Archives for category: #dbw

EPUB format Digital Book World University has launched and I’m excited to teach the first course! Straight-Text-EPUB is now open for registration. It’s tailored for those who know InDesign, have a basic knowledge of CSS, and have making their first ebook on their to-do list of professional goals. You can even use your own manuscript! If you don’t have your own, you can choose a title from Project Gutenberg. You can find out the prerequisites on the course’s description page.

Why did we start with using InDesign? We’ve heard from many print designers who want to make the transition from print to digital. The problem is that nobody has much time between deadlines, more deadlines, and having a life, to sort through all the training information available out there. Let me walk you through the steps of making an ebook using the tool that’s already familiar to you: InDesign. It’s not the only tool out there but it has a solid place in the print-to-digital workflow.

Here’s the outline of the course:

Week 1: Digital Workflow and EPUB Project Plan

1. Know the difference between ebook vendors, ereaders, and formats
2. Think like an ebook consumer
3. Keep up with ebook technology
4. Plan your ebook project

Week 2: Beginning with InDesign and Graduating to Dreamweaver

1. Follow file naming best practices
2. Format your text consistently
3. Check your punctuation
4. Map your styles
5. Control the order of content and plan section breaks
6. Create robust navigation
7. Insert metadata
8. Create a cover
9. Export to EPUB
10. View the results in Adobe Digital Editions

Week 3: EPUB Validation and Editing in Dreamweaver

1. Validate your ebook often
2. Choose the correct software to edit the EPUB
3. Plan for opening and closing the EPUB
4. Know what makes up the inside of an EPUB
5. Check the navigational TOC
6. Understand the difference between HTML and CSS
7. Design your ebook
8. Specify or embed fonts
9. Use color carefully
10. Refine the metadata

Week 4: Kindle Conversion, Quality Assurance, QED Seal

1. Collect vendor spec documents
2. Plan your QA process
3. Predict QA issues
4. Convert to Kindle
5. Aim for the QED Seal

Every week you will turn in a weekly project for personalized feedback from me and our message boards will be open for discussion of the week’s lessons. A sample EPUB will be included in your materials that you can copy markup from and keep for future reference.

Even if you are not a book print designer but know InDesign / or if you have already made an ebook but want to refine your workflow and get personalized feedback / or if you are a beginning ebook freelancer who wants to learn best practices from an in-house professional ebook developer, do join us! It will be an intensive four weeks of learning and at the end you’ll have a consumer-ready ebook ready for your portfolio or for publishing on iBooks, Nook Color, Nook Touch, Kindle Touch, and Kindle Fire.

If you don’t join us for this course, check back at Digital Book World University for future course offerings. If you have any questions before registering for this course, please let me know in the comments. This first session starts on Monday which is just a few days away. I look forward to sharing this digital journey with you.


Apple recently announced that it has adopted the ePUB3 standard. Any day now the rest of the ebook vendors will follow suit and those of us in digital publishing will have to flip the switch and start producing ePUB3-compliant ebooks that pass validation.

It took me a fair amount of time to learn and implement the ePUB2 standard, so just considering this change nearly rendered me paralyzed until I attended two ePUB3 presentations in 2012: The Digital Bindery’s presentation at TOCCON and Matthew Diener and Liz Castro’s presentation at PePCON. At these presentations attendees learned that there doesn’t have to be a vast difference between an ePUB2 ebook and an ePUB3 ebook; in fact, if your content doesn’t call for the bells and whistles of ePUB3, you need not do more than apply the basic ePUB3 specs.

Now for the context: I tend to agree that the majority of ebook readers just want to read and that enhancements such as audio and video and interactivity are not as in-demand as are clean, portable, and quality-inspected texts … at least as far as our own content goes. Our sales data backs that up. Also, our workflow is, for the most part, a one-epub-for-all-vendors-and-devices workflow. Our ebooks will still be read, for the majority and for now, on ePUB2 ereaders and ePUB3 features will break or be invisible (Javascript pop-up notes, MathML, multi-column formats, support for Asian languages, and the list goes on and on … ). All that being said about our workflow needs, I’m excited about the ePUB3 spec because it does address some of the basics that have been lacking, such as better support for fonts, styling, and languages; for linking and references; and for metadata. And someday those features will be supported on all ereaders.

That brings us to the work at hand: When tasked with evaluating the minimum spec changes we’d have to learn and employ to flip the switch from ePUB2 to 3 for our own digital publishing program, I came up with this as my to-do list:

  • Replace the toc.ncx with the toc.xhtml (but for now we’ll include both for backwards compatibility with older ereaders)
  • Update content.opf:
  • Use the .xhtml extension instead of .html (an issue we’ll have to deal with when QA’ing older titles)

… and if you embed fonts keep in mind that now only WOFF and OpenType are supported. That’s right, no more TrueType, but you can use a font converter.

This is my to-do list to test this week. I have an existing ePUB2 file that I’ll amend with these new specs and validate, validate, validate. I’ll update this post with the results … as well as any adjustments I had to make during testing. I share this in the spirit of giving back to the #eprdctn community, but keep in mind that I’m still learning and can’t help with troubleshooting answers regarding ePUB3, except I can always commiserate! And keep in mind that there are vendor-specific requirements already existing (iBooks suggests versioning, for instance) and to come.

