Bonneville August 31, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Anders: I just downloaded Sigil and joined the forums. I was imagining what an app might look like and when I saw the screenshot, it was practically the same. Amazing!

    Does anyone know if there is a matrix anywhere that show what features of the ePub format, image format, resolution, etc., are handled by what devices or software? My eBook would certainly benefit from it’s graphics being SVG, if they weren’t too intensive. They are typographic layouts, which would essentially be 1 color very complex drawings.

    Can anyone point to a post anywhere outlining at least some of this info? I’d love to do a big post on this.

    I agree that this is like the browser wars all over again, but hopefully the industry leaders have learned, and we won’t end up with the equivalent of IE6 dragging the industry down for the next decade.

    BTW, I just published my eBook version of my new book on font combinations I mentioned above in this post. No, not gratuitous promotion but only by way of interest since I’m actively developing the print and ePub versions of the book now.

    On another point of self-promotion amongst independents, I’d love to hear some feedback about the landing page:

    http://bonfx.com/the-big-book-of-font-combinations/

    This thread is getting long but it’s a GOOD one.

    Reply

    Anders September 1, 2010 at 12:53 am

    Yes, maybe we are hijacking Joel’s blog post just a little…

    I haven’t seen a matrix about support for specific epub features, but there is a Wiki matrix with a lot of other features for different devices including resolution. It also contains information about which software each device use, this could give you some hints about capabilities. You can find it at http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-book_Reader_Matrix

    I fear that a similar matrix for epub features would contain a lot of noise originating from problems with the epubs themselves. Many times when people thinks the software is faulty it’s really an issue with the packaging, info files or XHTML in a specific file. It’s probably possible to start one at the above wiki which lists software, I don’t know what policies they have. I’m not too good with creating wikis either :)

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 1, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Hey, an ePub wiki sounds like a great idea, I wonder if anyone else has started one. Thanks Anders.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 1, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Douglas,

    Nice job on your landing page. It’s pretty copy-heavy but let’s face it, this is a book for type geeks so having all that copy is probably a good thing. I’m curious how you the ePub version of your book looks. I guess you had to treat all the fonts as graphics? You’ve really contributed a great deal to the whole idea of font combining and I hope your book does well. If you want a review here, send a copy and I’ll be glad to write it up!

    Reply

    Douglas Bonneville August 29, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Clive brings up a great question pertinent to myself.

    I’m a web developer and programmer, as well as designer. If I know what I’m doing with HTML and CSS at an expert level, and I want granular control of my eBook, should I just code it manually?

    For instance, I could easily put my content in a database or XML file and write a PHP program to read that data from the database and wrap it with the right markup and save it to the right format of XML file. If the book was small, I could even code this by hand or with Javascript and simply save the contents output from Javascript to an XML file.

    All “real” web developers code by hand and blow off bloated WYSIWYG interfaces. I’m in that crowd, but know almost nothing about the actual contents of an ePub file at the precise moment, because I’ve only just cracked this open and bought one book.

    It seems like there should be an explicitly delimited ePub app, that doesn’t have a bunch of bloat, and can only do whatever the current standard of ePub allows. Is there such an application on the market yet? Any rumors?

    Thoughts?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 30, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Douglas what I’ve seen lately is more “consumer-level” apps incorporating support for ePub, like Storyist and now Apple’s Pages. What kind of html these programs will generate is a good question, and one I’m unqualified to answer, since all my expertise is in print. But I thought Liz did a great job of drilling down into the details of the ePub format and showing ways to get that “granular” control. Just looking at her book gives a pretty good idea of what you can do if you want to get your hands dirty.

    Reply

    Anders August 31, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Sigil is an open source application which claims to support the full spec. You can find it at http://code.google.com/p/sigil/
    It’s still in beta but it shows promise, it has WYSIWYG as well as code editing.

    Something you should be aware of is that most reader devices have spotty support for the format. You can be sure that any given reader will have a bad implementation of parts of the specification; examples are specific layout features, metadata, unicode glyphs, font types, font sizes, TOC, crosslinks in general, and more.

    We have found that we need to simplify the books as much as possible, and test them on as many devices as we can. You can’t get a consistent layout with anything but the most basic features, but you can make sure that your document is at least usable on most of them.

    Lastly I’d like to mention that the forums at MobileRead is a great resource. There are many knowledgeable epub creators there, and they are helpful and friendly if you ask good questions. You can find them at http://www.mobileread.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=179
    Good luck!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 31, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Anders, thanks for your thoughtful comment. The forums sound like a great resource and I will check them out.

    Reply

    Clive August 29, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Indesign CS5 only arrived recently, so what you’re saying is that all those extant books will have to be re-imported then re-exported then messed around with. This sounds like the work of forever . . . where are publishers going to get all these extra people to do this, considering their revenues are dropping?
    The methods used to create “books” need to change. Everything we have now is aimed at print. Exporting from Indesign to HTML – at least in CS4 – is pretty useless because the css file is minimal. The industry is in a real mess and appears to have been caught unprepared.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 30, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Clive, I don’t know if you use InDesign, but “re-importing” really isn’t separate from “opening” a document, since InDesign converts older formats on the fly, so these are books that are already in InDesign.

