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Old 08-20-2013, 12:28 PM   #1
krausj
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What dimension should I use if I am submitting my ePub to BookBaby?

First I should say that I am writing an illustrated book, so illustrations are on every page.

BookBaby is a company that takes your epub and distributes it to multiple platforms such as the Kindle, Nook, Reader, etc. What I'm not sure about is their conversion process. The latest Kindle Fire is 1920x1200 pixels, the Nook is 600X800, and so on.They're all different. How do I give them one epub and have it look the way it should on each of these devices? I've asked BookBaby but I got a very vague answer.
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Old 08-20-2013, 02:03 PM   #2
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A "very vague answer" from the company you are paying to perform this conversion???!!!??

IMHO they are the ones that should be telling you what is required. If they aren't doing that then you should charge them a "question avoidance fee" up to their entire commission. Of course that may require finding a different company that has some customer service!
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Old 08-20-2013, 03:08 PM   #3
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The answer to your question is not an easy one. It can be difficult to make everything look great on every device. That may account for the vague answer.

A book containing large images may be great on newer and larger device, but be a really slow slug on an older, but still ubiquitous reader. Color is only 16 shades of gray on an e-ink reader, and colors visible on a color reader may be invisible in grayscale.
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Old 08-20-2013, 08:23 PM   #4
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A "very vague answer" from the company you are paying to perform this conversion???!!!??

IMHO they are the ones that should be telling you what is required. If they aren't doing that then you should charge them a "question avoidance fee" up to their entire commission. Of course that may require finding a different company that has some customer service!
Hey, Turt:

Bookbaby is just an aggregator that outsources its conversions. They'd have no idea what to tell this guy.

The problem the OP has is that BookBaby, like all aggregators, has a "one ring to rule them all" mindset--they want one ePUB that they FTP to the various retailers, to make the books. Now, that sounds really cool--except you can't make a fixed-format Kindle book with an ePUB, not this way. In fact, not any way.

For this book to come out correctly, at a minimum, you need two books--a mobi and an ePUB, and possibly 3, one mobi and two ePUBs, (of these, one for iBooks and Kobo and one for Nook). Heavily illustrated books can't be made the way that this is being done, not and look right.

(Not to mention: all the retailers have different filesize limits. You have a 20mb limit at NookPRess, but 50mb at Amazon. You have almost no limits, really, at iBooks, but I know Kobo has limits). Kobo's in-house conversion process, from the uploaded BookBaby ePUB, uses the Calibre API; Amazon uses the "new" KG...man.

Seriously, if you're going to use a "one ePUB to rule them all" approach...what type of illustrations or images do you have? Are they illustrative in that they are detailed diagrams for "how-to," or are they landscape images, or kids' images, or...? Do the illustrations have text that has to be readable, or...? If you'll give us some detail, it will help us help you. (Or consider asking BB if they'll take a mobi if you give it to them. I know that Inscribe will do that when asked.)

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Old 08-21-2013, 10:33 AM   #5
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Hi Hitch, thanks so much for the input. The book is a 13 chapter adult humor book, (kid's book for adults sort of thing). Let's just say that it resembles a children's book in terms of illustrations, but it has a lot more text.= than most children's books. The images vary in size. One page might have the image take up the whole screen, another might have it smaller. There is a lot of text.

Right now I am laying out the book in InDesign and working on a version just for iBooks (768 x 1024), which I plan on submitting myself. Then I was going to make another version of the ebook to give for BookBaby, and was wondering what pixel ratio I should use for that.

So you think I should make two versions for Nook and Kobo, and one mobi for Kindle? I suppose that's possible, but I was going to use BookBaby because, frankly, I was overwhelmed at the thought of exactly that. I have no clue how to make a mobi. I do know how to make an epub though, so I suppose I could make two different epubs (plus the one I'm doing now for iBooks).
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Old 08-21-2013, 03:12 PM   #6
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Hi Hitch, thanks so much for the input. The book is a 13 chapter adult humor book, (kid's book for adults sort of thing). Let's just say that it resembles a children's book in terms of illustrations, but it has a lot more text.= than most children's books. The images vary in size. One page might have the image take up the whole screen, another might have it smaller. There is a lot of text.

Right now I am laying out the book in InDesign and working on a version just for iBooks (768 x 1024), which I plan on submitting myself. Then I was going to make another version of the ebook to give for BookBaby, and was wondering what pixel ratio I should use for that.

