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Pages-to-EPUB workaround

15410 Views 63 Replies Latest reply: Jun 18, 2011 11:43 AM by steven from san diego RSS
  • d0csp33d Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)
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    Jun 21, 2010 5:23 PM (in response to Barbara Brundage)
    If you own your data in pages or textedit then it is very easy to create an epub file. Go to http://code.google.com/p/sigil/

    I have done a few files.
    13" MacBook Pro(2.53), iPhone3GS Black, 20'' iMac, ATV, iPad 32 GB, Mac OS X (10.6.3), Windows switcher since 2005
  • Barbara Brundage Level 7 Level 7 (22,075 points)
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    Jun 21, 2010 7:00 PM (in response to Chris Hayden)
    And I see that epub for the bookstore just got even more complicated. I just installed ibooks on my ipod and opened up that sample epub that Terry White did to see what would happen. It isn't pretty--tolerable until you turn the ipod sideways and then…. Sigh.
    iMac C2D 2.16, iMac G5 2.1, flat panel imac 700, ibook G4 1G, Performa 6116CD, Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • Ryan Vetter1 Level 2 Level 2 (460 points)
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    Jun 21, 2010 10:30 PM (in response to Barbara Brundage)
    Just jumping in here. Chris had some good points about PDFs and reflow.

    The question you need to ask yourself, if indeed you are in the camp of wishing that you could sell PDFs on the eBook marketplace, like Apple's eBook marketplace, is this: what will the experience be like?

    The reality is not very good, if you have any sort of images/graphics. What makes reading ePub formatted books in the iBooks App so good is that the text is reflowed and formatted perfectly for that app. It's fast, and the text looks beautiful.

    Realize that Apple has set up the template for books, which includes fonts, background color, etc. You can't change that. In fact, you have very limited control of what your book will look like in the iBooks App.

    PDFs are extremely limited in terms of how they look and work on eReaders. From first hand experience with reading PDFs on the Sony eReader, while I was impressed with the way Sony's software reflowed the text and everything for the reader, some of the graphics did not look good (too small). And then, the user would have to zoom into the graphics, etc.

    The reality is that going from a PDF file to an eReader has been like compiling an App: the end result is not that great. My point then is to go from whatever program you used to write your book, be it Pages or InDesign, straight to ePub.

    And if your images/graphics are that complex, you should ask yourself: can I really sell this book, this book that I have been selling as a paper copy, now ported over to digital form?

    The reality is that the answer could be no. What works in an 8.5" x 11" paper medium doesn't always map over to a digital screen the size of a Kindle, or an iPad. It's not the answer everyone wants to hear I am sure...

    The implication is to redo the book for the digital device. That means, graphics that are too big and unweildly, they need to be changed so they are viewable on the iPad's screen. Thus, you need to reevaluate whether your book is best suited for eReaders or not. If not, you will have to start reworking those suspect areas. Remember, text is just text, and that is pretty much never an issue, it's the graphics/images that cause the problems.
    MacBook Pro 15" 2.4 GHz; Mac Mini 1.83 GHz; MacBook Air 2.13 128 SSD., Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • Barbara Brundage Level 7 Level 7 (22,075 points)
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    Jun 22, 2010 6:02 AM (in response to Ryan Vetter1)
    Well, I won't completely disagree, but I also think you're thinking in terms of only certain kinds of books. For example, my books are currently available as apps (so far only for ipod, don't think they've been resized for ipad), where tapping an image takes you to a larger size, because you NEED to be able to see a larger image. Epub is darned near impossible to do well where there are things like numbered lists or code examples, because those will do very weird things when the reader decides to read in Comic Sans or whatever.

    If you are talking about a novel, or a book like Apple's edition of Winnie the Pooh, yeah. But if you are writing something like a software manual or graphics textbook, epub has even more headaches than PDF at this point, particularly in Apple's implementation.
    iMac C2D 2.16, iMac G5 2.1, flat panel imac 700, ibook G4 1G, Performa 6116CD, Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • tasslehawf Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jun 22, 2010 7:07 AM (in response to Barbara Brundage)
    Barbara Brundage wrote:
    Well, I won't completely disagree, but I also think you're thinking in terms of only certain kinds of books. For example, my books are currently available as apps (so far only for ipod, don't think they've been resized for ipad), where tapping an image takes you to a larger size, because you NEED to be able to see a larger image. Epub is darned near impossible to do well where there are things like numbered lists or code examples, because those will do very weird things when the reader decides to read in Comic Sans or whatever.


    What software did you use to create your 'app' book?
    Unibody Macbook Pro 2.53 9400/9600GT 512mb, Mac OS X (10.6.2), 6 gb RAM; 500 gb 7200 rpm HD
  • Barbara Brundage Level 7 Level 7 (22,075 points)
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    Jun 22, 2010 7:13 AM (in response to tasslehawf)
    I didn't. O'Reilly/Missing Manuals did, and they have a special framework built by the Stanza developers, which you and I as individuals don't have access to, unfortunately.

    However, I did see a press release a couple of weeks ago from someone who is selling a kit to convert books to apps. I have no idea of how well it works.
    iMac C2D 2.16, iMac G5 2.1, flat panel imac 700, ibook G4 1G, Performa 6116CD, Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • tasslehawf Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jun 22, 2010 8:01 AM (in response to Barbara Brundage)
    Barbara Brundage wrote:
    I didn't. O'Reilly/Missing Manuals did, and they have a special framework built by the Stanza developers, which you and I as individuals don't have access to, unfortunately.


