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Old 07-28-2011, 05:14 PM   #1
rhek
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Need advice on converting books that are photograph intensive

We are considering converting our currently published books into eBooks and now have some questions before getting started.

All our books are photo intensive.

1. We have a 3 book series that have a combined page count of just over 1000 pages with about 980 photographs. Layout is landscape. Digital format in QuarkXpress 8.1.

2. We have an autobiography that is 291 pages with 480 photographs. Layout is currently portrait, but we are considering landscape for the next printing. Digital format in QuarkXpress 8.1.

3. We have an instructional book with over 600 pages and 1200 instructional drawings. The layout for this book is in portrait. This book is not in digital format so we are currently scanning, converting the scans using OCR, and cleaning up the drawing.

We have some other books, but I think you get the idea, lots of photographs and drawings.

I am a web designer by day (and many nights) so I know HTML, an amateur book designer by night using QuarkXPress.

I am looking for some advice to get me headed down the right path before starting these projects.

I would like to publish these books on Kindle, Nook, and IPad. We thought PDF would be the correct format for the IPad so we could preserve the landscape layout of a couple of our books. But then, some people might want to read the books in portrait mode so we are not sure. I have read a little on ePub fixed layouts and that sounds interesting, but does it work on the Kindle and Nook and other eReaders that do not rotate to landscape? We have an IPad, but still need to pick up a Kindle and Nook so your comments would be appreciated.

We are getting ready to look at the new version of QuarkXPress which has digital publishing. Can anyone provide some reviews on the latest QuarkXPress? Recommend some other tools?

At this point I think it would really be helpful to get some names of other photo intensive books so I can get copies to view. These projects are just starting up so the more layout examples the better. That way I can get some ideas what can and cannot be done and in which format I can and cannot do things.

One final question regards copy-protection, not that we want to include copy-protection, but how easy is it to make copies of books once they are on the Kindle, Nook, IPad, or other devices?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Rhek
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Old 07-29-2011, 03:40 AM   #2
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Photo, or image, heavy books are a pain. Fixed layouts ePUB is limited to iPad (iBooks?), so that won't help on the Nook and Kindle. Furthermore, the Kindle does not accept ePUB at all.
Since ePUB is based on XHTML, it is a flowing format by nature. This will of course give issues when there are pictures in the book. Large free spaces will occur. Mobi also uses HTML, but I am no expert regarding mobi.

Personally if I would have to make an image heavy book, I would go for PDF. I know the limits, but I feel that unfortunately it is still the best format for it. Most readers support PDF in one way or another. The small screen could render the PDF hard to read. You might want to test with different page sizes to come up with a compromise that is acceptable on multiple readers.
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Old 07-29-2011, 05:06 AM   #3
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Processing tips for scanned photos are in my sig. They make a huge difference for PDF.

For instance you could apply a dot matrix after removing the printed dots. I know how that sounds but it does look better afterwards. After it's processed it looks like someone payed attention to it, looks more professional (rather than just scanned and botched together). Alternatively you could blur it and apply a pixelize filter if the image was pixelized in its printed form. Makes a HUGE difference. Sometimes they look better than the printed version, especially if you add some contrast and saturation.

Also, you may want some drawings in SVG format (especially black & white). They're much cleaner and they scale really well no matter the resolution or zoom level. Great for diagrams, charts and some colour drawings too. Inkscape can autotrace, but Vector Magic is better (not perfect but better), and you can always clean up in Inkscape.

Regarding DRM, just go with whatever's available. If someone is really determined to copy the material and post it online they will. The iPad has a screenshot feature, and I'm almost positive the Kindle does too. So anyone who's determined could, theoretically, OCR the screenshots and put together the images in their original places.
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Old 07-29-2011, 05:14 AM   #4
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Toxaris,
I did not know the the ePub fixed layout was only for IPad. Looks like I will look into PDF a bit more.

Thanks for the reply!


DSpider,
Thanks for the image tips and those links in your sig.

Thanks for the reply!