So you think I should make two versions for Nook and Kobo, and one mobi for Kindle? I suppose that's possible, but I was going to use BookBaby because, frankly, I was overwhelmed at the thought of exactly that. I have no clue how to make a mobi. I do know how to make an epub though, so I suppose I could make two different epubs (plus the one I'm doing now for iBooks).
Hi:

No, no: I meant, a version for Nook, and a version that was for iBooks/Kobo. I was thinking fixed-format, as iBooks/Kobo basically use the same file for fixed-format (very few changes), but it sounds to me like you're not actually making a fixed-format book, but a book that looks like this:

text text text text
text text text text
illustration
text text text text
illustration
and so on.

Is that right? OR, do you have illustrations that have text atop them, please?

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Old 08-21-2013, 04:34 PM   #7
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Ahhh ok I think I understand. Most pages have the text separated from the images, but a few have text overlayed onto the image. Here's a screenshot from the InDesign file to give you an idea:




Last edited by krausj; 08-21-2013 at 04:38 PM.
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Old 08-21-2013, 04:53 PM   #8
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I'll reply in more detail later--it's super-busy at the shop right now, but...

OH, DEAR.

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Old 08-21-2013, 07:44 PM   #9
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No worries, I really appreciate the help!
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:50 PM   #10
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No worries, I really appreciate the help!
Okey-dokey.

Well, the challenge you have is that what you need are fixed-format books. Almost none of the e-reading devices that are out there can, without fixed-format coding, display text atop of background images (reliably). If you try to use an image of text--in other words, like that one page, "Theo was going in for the kill shot..." it will render poorly on many devices, and of course, the text can't reflow. This is also required if you have any spreads (two pages that need to be viewed together).

This, then, puts you in the unenviable position of needing to give Bookbaby completed books. You'll need to make a fixed-format ePUB for iBooks, one for Kobo, and then you'll need to make a fixed-format MOBI for Amazon. The good news is that Kobo and iBooks have almost identical formatting, so that will save you some time. But Amazon's coding is completely different. I don't think that BookBaby has a publisher's agreement with B&N that will allow them to upload a fixed-format kids' book to NookKids--but you said that his was for adults? So, there isn't a market or spot at Nook for this type of book, anyway, assuming it's made in fixed-format style.

And you won't be able to just change pages into jpegs and put them in a file and submit it; iBooks will reject it, which means that BookBaby will reject it. What you have there is, unfortunately, a moderately complex formatting job.

Your alternative is to remove any text from atop any images, and create it in a more "reflowable" format, so that the text for "Theo was going in for the kill shot..." comes before or after the related image, and make all your images work that way. If you do that, you can get away with a reflowable ePUB. With regard to the text and images floating...you can likely find coding here on MR to allow you to put the text and images as you have them on the page with the Wolverine. Now...if you do it with CSS, it will work on ePUB and some of the K8-enabled devices, at Amazon, but it won't work for the k7 devices. The text and images will stack, vertically. The alternative is to use tables..put the image in one cell and the text in the other cell, with no borders (the invisible border thing does not work reliably in K4iPad, BTW).

Sorry, I wish I had a better, shorter answer for you, but...your formatting isn't simple, believe it or not. Not the way you have it now, and not with the retailer's requirements being what they are. You can either simplify it (de-layer text and images, and work around/with the floating images and paragraphs), or you're going to have to make fixed-format books, one for each retailer.

I know that didn't really help, but...did it explain anything?

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Old 08-22-2013, 11:33 AM   #11
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It actually helped quite a bit, thank you so much. Now at least I know what I have to do. And I don't want to sacrifice the layout I have, so I'll have to make my own fixed format books. You're right, the iPad and Kobo versions will be easier. In fact I can use epubcrawler with my indesign document to get me most of the way there, at least I think so.

For the Kindle Mobi, I'll have to start from scratch. I haven't tried to make a mobi at all. Perhaps it would be best to pay a professional to do the mobi, I'll have to think about it.

Thanks again Hitch!
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Old 08-22-2013, 03:37 PM   #12
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It actually helped quite a bit, thank you so much. Now at least I know what I have to do. And I don't want to sacrifice the layout I have, so I'll have to make my own fixed format books. You're right, the iPad and Kobo versions will be easier. In fact I can use epubcrawler with my indesign document to get me most of the way there, at least I think so.

For the Kindle Mobi, I'll have to start from scratch. I haven't tried to make a mobi at all. Perhaps it would be best to pay a professional to do the mobi, I'll have to think about it.

Thanks again Hitch!
You are most welcome.