    There's a piece of software called PhoneGap that convertys html/css/javascript to app store apps. I'm thinking this might be one solution.
    Unibody Macbook Pro 2.53 9400/9600GT 512mb, Mac OS X (10.6.2), 6 gb RAM; 500 gb 7200 rpm HD
  • Larry Kollar Calculating status...
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    Jun 22, 2010 2:44 PM (in response to Chris Hayden)
    The real problems with .pdf formatted books have to do with flowable text and the authors ability to optimize the file size of their .pdfs.


    Tagged PDF should allow at least some reflow, at the cost of inflating the file size. As for optimizing PDF size, I run into this all the time in my day job — there's always a balancing act between how sharp your graphics (esp. photos) look vs. the size of the PDF. But for most people, the standard "Print" profile should be good enough. Then again, if you don't have photos or other bitmap graphics, you can make a pretty darn small PDF that will look great on just about any device.
    MacBook 2GHz Core2Duo, Mac OS X (10.4.11), 1GB RAM, 120GB drive
  • Ryan Vetter1 Level 2 Level 2 (460 points)
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    Jun 22, 2010 11:03 PM (in response to Larry Kollar)
    We almost seem to be going in circles. The reality is, right now, what we want is to be able to go from Pages to ePub directly. But we can't, yet. What we can do is use InDesign, and go straight from InDesign to ePub. So we do have a DTP solution for eBooks and tablets presently.

    And let me say a few more things about PDFs. I like PDFs. Their good for a lot of things. Reports, proposals, resumes... but books? PDFs are limited and very slow to pan through. Also, what they aren't good for is when you want to convert them to be read on eReaders. They just aren't. I've converted many of them with Calibre as well as using Sony's eReader software. The results are very mixed. And Sony's eReader software is considered to be the best in terms of how it reflows the text and graphics in the PDF.

    Again, what we have to realize is this is a new medium, and it demands new interfaces and new book and publication designs. To think that you can take an 8.5" x 11" document, that is in PDF format, push a button, and have it look great on a tablet computer is really simplifying things.

    Let me give an example of what is happening in the publishing industry. Digital magazines have new layouts for tablets. And a lot of them have portrait and landscape layouts. They change based on the orientation of the device. This is a lot of work for the production team, and expense. But in the end, there really isn't a choice. You will have to reformat and redo your books, if there is any sort of complexity, so they look good on tablets. Having to zoom in, or enlarge, that can get frustrating and impede the reading/educaitonal experience.

    Right now, the solution is either go from Pages to a PDF and Calibre, for example, or just use InDesign, and export straight to ePub from there.

    And about just reading PDFs in an app, or reading PDFs as books. Honestly, PDFs are a pretty bad reading experience in the context of books. The iBooks App is amazing. It's the best digital reading experience available. It's nothing like a vertical, linear scroll through a PDF. It's way faster, the text is completely clear and uniform, the graphics look great, and it automatically changes based on the orientation.

    We should be happy a lot of that hard work has been done for us. ePub really gets a bad rap and it shouldn't. Imagine if there was not standard, no ePub. Imagine having to convert from PDFs, and that was the only option. Or that we were all stuck reading PDFs as books. PDFs are simply not meant to be used in the way people are implying.

    I work with PDFs daily, in communications. Some complex, and I use Adobe PDF Pro, etc. I have every OCR program available too. Anytime there is any complexity in a PDF, converting it to something else is simply a nightmare.

    My vote is for ePub, which can be dumped straight into the Kindle Store, the iBooks Store, and pretty much every other eBook retailer's store. It allows for inline graphics, images and text. And InDesign goes right to it. This is not a case where ePub format is worse than PDF, and that it's just a trend of people and business that have accepted ePub format. PDF is the lessor of the two. If it really were better in terms of it being able to be easily converted into formats readable by dedicated, universal eReader software like the iBooks App, there is little doubt that companies like Apple, and many self-publishers, would just stay with PDF.

    But this is not the case. The fact is, graphics just simply don't come out of any PDF well at all, even using the best OCR software. I don't see how any eReader software is going to do any better at this in comparison to expensive OCR software that has been around for decades.

    If you just have a simple book in terms of it being pretty much all text, than PDF might be ok to convert from. But still, there are going to be formatting issues. My advice, therefore, is to simply stay away from PDFs for book publishing.

    Sony eReader software:

    http://ebookstore.sony.com/download/
    MacBook Pro 15" 2.4 GHz; Mac Mini 1.83 GHz; MacBook Air 2.13 128 SSD., Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • Barbara Brundage Level 7 Level 7 (22,075 points)
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    Jun 23, 2010 5:53 AM (in response to Ryan Vetter1)
    What we can do is use InDesign, and go straight from InDesign to ePub.


    Actually, that's not the end of it, by any means. There is a great deal that needs to be done to an epub after InDesign to fix output errors, and InDesign CS5 has some very severe bugs that have made it a poor choice till Adobe fixes some very big problems that are new with it.

    And even Winnie the Pooh looks different in ibooks 1.1 than it did in ibooks 1.0.

    Epub is no panacea.
    iMac C2D 2.16, iMac G5 2.1, flat panel imac 700, ibook G4 1G, Performa 6116CD, Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • tasslehawf Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jun 23, 2010 9:34 AM (in response to Chris Hayden)
    Ok, I just spent 15 hours yesterday converting our book to basic html for ePub.

    Ironically, a PDF file converted to html creates the cleanest html that I have found in any file conversion. I had to do a lot of cleanup but it was mostly re-formatting paragraph tags where I wanted them.

    I used acrobat pro to output an html file from our pod PDF. I'm going to use MobiPocket Creator to put it all together.

    I imported the html file into sigil last night, but it added these formatting tags into the html that weren't there in the Dreamweaver file.
    Unibody Macbook Pro 2.53 9400/9600GT 512mb, Mac OS X (10.6.2), 6 gb RAM; 500 gb 7200 rpm HD

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