Archives for posts with tag: publishing

We have explored how the longest name in the world in an ebook about world records did (or did not) wrap on ereaders. Then we explored how a soft-hyphenation character entity could be used to make the word wrap.

This post follows up with how that same character entity can throw a wrench into the works … because, after all, this wouldn’t be ebook production without a solution immediately causing a problem!

Rick Gordon asked me if the soft-hyphenation character entity broke the dictionary and search functions in ereaders. I inserted the entity into the first instance of the word “language” in the introduction:

The word language with a soft-hyphenation character entity

And here are the results:

THE ENTITY AND FUNCTIONALITY
Ereader Engine Dictionary Works Search Works
Adobe RMSDK
Adobe Digital Editions v2.0 n/a YES
Nook Color NO NO
Kindles (EPUB pushed through KP)
Kindle iPad App YES YES
Kindle Mac Desktop App YES YES
Kindle Fire HD YES YES
Kindle Paperwhite YES YES
Kindle mobi (in KP) n/a n/a
Kobos
Kobo Eink: Aura YES YES
Kobo App for Android NO NO
Kobo App for iPad NO n/a
Web-based Ereaders
EPUBReader in Firefox YES YES
Readium in Chrome YES YES
iBooks NO YES

Does the soft hyphenation character entity work on ereaders? Yes.

Does the entity work with the dictionary function? Depends. Sadly, NookColor and iBooks don’t play nice. iBooks? Wow! Kindles FTW.

Does the entity work with the search function? Depends. That’s fine except for NookColor. This may or may not be a problem for you, depending on your consumer base and/or your ability to predict the future.

Takeaway

If you are producing an ebook intended only for Amazon, you are in luck … as of June 2013.

If you are producing an ebook intended for iBooks, Kobo, or Nook … well, you may or may not care. Use at your discretion.

I think I’ve exhausted this investigation into soft hyphens in ebooks. I thank all for their input.

On that note, does anybody know an iBooks developer to whom I can send these results?

Screenshots
As always, click to make ’em larger.
Adobe RMSDK-based ereaders
Kindles
Kobos
Web-based Ereaders

Adobe RMSDK-based ereaders

Nook Color

dictionary_NookColor

Kindles

Kindle iPad App

dictionary_Kindle_iPad

Kindle Mac Desktop App

dictionary_Kindle_Mac

Kindle Fire HD

dictionary_Kindle_Fire_yes

Kindle Paperwhite

dictionary_Kindle_Paperwhite

Kobos

Thank you Laura Brady for the screenshots.

Kobo Eink: Aura

dictionary_Kobo_eInk

Kobo App for Android

dictionary_Kobo_Android

Kobo App for iPad

dictionary_Kobo_iOS

Web-based Ereaders

EPUBReader in Firefox

dictionary_Firefox_EPUBReader

Readium in Chrome

dictionary_Chrome_Readium

iBooks

dictionary_iBooks_no

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So Mr. Hubert Wolfe+585, Senior, was giving us trouble last week. During the QA review for the ebook version of The Book of Word Records the longest name in the world quickly became our longest e-problem in the world. (Did you know he was a typesetter? I don’t know whether to scorn him or admire him.) Last week I posted screenshots of how his name rendered on ereaders. The name is so long that it is essentially one paragraph of unbroken letters. If you know ebooks, you know that the inconsistent rendering of hyphenation is a problem. In this case some ereaders didn’t render hyphens, some rendered hyphens for the last few lines only, and only two ereaders (actually, ereader apps for the iPad) rendered hyphens correctly at the end of every line.

The solution is to manually insert soft hyphens into the name (thank you India and Nick). Let’s end the suspense. Here are the before and after results:

HYPHENATION RENDERING IN LONGEST NAME IN THE WORLD (EPUB2)
Ereader Engine Hyphenation
WITHOUT soft hyphens
Hyphenation
WITH soft hyphens
Adobe RMSDK
Adobe Digital Editions v2.0 last line only all lines
Nook Color last few lines only all lines
Kindles (EPUB pushed through KP)
Kindle iPad App all lines all lines
Kindle Mac Desktop App no lines all lines
Kindle Fire HD no lines all lines, see screenshot
Kindle Paperwhite no lines all lines
Kindle mobi (in KP) no lines no lines
Kobos
Kobo Eink: Aura last few lines only all lines
Kobo App for Android no lines all lines, see screenshot
Kobo App for iPad all lines all lines
Web-based Ereaders
EPUBReader in Firefox word doesn’t wrap all lines
Readium in Chrome word doesn’t wrap all lines
iBooks word doesn’t wrap all lines

But now I had to figure out where to insert the soft hyphens. The first thing I did, for kicks, was to insert a soft hyphen after every letter in the name. This yielded the exact results I expected: it crashed ADE. (Yeah, ADE ain’t all that but usually if something crashes ADE, it will crash ereader devices.) I briefly considered going to my copy chief but then I thought I’d try a little sleuthing myself before my problem became her problem. I went to Wikipedia, copied Mr. Hubert Wolfe+585‘s name, and pasted it into Dreamweaver.

Wikipedia entry

Wikipedia entry pasted into Dreamweaver

Hyphens appeared in (what looks to me) appropriate places in the name! So I manually replaced each hyphen with a soft hyphen and ended up with 76 soft hyphens (down from the 589 soft hyphens after each letter).

