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Old 01-11-2013, 03:10 PM   #1
Alan Brooks
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combo strategy with Sigil and iBook Author

I have a few weeks before my cover art is finished and sent back to me, and am a bit less than excited with the formatting control I get with plain ol' ePub (using Sigil). I'm going to publish first to the iTunes Store, and have a copy of iBook Author, so I thought I'd put out a more elaborately formatted copy of my book just for the iPad.

Has anyone done this? It's not a big deal, but I have a couple weeks to burn, so I thought I'd have a video on the biography page, maybe another one talking a little bit about the book, design some enpapers to give the book a Japanese feel (the book is in English, with lot of Japanese elements). I'm already a registered publisher for the iTunes Store, Amazon, most of my eventual targets.

This is a just-for-the-fun-of-it project to see if I can produce a kind of premium version just for the iPad. Anyone have a workflow from Sigil / ePub into iBook Author? Any thoughts on the general idea?
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Old 01-13-2013, 06:37 PM   #2
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So what is it about your eBook that will need more advanced formatting then ePub can give you?
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:11 PM   #3
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i think you'll be hard-pressed to find an easy out-of-sigil-into-iBA workflow. iBA is a proprietary format which Apple has developed that's based on epub2, but doesn't allow (as far as i know) a simple import from epub.

you can, however, drag and drop html files into the open iBA document, and then restyle it from there. it seems to respect links, so footnotes etc. may still work, but i think you'd need to rebuild the navigation as well.

in the past i've found that the templates Apple provides can be profoundly difficult to alter, and the logic behind how to create a simple layout can be a bit mind-bending, so would recommend playing around with the program and the various templates with a bit of sample text/images to make sure that you don't run into a brick wall 2/3 of the way through and have to restart.

Apple's iBA forums seem pretty well trafficked, so that'll be a good resource.
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:18 PM   #4
Alan Brooks
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@JSWolf: In truth I have no burning need for the more precise control offered by iBook Author. My book is just a straight-on fantasy fiction piece. Once I finished writing and started looking into ePublishing, I mistakenly thought I had to use iBook Author to get something onto the Apple Store. So I downloaded the software and started using it, then read a bit more and realized my mistake.

However now that I have the software and have some time put into it I see how much nicer the book could be, at least on the Apple Store, without a lot of CSS fiddling. So, since posting my previous question, I've finished importing to and formatting in both Sigil and iBook Author. I now have the minor hassle of keeping the two versions in synch. I certainly could just use Sigil to produce an ePub for both, but seeing as I have another week or so before my cover art arrives, I'm spending my time (in a blatant procrastination ploy on my next writing project) creating fancier chapter openings in the iBook Author version; adding graphics, adding a few quotes that inspired the chapter, tweaking how the graphics flow when the iPad is shifted between landscape and portrait mode... It's fun. Not sure I'd do this every time I put out a book, but seeing as I timed things badly on my cover art, what else am I going to do? Write something new???
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:46 PM   #5
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You can do some of your fancy formatting in Sigil. You can't do the "do this if portrait or do that if landscape" as that's not ePub. That's iBooks. But you can make the standard ePub look nicer as well by adding graphs, fancier headings, drop caps, etc.

But one thing to note, don't just take how it looks in Sigil as how it will look in ADE. Use ADE to see how it will look in ADE.
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
You can do some of your fancy formatting in Sigil. You can't do the "do this if portrait or do that if landscape" as that's not ePub. That's iBooks.
That's incorrect. What you're talking about involves simple media queries, which despite being CSS3 features, are fully spec-compliant with the CSS2 specification in that compliant renderers are required to "graceful degrade" by ignoring the bits that they don't understand.

Further, the EPUB standard does not say that books cannot use later versions of the CSS spec than CSS2. In fact, it explicitly says that the reader must tolerate later versions of the spec.

"A Reading System may support CSS properties beyond the OPS CSS 2.0 required subset, however, any unsupported properties must be gracefully degraded per the CSS 2.0 specification." (Open Publication Structure (OPS) 2.0.1 v1.0, section 1.3.5.)

Therefore, an EPUB that takes advantage of CSS3 features—media queries, box shadows, multicolumn layouts, etc.—is a legal EPUB, and fully complies with the EPUB 2.0.1 specification, because the CSS 2.0 spec's rules for "gracefully degrading" say that a client must ignore any rules that it doesn't understand. Period. You can even legally include vendor-specific rules, and as long as they are structured in a fashion that complies with the graceful degradation rules of the CSS spec, a reader is required to ignore them. For example, the following should not break any compliant reader:

Code:
-mumblereader-eat-cookies-like-a-monster: answer("Sure, why not?");
It is garbage, of course, and no reader will actually do anything with it, but it is legal. And the EPUB specification says that readers are allowed to interpret it if they know how, so if I write a reader called "mumblereader", it could display an animation and speech synthesis for a certain blue Muppet® when it sees that property....