    Clearly the integration of a digital workflow into the already existing print workflow is occupying a lot of people in book production, and it is definitely a work in progress at this point.

    Reply

    Clive Warner August 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I’ve already seen how to do this from Indesign CS5 from a rather good video series. That’s not the point. My point is this: the method seems completely backward; this is what I suppose we can expect from a print to paper designer. Why on earth use Indesign to create an XHTML file when there are MUCH better tools – like Dreamweaver – for that. The whole idea is crazy.
    Secondly, I saw nothing in the review to indicate any possibility of doing things like, for example, wrapping text round a graphic on the Kindle. It’s taking the lazy way out to concentrate on the iPad, because the iPad is really just a 7-year-old laptop design with a touch screen bolted on. It’s already got the ability to handle css properly.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 27, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Clive, thanks for your comment. Certainly dealing with InDesign’s EPUB output is not optimal, but I think this book is going to be very useful to publishers who already have thousands or tens of thousands of books laid out in InDesign and need a way to move them to EPUB.

    Reply

    Anders August 17, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    “This is essentially my entire book! But if the image is sized correctly, wouldn’t it always break correctly?”

    Not necessarily, it depends on the resolution of the device and how it handles images. An iPhone and your 24″ widescreen is quite different both in orientation and resolution. You might want to look at embedding the image in an svg tag for scaling, but different devices might not handle it well.

    If at all possible I’d advise you to abandon the concept of fixed pages. I don’t know your book, it might be difficult. For an epub the concept of pages (or lines, for that matter) doesn’t really apply since it’s a flowable format. There might be better ways of presenting your material digitally. As a poster on mobileread said in a friendly manner: “I suggest that you say to yourself three times before brushing your teeth ‘ebooks are not print books'” :)

    Reply

    Douglas Bonneville August 17, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I was thinking I would have to make an edition per reader. The book literally is going to have to be images, 1 per page. It’s all typography and font related, with a fixed display being the crux of the book. Essentially, it would be no different than a photography book, or photo album, with one photo per page. There is no content to flow, other than the header of each page. Each page is exactly one title, one page number, and one image:

    http://bonfx.com/font-combinations-book-free-preview-of-font-pairings-template/

    What you see there is the PDF version. The eBook version is going to be a subset of this page (header, subheader, body, body footer), which is roughly the dimensions of Nook and Kindle standard. The larger Kindle, and iPad, could both read the full size PDF no problem.

    So yes, eBooks are not print books. But the content of this eBook doesn’t exactly flow.

    Can anyone suggest an eBook to look at that is primarily images? Like a photography book? I haven’t been able to find a primarily image based eBook yet, that wasn’t simply a PDF.

    I looked at the Weissberg article. Great resource!! Is he saying in clear terms that if you have a Kindle-targeted file, the ISBN doesn’t make any sense, since it will only ever be on the Kindle? Do you need ISBNs at all for electronic versions then? Indeed, it’s very confusing.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 17, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Douglas, I’ve also been looking for illustrated or art-oriented ebooks, so far without luck. But you know they will be coming. I plan to talk to Liz about her ideas for formatting these, but haven’t gotten there yet.

    Weissberg is very hard to pin down, but I don’t think the whole ebook / ISBN issue has been resolved yet. The one ISBN for all e-editions makes some sense, we’ll see what happens.

    Reply

    Douglas Bonneville August 17, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Very interesting. Perhaps you have another post on this somewhere, but what is so bad about PDFs that don’t flow as a format that Amazon, Apple, BN, etc. won’t sell them and let them be downloaded? Is the whole .mobi and ePub format conundrum unsolvable without a huge leap out of the current mess into some new format?

    Zeldman started a petition to get Apple to deal with typography and embedding fonts. I can’t see that happening in the ePub format, but it assumes the world wants to read documents in one of 3 fonts, forever :)

    HTML is the uber-format, is it not?

    Reply

    L. Steven Spak November 15, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Mr. Joel…I am an illustrator/watercolor artist and just put 7 heavily arted out iBooks out this week…that is why I just signed into your site…sure am learning alot here..

    Reply

    Anders August 17, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Douglas: Your example from your book clarified it for me, and I agree, that one is difficult to pull off as an epub. If you find a good solution I’d appreciate it if you shared it here. I think I’d actually prefer that one as a PDF.

    Regarding large-format books as digital publications: At the academic publishing house where I work, making epubs among other things, we don’t even consider (yet) making available digital formats of our books which relies heavily on rich illustrations. These are mainly reference works on art, media, archaeology and architecture. They are in a “coffee-table format” because the size and the additional clarity and detail of glossy print is needed. The formatting for digital publication is not impossible to do, but electronic displays, software and GUIs are still not satisfactory. This is not actually my decision, but I see where the higher-ups come from on this one.