Here’s the paragraph ready for prime time in Dreamweaver:

Dreamweaver with ­ inserted

And here’s the paragraph in a variety of ereaders:
Adobe RMSDK-based ereaders
Kindles
Kobos
Web-based Ereaders

Adobe RMSDK-based ereaders

Adobe Digital Editions v2.0

Adobe Digital Editions v2.0

Nook Color

Nook Color

Kindles

Kindle iPad App

Kindle iPad App

Kindle Mac Desktop App

Kindle Mac Desktop App

Kindle Fire HD

Note the space automatically inserted before the soft hyphens

Kindle Fire HD

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle mobi (Kindle Previewer)

Kindle mobi (Kindle Previewer)

Kobos

Thank you Laura Brady for the screenshots.

Kobo Eink: Aura

Kobo Eink

Kobo App for Android

Note the space automatically inserted before the soft hyphens

Kobo App for Android

Kobo App for iPad

Kobo App for iPad

Web-based Ereaders

EPUBReader in Firefox

EPUBReader in Firefox

Readium in Chrome

Readium in Chrome

iBooks

iBooks

Takeaway

So if you ever find yourself needing to split a record-breaking word give soft hyphens a try. One caveat: these are EPUB2 files and this soft hyphen is a named character entity, as Jorge reminds us:

Name_Twitter_AFTER

Is this solution future-proof and will it work in EPUB3? It remains to be seen.

UPDATE LATER IN THE DAY: Rick tells us that there is indeed a numeric character entity for the soft hyphenation character (remember that named character entities are not allowed in EPUB3):

Good advice

And I’m encouraged to put these into action by John:

More good advice

I put the numeric character entity to the test:

Name_ENTITY

… and the results in the table above are still sound. Sometimes it takes a village! I’m encouraged by this testing and, although this is a manual one-at-a-time process, this feels like one itty bitty step towards better ebook typography. Please let me know if you have additional devices you would like to see added to the table.

If you want to learn more about the history of soft hyphenation for the web then you’ll want to read this very thorough account. I found this paragraph particularly illuminating:

Conceivably, people want fast solutions to their problems. When we see the problems which arise from Web browsers using no hyphenation, we pay attention to the worst cases and wish we could solve at least them, and solve them now. The simple idea of giving an explicit hyphenation hint suggests itself. Several popular text processing programs allow you to enter “hidden hyphenation hints” that are normally invisible. This is probably how people started thinking that there must be a character for the purpose, and when one looks at the ISO Latin 1 specification, what else could one use but soft hyphen?

No, this solves nothing. But at it least sheds light on why browser hyphenation is such an issue.

Finally, on a lighter note, you can listen to Mr. Hubert Wolfe+585’s name pronounced here:

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

Introduction
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
Conclusion

Week 2: Beginning with InDesign and Graduating to Dreamweaver

Introduction
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
Conclusion

Week 3: EPUB Validation and Editing in Dreamweaver

Introduction
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
Conclusion

Week 4: Kindle Conversion, Quality Assurance, QED Seal

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

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.

The publishing industry is in a constant state of change these days, what with these new technologies and ebooks and ereaders and apps and whatnot. The changes can be overwhelming and so it’s good to put it into context. Sure, the printed book has been around, it feels like, forever but even the printed book has gone through its fair share of change.

I was browsing last month in a used bookstore in Greenwich Village, NYC, when I came upon The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski. When I handed the book over to purchase it, I mentioned to the owner of the bookstore that I was a print book designer turned ebook designer but I still loved print. He responded, in a bitter tone, “I like the first part of that but not the second. You guys are gonna put me out of business.” So remind me not to mention ebooks in a used bookstore. What I had intended was to start a conversation regarding digital versus print and I did mention that I personally don’t feel that print books are going away … but he wasn’t in the mood, or buying it, or something that prevented me from connecting to him.

Anyways, I’m enjoying the book and it’s full of reminders that reading matter has always been evolving:

“In the early centuries of [a.d.], bookshelves had to accommodate, in addition to scrolls, a growing number of bound manuscripts, or codices, which in time would displace scrolls as the preferred format for books. The codex, named for the face that it was covered with wood (codex means “tree trunk” in Latin), and which led to the term “code” in a legal context, was made by folding over flat sheets of papyrus or parchment and sewing them together into a binding. This had several distinct advantages over the scroll. Where an entire scroll might have to be unrolled to find a passage near the end, the relevant page could be turned to immediately in the codex. Also, writing in a scroll was normally on one side only, whereas the codex lent itself to the use of both sides of the leaf.”

(above, click on pic to enlarge) “In the sixteenth century, books began to have authors and titles, and the date of the edition imprinted on their spines. As long as the practice was far from universal, however, not all books were shelved spine outward. Here, a book not so imprinted is identified by a slip of paper tipped into an inside cover and folder over the book’s fore-edge.”

“Although cloth binding as we know it was first adapted to book-binding in 1823, ‘a style of binding uniform for all copies of the same book’ did not appear until around 1830, when machinery was introduced to letter the cloth-bound cases that could be fitted over the printed guts of a book. This development ushered in a new chapter in the way books were made and sold. Whereas the bookseller would bind or have bound, by hand of course, only as many copies as were likely to be sold in the immediate future—a form of just-in-time manufacturing [my note: doesn’t this sound like modern print-on-demand?]—with the advent of machinery the publisher itself began to bind an entire edition of a book in the common style of the time.”

Sure, we’re in the midst of a change in publishing … and it’s not the first time. Sure, it can be scary and uncertain and can make us fight over what we see the future as coming to. But the bottom line is that as long as people keep writing books and reading them and relating to each other through them, it’sallgood. And we can be proud to be a part of that chain that connects us all.

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.