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Old 08-23-2013, 03:53 AM   #13
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Hey, Turt:

Bookbaby is just an aggregator that outsources its conversions. They'd have no idea what to tell this guy.

The problem the OP has is that BookBaby, like all aggregators, has a "one ring to rule them all" mindset--they want one ePUB that they FTP to the various retailers, to make the books. Now, that sounds really cool--except you can't make a fixed-format Kindle book with an ePUB, not this way. In fact, not any way.

{clip}

Hitch
...you illustrated my point perfectly! You were able to take the time and explain things - even though you are very busy. Why couldn't BB take a few minutes to explain this to their paying customer? I understand that the person answering the phone might not have your level of technical knowledge to explain details...but they could at least point the customer in the right direction or say..."let me connect you to someone who can answer your question".

I value good customer service very highly when I am dealing with a company. I even appreciate it when they tell me I'm an idiot and don't know what I'm talking about!!

I readily admit I don't know enough about the business side of ebooks. If BB charges money to take a book and convert (using a subcontractor) and distribute it to these different book retailers, wouldn't it be BB's responsibility (or their subcontractors) to make sure the conversion was done correctly?? Why on earth would the OP create all these different books himself and then pay for BB to send them to the retailer? Just send them to the retailer directly. I understand that Apple requires people to use a middleman when submitting books (??) but I was under the impression that the others have direct submission procedures.

Maybe I'm asking too many questions and I just need to go back to Sigil and get to work...
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Old 08-23-2013, 05:14 AM   #14
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...you illustrated my point perfectly! {snip}

I readily admit I don't know enough about the business side of ebooks. If BB charges money to take a book and convert (using a subcontractor) and distribute it to these different book retailers, wouldn't it be BB's responsibility (or their subcontractors) to make sure the conversion was done correctly?? Why on earth would the OP create all these different books himself and then pay for BB to send them to the retailer? Just send them to the retailer directly. I understand that Apple requires people to use a middleman when submitting books (??) but I was under the impression that the others have direct submission procedures.

Maybe I'm asking too many questions and I just need to go back to Sigil and get to work...
Turtle:

Actually, you can only direct-publish to Amazon, B&N, Kobo and, if you have a Mac, Apple. All the rest--Sony, Diesel, BooksonBoard, whomever is still standing--they all require aggregators. That's the issue. For clients with a big reader-base in Europe, they need Sony. For clients who are based outside of the US--they need aggregators because they can't publish anywhere except Amazon and maybe Kobo. B&N requires a US Tax ID # and I think iBooks does,too. So, it's about distribution, more than anything else.

However, it's true that a little customer service would have gone a long way. On the other hand, to be fair to the aggregators, almost all of them, except BookBaby, have gone to a "no authors with fewer than 5 books" requirement, because the customer service (usually email) overhead with self-pubbing authors is so high that a single-book author costs them money, doesn't earn them money. Almost all of them used to take one-book clients; now only Smashwords and BookBaby will.

Think of it this way--with such a small intake fee, or even smaller percentage of sales, one email, or one phone call, and you're already in the hole. It's easy to think that businesses "should" provide better customer service, but ebooks is a teeny-weeny margin business. Consider this: if Bookbaby's net profit on a book is maybe $30, for a year--how many emails and phone calls can they field before that book puts them in the red? Or if it's one of the Aggregators that takes 15%--if the book sells $100/year--how many phone calls or emails consumes that $15 pretty damn quickly and puts it in the red?

And very, very few self-pubs have taken the time to educate themselves on what's involved with self-publishing. They haven't bought ISBN's, they didn't register their copyright, they don't know where to go to market the book; they don't know where to find their sales reports, or (I see this often with clients who cc: me on emails to their aggregators, I know not why), they write and say that the aggregator isn't giving them all their money, or that they want daily reports--it's pretty demanding, for very, very, very little money.

So...I sympathize; yes, BB should have explained the situation better; but at this moment in time, this particular OP is not even their client yet. He's a prospective client. Businesses like this, with such infinitesimal margins, have to dance a merry dance on the knife's edge of profitability when determining how much pre-sales "support" to give to someone who isn't even a paying client yet.

Just my $02, from someone who makes the same decisions every day.

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Old 08-23-2013, 07:21 AM   #15
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Your point is underlined lately by a poster who said they can't be bothered with HTML or CSS, that they would just be bored with it and more or less not true to themselves if they wasted their time that way. That sort of author costs $1000 worth of support for what is likely a one book for the rest of their lives author.
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