Off I go to flip that switch on.

The cover of the latest issue of The New Yorker magazine pokes fun of the current trend of merchandising in bookstores. I wonder if the bookstore employee will ask this confused customer if he wants to try one of those ereaders on display?

Update: Thank you to all who attended tonight’s meeting! I hope it was helpful. InDesign is a good tool to prepare your book for the ePub format. The coding part was to demonstrate what else is possible (the more code you can learn, the more control you’ll have over your end product). Here’s the link to the presentation slides [PDF] and here’s where you can find my resources article on Digital Book World. I hope they both help you in your own experimentation with the ePub format. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. Cheers!

• • •

Update: You can click here to download the demonstration materials (zipped folder). The “before” InDesign files and ePub file and the “after” InDesign files and ePub file are included. The exact fonts are not necessary for the InDesign file (feel free to substitute them). I included a few PDFs as well (ePub coding snippets, ePub InDesign template checklist, and my Dreamweaver workflow for your reference).

If you want to follow along, you’ll also need InDesign (CS4/4/5.5), these AppleScripts, a text editor or Dreamweaver, and Adobe Digital Editions. I’ll be working on a Mac so these materials are meant for the Mac platform.

There’s a lot to cover in the presentation so I’ll be moving fast. But these are the materials I’ll be using, so even if you don’t want to follow along during the demo, you can still check them out before or after.

A special thank you goes out to Liz Castro for giving me permission to re-use her sample InDesign files!

• • •

Hello to the Boston IDUG members attending the “Using InDesign to Create eBooks” meeting on Wednesday. I’m looking forward to showing you how InDesign can be used to create an eBook. But that’s just the start. Opening the exported ePub file and knowing how to adjust the code will help you make your eBook look great and to validate so that it can be uploaded to the major eBook retailers. My demonstration will show you how to do this. I’ll also show examples of why it’s important to have a quality assurance (QA) system in place so that your eBook workflow is set up to make a good-looking eBook every time. You’ll come away with checklists and resources to enable you to start making your own eBooks right away.

Check back on Tuesday to download the materials if you want to follow along with the demonstration (update: materials will be available by 9:00 tonight). Then just bring your laptop and InDesign. I’ll be demo’ing from CS4 but CS5 and 5.5 (lucky you!) are fine too. See you there!

Here’s the details

Boston InDesign User Group Meeting
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
6:30 PM – 9:15 PM
MassArt Tower Building – Trustees Room
621 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
Free, registration required.

As an additional advantage to attendees and IDUG members, AGI Training is announcing a special discount offer on their latest offering in ePub training:

EPUB Training Class
Monday, June 6, 2011
120 Presidential Way, Woburn, MA
Call to register: 781.404.4072
IDUG MEMBER DISCOUNT: $95 per trainee (Non-member price is $495 per trainee … a $400 discount!)

Are you involved in eBook production? Or do you want to find out what it’s about? Then you should check out the #ePrdctn hashtag on Twitter. That’s where many smart and generous people involved in eBook production hang out, swap tips, and answer questions. Just attach “#ePrdctn” to the end of a Tweet for it to be picked up by others following the #ePrdctn feed. Or simply follow the tag, no participation required … but we’re a friendly bunch, so say “hi.” And just like that, you’ll be part of a diverse and active community.

Most Wednesdays at 11 AM (Eastern Standard Time) we have #ePrdctn Hour: either a roundtable (open general discussion or sometimes a special topic kicks things off, feel free to jump in) or we have a guest who specializes in an area of eBook production (feel free to jump in after the guest is introduced and Tweets).

I find myself “favoriting” so many Tweets of tips and helpful links. Thought I could try to archive some of these #ePrdctn hours, so …

Here’s the #ePrdctn Roundtable discussion from today. It started with those of us who use Dreamweaver to edit ePubs. I’ve copied my own Tweets and screenshots below. And here’s the hour in a Word doc.

First, to set the record straight: I’m not using the WYSIWYG design preview to edit or preview. Only using DW in code view to edit. • Others have said this, I’ll just reiterate: DW can do weird stuff to code in design mode. And WYSIWYG doesn’t apply to eReaders. • Main reasons I use DW to edit ePubs is 1) I’m already familiar with it from learning code to built websites 2) It came with our CS. • So far DW has never given me issues. But I’m very open to learning other editing software, especially BBEdit, Coda, and Sigil. • So basically, I’m using DW as a big ole text editor. Here’s some tips on what I’ve found useful to know so far. • Disable “Blahblah is app downloaded from the internet…” in Terminal when opening unzipped HTML files. • If text in HTML opens as one big paragraph, go to Commands / Apply Source Formatting to auto break code into small paragraphs. • DW supports regex. BTW here’s a tutorial I have found useful for learning regex for code wranglin’. • I use regex to put div’s around a head & first para so heads don’t land alone at end of iBooks “page”:

Find and Replace searches on current doc or all open docs w/ window to see finds. Good consistency check:

And here’s my ePub toolkit (download here as a PDF). Subject to change as I get around to learning other ePub editing software:

If you weren’t able to join us and you use Dreamweaver to edit ePubs, feel free to leave any tips in the comments below.