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Old 03-15-2011, 03:27 PM   #1
starrigger
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Adding a map to a book -- need advice

I'm in the process of preparing a new omnibus of two of my novels, and I'm facing an issue I haven't dealt with before: incorporating a map into an ebook. I have a couple of questions:

1. The technical process of getting it into the ebook. Generally I work from Word, save to filtered html, and import that into Calibre for conversions. If I add the map jpg in Word, can I expect it to survive the export and import process? Are there any special tricks to getting it through that process into the actual ebook?

2. Assuming I can manage (1), what do people think about a map appearing in landscape vs portrait mode? My map is properly viewed in landscape mode, and my first thought was to add it to the book sideways, so that someone reading the book could simply turn the reader sideways to see the map to best advantage. That would work on my Sony Reader, for example.

But as I got to thinking about it, I wondered what would happen for people reading on, say, an iPad, or any device that automatically switches mode when the device itself is turned. If I do that, will a user be forever turning the device, only to have the image switch orientation, so that the only way to view it is by turning his or her head sideways?

I'm at something of a loss on this. But surely other people have figured it out by now. Yes?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-15-2011, 03:57 PM   #2
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And what does all this have to do with Calibre? You should post this in a more appropriate subforum.
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:14 PM   #3
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calibre will treat a map jpg just like any other image. I would suggest putting the map in an orientation that has its long side vertical, since the default views on most devices have the vertical side longer than the horizontal.
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:43 PM   #4
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Hi, Jeffrey. As a reader, I've had so many frustrating experiences with trying to read maps, etc., I'm thrilled to see an author put serious thought into this.

calibre will convert just fine, but I think it scales images to fit a screen, so I'd watch for that - maybe someone can give us the details of when and how that's controlled.

I would prefer the books I purchase not to have the images down-scaled; that way, I can load up the full size version to see in K4PC.

As for the rest, I can only tell you that the only way I've found to make a lot of images - such as maps and family trees - readable on small devices is to split them.

Orientation... what Kovid said, although, if you can split them, try to keep it in portrait, so they're not neck-breaking to read on K4PC, for example.

The number one thing to do, though, is make sure the images are available online.

I adore Bernard Cornwell, but his images are too small to read, and he doesn't have them on his site, nor are they elsewhere, and his wicked publisher actually blocks them from the "Look Inside" features of Google and Amazon, etc. argh.

Last edited by Piper_; 03-15-2011 at 05:50 PM. Reason: scales - not "crops" - horrors!
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:11 PM   #5
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Argh. I'm sorry, somehow I missed your first question. I redact my previous statement.
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piper_ View Post
Hi, Jeffrey. As a reader, I've had so many frustrating experiences with trying to read maps, etc., I'm thrilled to see an author put serious thought into this.

calibre will convert just fine, but I think it crops images to fit a screen, so I'd watch for that - maybe someone can give us the details of when and how that's controlled.

I would prefer the books I purchase not to have the images cropped; that way, I can load up the full size version to see in K4PC.

As for the rest, I can only tell you that the only way I've found to make a lot of images - such as maps and family trees - readable on small devices is to split them.

Orientation... what Kovid said, although, if you can split them, try to keep it in portrait, so they're not neck-breaking to read on K4PC, for example.

The number one thing to do, though, is make sure the images are available online.
Thanks. I'm glad you said that about putting the map online, because the thought hadn't occurred to me. I suppose it would be good to put a link to the map in the book, even.

As for splitting the map...hm. Yes, it would make it easier to read, but wouldn't it be hard to hold the two images together in your mind?

Kovid, can you address the comment about whether the image will be cropped by Calibre? And whether there are any settings I should be aware of? (I've never put any sort of image into my ebooks, except for the cover, which I let Calibre do for me from a separate file.)
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:36 PM   #7
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Oh--can anyone comment on the question of what the viewing experience would be like for someone reading on a tablet (or any device that automatically changes orientation when you turn it) if the map is embedded in the book in a sideways orientation?

I suspect the answer is, not good. Which might be an argument for splitting the map, after all.
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piper_ View Post

I would prefer the books I purchase not to have the images cropped; that way, I can load up the full size version to see in K4PC.

As for the rest, I can only tell you that the only way I've found to make a lot of images - such as maps and family trees - readable on small devices is to split them.