    The main limitation as I see it is still the existing devices. Lots of exciting formatting options are available in the epub format, as you know it is packaged XHTML as used on most web pages, custom fonts and all. Support on any dedicated device is still touch and go, and the result may well be literally unusable as in “won’t show”, we have to aim for the lowest common denominatior. An additional challenge is the difference in display sizes. I believe all this will improve, give it time, and I’ll be happy to produce digital versions of the large format books that rival the paper versions :)

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 17, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    That’s really interesting, Anders. When I saw the iPad for the first time and had a chance to see the graphic output, I thought that the offset-printed color sheet had met its match.

    I expect Apple will bring the Retina display to the iPad, which will only entice people more. With the awesome functionality available to apps on the iPad and the living feeling of the display, devices like this seem poised to overtake even “coffee table” books once the formatting is worked out.

    Reply

    Douglas Bonneville August 17, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Thanks for the advice. I just got Liz’s book in the mail yesterday, and I’m now ready to start fiddling with those versions I need to create.

    On a related note: if you create a Kindle version and a Nook version and a PDF version, all of those need distinct ISBNs, right?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 17, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Douglas, the current thinking is that you only need 1 ISBN to cover all digital editions. There are some who might insiste each is a distinct edition in itself and requires its own ISBN but so many people rebelled at that idea I don’t think it will fly.

    Check out the interview I did with Bowker’s Andy Weissberg in which he addressed this as well as other ISBN-related questions.

    Reply

    Douglas Bonneville July 27, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Maybe someone knows the answer to this:

    My new book in PDF and print will be fine, but in ePub I’m not sure.

    Each page will essentially have to be an image. Each page is essentially a unique typographic layout. I believe I’m going to have to export each page as an image of some size and resolution. The question is: what resolution do I target so it look good on larger readers, like Kindle DX? And will page breaks “keep” if I have one image per page? The book is 300pp+, all with one image per page.

    I guess the question would be simpler if you think of my book as a photography book with one image per page, and one line of text. Can an ePub do that? Does anyone know of any examples of image-heavy ePubs yet?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 27, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Douglas,

    Have you had a look at Liz’s book? She says the only way to reliably get a page break is with a new chapter. However, she also has exact pixel dimensions for the page, so it may be possible to optimize your book for 1 specific reader, but that may not hold for other readers, which size the page differently.

    Books like yours seem to present special problems. I have a couple of other authors asking these same questions and plan to keep researching this. I’d also suggest you ask this question of the people on the #ePrdctn Twitter chat, that’s where I would go for advice.

    Reply

    Anders August 17, 2010 at 11:53 am

    > She says the only way to reliably get a page break
    > is with a new chapter.

    In my experience every new XHTML file in the epub will generate a page break. You can use Calibre to achieve this by converting epub -> epub, and specifying a a class name in the “Insert page break before” under Structure Detection. You then insert a tag with this class name in the file whenever you want a page break.

    I’ve used this technique for inserting a full-page image before every chapter in a book. You’ll end up with a lot of XHTML files if you use it for every page, which can be slow on some readers which needs more time to switch between files. I’ll have to agree with Liz that it’s the only way to reliably ensure a page break.

    Her book looks very promising, I’ll make sure to buy a copy.

    Reply

    Douglas Bonneville August 17, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    “I’ve used this technique for inserting a full-page image before every chapter in a book.”

    This is essentially my entire book! But if the image is sized correctly, wouldn’t it always break correctly?

    So I ordered the book, and just got a Nook, and have Kindle 3 on the way via preorder. So I’ll get to fiddle with all this!

    First version of the book to go on sale is a good old fashioned PDF. :)

    Reply

    Tina Hoggatt July 26, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Fantastic post with great summation – helpful for those of us who have interest but not the time to preview the book. Thanks!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 26, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Glad you found it useful, Tina. Thanks for stopping by.

    Reply

    Chris July 23, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    “Creating links, tables and placing video in your ebook”

    That point alone is what I need to school up on. I need to try and think more ‘html coder’ less ‘place text’.

    Oh, well, looks like I’ll be spending more time in front of a screen doing everything but writing a book!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 26, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Liz goes to some lengths in the book, Chris, to try to change the “print” mindset to a “digital” one. Challenging.

    Reply

    Chris July 23, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    I’d like to check this out solely for the InDesign section.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 23, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Chris, the InDesign section is about one quarter of the book. It’s very detailed on how to go about the process.

    Reply

    Jon August 22, 2014 at 4:22 am

    I know this article is old, but that is the problem. Now that InDesign is up to Creative Cloud, and there have been many changes, I’m a bit leery of plunking down $20 only to find that much of the book is outdated, and no longer applicable or useable. How much of this book, in particular, in regards to InDesign is useful today with CC? Thanks.

    Also, any plans on discussing iBooks Author, and other resources for creating ebooks? TIA

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 22, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Hi Jon, I think you’d be better to query Liz Castro about that, although much of the book is basic HTML coding for ePubs, and that probably hasn’t changed much. As far as iBooks Author, yes, I hope to cover that in a future post.

    Reply

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