However, with that said, you cannot be guaranteed that all readers (or any readers, for that matter) will support CSS3 features. For this reason, spec-compliant content must also be designed in such a way that it degrades gracefully on readers that support only the CSS functionality defined by the EPUB subset of CSS2.

<rant>Also, because Adobe apparently doesn't know what "gracefully degrades" means and/or didn't bother to read the part of the CSS specification where it explains the steps by which a conforming interpreter should skip unknown CSS declarations, you will probably have to segregate any @ rules other than @font-face into a separate file, which ADE will fail to parse and will thus ignore in its entirety.</rant>

But I digress.

Last edited by dgatwood; 01-18-2013 at 07:07 PM.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:29 PM   #7
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It won't validate and this, it won't be sold.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
It won't validate and this, it won't be sold.
Yes it will.

Code:
html {
        -webkit-line-box-contain: block inline replaced !important;
        -mumblereader-eat-cookies-like-a-monster: answer("Sure, why not?");
}
Code:
$ epubcheck tiw.epub
Epubcheck Version 3.0-RC-1

Validating against EPUB version 2.0
No errors or warnings detected.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgatwood View Post
Yes it will.

Code:
html {
        -webkit-line-box-contain: block inline replaced !important;
        -mumblereader-eat-cookies-like-a-monster: answer("Sure, why not?");
}
Code:
$ epubcheck tiw.epub
Epubcheck Version 3.0-RC-1

Validating against EPUB version 2.0
No errors or warnings detected.
Will it validate in ePubcheck 1.1, 1.2 and the release of 3.0? Also, put in the code needed for iBooks to detect the screen size and pick and image based on if an iPad or an iPhone and then validate.
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Old 01-18-2013, 09:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
Will it validate in ePubcheck 1.1, 1.2 and the release of 3.0? Also, put in the code needed for iBooks to detect the screen size and pick and image based on if an iPad or an iPhone and then validate.
That was just a tiny bit of the CSS to prove that point. However, the book also contains this CSS file:


Code:
@media not screen
{
    html body {
	margin-left: 2em;
	margin-right: 2em;
    }
}

@media screen and (min-device-width:961px)
{
    html body {
	margin-left: 2em;
	margin-right: 2em;
    }
}


/* iOS and other phones in portrait mode:
 */
@media screen and (max-device-width:960px) and (orientation:portrait)
{
    /* html body { */
	/* Sadly, this doesn't work.  I'd really like to knock about an em off the
           default iBook margins on iPhone/iPod Touch. */
	/* -ibooks-gutter-margin-left: 0px !important; */
	/* -ibooks-gutter-margin-right: 0px !important; */
    /* } */

    /* Reduce size of chapter numbers and
       indentation so that they don't
       run off the screen. */
    div.chapternumber {
	font-size: 20pt !important;
	padding-left: 10pt !important;
	padding-right: 10pt !important;
    }

    /* Reduce chapter heading indentation to
       match the chapter number. */
    div.chapterheading
    {
	margin-left: 10pt !important;
    }

    /* Reduce bottom margin of chapter numbers
       so that it isn't so oversized. */
    div.chapternumber + p {
	margin-top: 3em !important;
    }

    blockquote {
	margin-left: 2em !important;
	margin-right: 2em !important;
    }

    /* Reduce left and right margins so that the
       blockquote bits have more than two words
       per line. */
    /* html {
	margin-left: 0 !important;
	margin-right: 0 !important;
    } */
    /* html body {
	margin-left: 6px !important;
	margin-right: 6px !important;
    } */

}

@page {
	margin-left: 0 !important;
	margin-right: 0 !important;
}

/* iOS and other phones in landscape mode
 */
@media screen and (max-device-height:960px) and (orientation:landscape)
{
    /* Reduce bottom margin of chapter numbers
       so that they don't waste an entire page. */
    div.chapternumber + p {
	margin-top: 3em !important;
    }
    html body {
	margin-left: 2em;
	margin-right: 2em;
    }
}

.whiteout
{
	/* ADE chokes on this IE-ism, too.  It probably isn't
	   necessary in the real world of EPUBs, but it really
	   shouldn't *break* the entire stylesheet.... */
	filter:alpha(opacity=0);
}
Again, this is a separate stylesheet to avoid the aforementioned ADE bug, but it validates just fine, and iBooks respects its contents, as do a number of other readers on iOS (Kobo, for example).
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