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Author Topic: Ebook Publishing  (Read 1802 times)

LesPalenik

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Ebook Publishing
« on: November 29, 2015, 11:32:40 am »

Preparing digital books in EPUB or PDF is relatively straightforward - as long as it is a text-only publication.
Incorporation of pictures can constitute considerable challenges, especially when nowadays the e-books can be opened on multitude of reading devices - ranging from phones, tablets of different sizes, dedicated ebook readers, laptops and desktop computers with high resolution screens. I've seen photography ebooks where images are split over two pages, divorced from captions or related descriptions, and in general made unwieldy.

Is there an easy-to-use e-book software that can create adaptive e-book formats for all these devices?
From my quick research I found, that Creatavist (which is an online subscription service) offers most features, followed by ebook programs Maestro Pro and Apple iBooks. Since iBooks is available only for Apple ebook versions, and Creatavist subscription service will deter many potential authors, Maestro Pro seems to be the most suitable option. Or is a specialized page layout software, such as InDesign, Microsoft Publisher or Serif Page Plus better suited to handle the multitude of all possible readers?
 
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Peter McLennan

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Re: Ebook Publishing
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2015, 11:37:55 am »

I have little experience with ebook publication, and a little with print publishing.
I find inDesign very capable and powerful, with excellent integration with other Adobe products. 
Adobe claims extensive expertise in digital publishing.
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LesPalenik

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Re: Ebook Publishing
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2015, 06:12:47 pm »

Peter,

No doubt that InDesign is very capable. If anything, it is an overkill for a simple ebook.
But how does it handle adaptive design for various screen and device sizes?

Do you design your pages in a fixed size and shape or do you keep the book in a free-flowing format? 

Another complication I'm grappling with, are panoramic images. In a paper version of a book, I often used a two-page spread to show a panoramic image. Even in a relatively small size (i.e 6"x9" horizontal book), I can use a 18" long (5,400 x 1800 pixels) image, spread over two pages.
Since in the ebook we can work only with one page at a time, the simplest way to display a panoramic image is to scale it down, let's say from 5,400 pixels to 800 pixels. Unfortunately, using the above 5400x1800 example, the image height would be reduced to only 300 pixels which drastically changes the impact of a panoramic image.
I was thinking about a clickable option that could move the image horizontally (manually or automatically) or just expand it to full size and leave it to the reader to navigate the picture as in a window within a large image. How does InDesign deal with animated pictures or short video clips?
 
                                                                             
« Last Edit: November 29, 2015, 06:19:49 pm by LesPalenik »
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Peter McLennan

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Re: Ebook Publishing
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2015, 06:56:48 pm »

Peter,
No doubt that InDesign is very capable. If anything, it is an overkill for a simple ebook.

Better to have to much power than not enough.  If cost is an issue, perhaps you could subscribe for the duration of the project only?

Quote
But how does it handle adaptive design for various screen and device sizes?
Laboriously.  I investigated it, but decided that it wasn't worth the work for the simple website I did.  If people insist on viewing photography sites on their phone, fine.  I'm not going out of my way to accommodate them.

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Do you design your pages in a fixed size and shape or do you keep the book in a free-flowing format?

I've only done print (Blurb books) and that pretty well requires a fixed page size.

Quote

Since in the ebook we can work only with one page at a time, the simplest way to display a panoramic image is to scale it down, let's say from 5,400 pixels to 800 pixels. Unfortunately, using the above 5400x1800 example, the image height would be reduced to only 300 pixels which drastically changes the impact of a panoramic image.

This might be an issue with the presentation software.  For instance I see magazines online with a two-page spread view available.  You're still stuck with whatever aspect ratio that two page spread provides.

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How does InDesign deal with animated pictures or short video clips?                                                     

I've never tried it, but it claims to be able to embed videos and animations. 

There are tons of tutorials on the web for inDesign.  Lynda.com has some, too, but they're by paid subscription.
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LesPalenik

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Re: Ebook Publishing
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2015, 08:41:24 pm »

Quote
No doubt that InDesign is very capable. If anything, it is an overkill for a simple ebook.

Better to have to much power than not enough.

Paradoxically, one would appreciate the power and myriad of features of a fully fledged page layout software more for the design of one page advertising flyer rather than for a simple 300-page ebook. Except perhaps for file export format, where Indesign can handle a number of output formats.

I have used both Quark Express and an early version of InDesign, even PageMaker for paper versions of books, however for a simple book page layout I never needed a lot of bells and whistles. Over the last twenty years, I have created about ten small color photography books both for large print run CMYK lithographic printing and small-volume of Blurb print on-demand books, typically with one or two pictures per page, plus a caption or a short paragraph, with quite a few two-page full-bleed spreads showing panoramic images. For these types of printed books, even a 15-year old page layout software or the latest Blurb program will do just fine.

For my planned ebook project, I'd like to keep it again simple. For each page, I envision only one or two images accompanied with some text above or below, plus occasional URL link or some video/animation widget. My dilemma is whether I'll have to constrain the design to the fixed page layout or whether the software will properly handle sensible pagination, free-flowing text and different reading devices.

Nowadays, the ebook options and challenges differ drastically from a paper book version, especially when taking into consideration the responsive or adaptive format display. Not only that, but with the availability of 4K monitors and iPad Pro tablets one could now lay out the ebook quite differently than for simple EPUB or PDF format displayed on a smartphone. Let's hope that we'll soon see new developments and more flexibility for the large display ebook formats, enabling to see features as two page spreads and properly sized panoramic images.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2015, 09:30:21 am by LesPalenik »
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