Orientation... what Kovid said, although, if you can split them, try to keep it in portrait, so they're not neck-breaking to read on K4PC, for example. .
Paint Shop pro 8 has a tool that slices images up (typically used for web pages).
I thought Calibre and/or the reader 'scaled' images, not cropped them?
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:52 PM   #9
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Paint Shop pro 8 has a tool that slices images up (typically used for web pages).
I thought Calibre and/or the reader 'scaled' images, not cropped them?
Yeesh, of course, I meant scales - not crops. Thanks. Fixed it.
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Old 03-15-2011, 06:58 PM   #10
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calibre never crops images, always scales. You can control the max allowed size by choosing the output profile in the conversion settings. Choose the tablet output profile and it wont even scale.
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:37 AM   #11
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An ebook is just bits, so it *shouldn't* matter if you put more than one image in. My suggestion would be to put the whole image in, then ALSO put in split, magnified images. And make sure what you post on your website is the highest definition you can obtain - anyone can scale it down, but if you only have small images, then you can't enlarge it to read a small name, for example. If you put the split images next to each other, then as you page from one to the next you should see the adjoining map. Kinda like turning the page on a Thomas guide map of your local city.

I was just reading David Weber's latest Safehold novel (although for some reason I keep ending up with his Tor books in paper instead of ebook....) and I was constantly referring to the maps, trying to figure out where everything was. If I had it in bits, I'd want to bookmark it, and jump back and forth to see the details.
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:58 AM   #12
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My concern about splitting the map wasn't technical, it was about the user experience of trying to mentally combine the two. Given other concerns, I decided to go ahead and try a test conversion with split maps. I did it with tablet setting (no scaling). The result:
  • In Calibre viewer, it looks very nice, with each map section filling one page and a title line on the same page, no spurious blank pages.
  • On my Sony 700, each jpg nicely fills the screen. But the title lines show on separate pages from the map images.
  • In ADE for PC, the titles are separated and I see only a portion of each image. There seems no way to scroll down to see the rest of the image. Not good.
  • In Nook for PC, same as ADE. I don't have a Nook, so I don't know if that's just because the desktop software sucks.
  • In Sony PC software, the title line separates, but I can scroll the image down to see the whole thing.

Haven't tried doing a Mobi/Kindle yet. And have no idea what it'll look like on an iPad.

Obviously, I would like to find a compromise setting that works on as many devices as possible. Any suggestions on changes that might help?

Thanks.
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Old 03-16-2011, 01:24 AM   #13
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Look at the advanced epub formatting demo here: http://calibre-ebook.com/user_manual...ormatting-demo

It shows you how to create full screen images, i.e. images that always occupy a "screenfull". It will require some hand editing of the html you get from Word however, and it will not work in MOBI (MOBI has no way to create full screen images).
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:43 AM   #14
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Look at the advanced epub formatting demo here: http://calibre-ebook.com/user_manual...ormatting-demo

It shows you how to create full screen images, i.e. images that always occupy a "screenfull". It will require some hand editing of the html you get from Word however, and it will not work in MOBI (MOBI has no way to create full screen images).
Ah...hrrm. Okay, I looked at the html source, and I sort of follow it, sort of don't. But I don't really think I want to get myself into a position where, every time I make some small correction to the source doc, I then have to fiddle and tweak the html before I load it into Calibre. That way lies madness.

I was thinking more along the lines of, are there settings I can choose in Calibre's conversion parameters that will make this come out better for general use? And how can I tell what differences to expect if, say, I choose Nook vs Nook Color vs Sony Reader vs Ipad output profile?

Some of this, I'm just now realizing, may be more out of my control that I would like. I'm going to distribute through Kindle, Pubit, and Smashwords, which means the only Epub output I can control is Pubit's. (God only knows what the SW meatgrinder will do to this. But that'll be the source of epubs for Apple, Kobo, and Sony.)

That said, my Kindle and Nook versions will be produced by Calibre, and I do want those to look as good as possible. Is there a difference in output profiles between Nook and Nook Color?
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:51 AM   #15
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Obviously, I would like to find a compromise setting that works on as many devices as possible. Any suggestions on changes that might help?
You can fix the Image Title problem by making the title part of your image. Another option is to provide both a landscape (my personal preference) and a split portrait view of your map.

Good Luck.
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