I really appreciate your help!
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Old 07-29-2011, 10:41 AM   #5
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The first thing you're going to have to accept is that every publication is going to need some manual tidy-up on the exported ePub. Quark 9 has only just been released, so I have no idea what the ePub output looks like, but I strongly suspect they will need fixing just as is required in InDesign - there are certain conventions that change between fixed and reflowable formats and I've yet to see any automatic conversion system that actually gets the css more than halfway right. InDesign has been doing ePub export since CS3 and still doesn't really have it right, so I don't know what Quark's first attempt will look like.

Avoid fixed-layout like the plague. It involves a lot of work that only benefits one platform, and there's no guarantee it won't break in unpredictable ways when Apple finally brings out the fabled hi-def iPad. CSS 2 is a bit limited, but it offers a reasonable set of tools to handle positioning. This will be more difficult on the Kindle, though.

As far as landscape vs portrait goes, it really depends on the design and how much it's going to be compromised by forcing it to flip. If the photos in your series are predominantly landscape, then the quality is going to suffer even more by forcing them to be displayed across the shortest dimension. None of the current readers compares to print when it comes to resolution, so you want to make the maximum use of the pixels on the screen. The Kindle and ADE-based ePub readers can switch to landscape easily.

I suppose one thing you'll also want to consider is whether you really want to stick with Quark and whether it's worth investing further in their platform, since there are ways available to transition to InDesign. But that's quite a big question that would need to involve the whole company.
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Old 07-29-2011, 11:21 AM   #6
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Why? ePub is ePub. InDesign isn't the defacto ePub editor. If anything, it's actually more of a new feature.
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Old 07-29-2011, 03:37 PM   #7
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Why what? InDesign (and now Quark) are the only programs that will allow you to produce a professional-quality print layout and then also turn that into an ebook. This is a different issue to producing an ePub from scratch.
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Old 07-29-2011, 04:50 PM   #8
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There's also Scribus. Personally I think once you export to PDF from Word 2010, that's pretty much all you need for printing. The PDF file. But I could be wrong... I have yet to even try to contemplate drawing a template for a black & white pamphlet that could help find my neighbour's lost dog.....

Last edited by DSpider; 08-01-2011 at 05:40 AM.
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Old 07-30-2011, 08:18 PM   #9
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There's also Scribus. Personally I think once you export to PDF from Word 2010, that's pretty much all you need for printing.
Scribus is a nice effort, but it's nowhere near the league in which the major DTP programs operate - they're expensive, but you get what you pay for. As far as print goes, Word is for writing letters and creating a poster about your lost cat , but it's a decent platform for preparing text for ebooks, since you don't need all the precise print layout options offered by the heavy-hitters.
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Old 07-31-2011, 07:50 AM   #10
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If you want precise layout you can use Inkscape. I tried vectorizing a few covers and they turned out pretty well.
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Old 07-31-2011, 05:30 PM   #11
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...Avoid fixed-layout like the plague. It involves a lot of work that only benefits one platform, and there's no guarantee it won't break in unpredictable ways when Apple finally brings out the fabled hi-def iPad...
I don't understand how this comment is helpful. iBooks, with all it's flaws is a marketplace for commerce. If you want in, you stand on one foot, pat your head and rub your belly. If not, you don't. The fact that they're a pain, a bastardization of the Epub standard and a possible evil empire not withstanding, they offer a path to their commerce solution.

A fixed layout book isn't wizardry, it's just formatting. Apple has pushed their Franken-standard forward so they can allow us (and themselves at 30%), to take advantage of a sales platform.

And when Nook-Color releases their dev tools for Nook-Kids and offer their own flavor of bastardization, those who want into that marketplace will stand on the other foot and rub their head and pat their belly. Some won't.

Think Epub can get busted? Try being an app developer for IOS and Android.
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Old 08-03-2011, 05:20 PM   #12
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I too am having problems with a book that has many images correctly formatting in epub.
Have thought about publishing it as an app, but the programming is beyond me, unless someone knows an easy way?
Looks like I will have to rely on pdf, but of course will not get the coverage of an iBook.
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