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Old 09-25-2008, 10:54 AM   #1
brewt
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What am I just not getting about epub?

Sure, it's from our friends at Adobe, BUT:

Exporting an epub from InDesign strips out all the coolness you can invoke in InDesign (which would be the biggest draw).

Try as I might, I can't get an InDesign-produced epub to open in Mobipocket.

There's no epub reader for portable devices (like pocket pc, or even dedicated readers).

Should I be using Flash to build it instead?

-bjc
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Old 09-25-2008, 11:13 AM   #2
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There's no epub reader for portable devices (like pocket pc, or even dedicated readers).
The recent firmware update (V1.1) added ePub support to the current Sony Reader, so there's one, at least...
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Old 09-25-2008, 11:20 AM   #3
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There's no epub reader for portable devices (like pocket pc, or even dedicated readers).
Does FBReader not support ePub? The website says OEB format... is that ePub?

If not I'm surprised it is not on their roadmap.

BOb
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Old 09-25-2008, 11:28 AM   #4
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ePub is a "successor" to OEB. The principles on which they work is very similar.
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Old 09-25-2008, 11:30 AM   #5
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also on a pocket pc you can install adobe digital edition which will allow you to read epub on the pc.

and while it has not been implemented yet, bookeen has said they intend to support epub natively as well in the near future.

i'm curious about what you mean when you say that a conversion to epub "strips out" all the indesign goodness... are you referring to tracking / kerning etc. ? epub has other strengths specifically in the context of reflowable, searchable documents that make it much more powerful than any other format currently existing, including things like complete meta-data, true TOC support, true pagination, real footnote support, CSS support allowing you to make more complex and refined layout, support for images including vector images (svg), and in fact the ability to handle even multimedia embedded in books once the devices will be able to exploit this ; like video or sound. not all of these features are yet available on the devices available for purchase today but we all know how fast technology moves, i wouldn't want to put brakes on the format just to keep pace with the devices.
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Old 09-25-2008, 11:35 AM   #6
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Does FBReader not support ePub?
FBReader's current ePub capability is limited by its lack of CCS support and it also can't read the toc.ncx.
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Old 09-25-2008, 02:33 PM   #7
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I'm attaching a pic - left side shows what I'm seeing in InDesign, right side shows what I'm seeing in Digital Editions. (the photo [Isaac himself] landed at the bottom of the epub. No font tricks like the initial cap nor italics, no flow tricks, etc.) Kerning isn't bad in the epub, hyphenation doesn't seem to kick in so good. And this is just a "simple" example, nothing groovy like multi-level tocs, haven't even tried footnotes....

...Obviously, I'm doing something wrong.......

Yes, I can see the epub in fbreader and digital editions, but not at all in Mobi - it says "processing", then goes back to the library, and the epub doesn't show up in the library either. Even if I strip out extra doohickeys like photos.

And Adobe hasn't released Digital Editions for Pocket PC (yet).

Are my expectations just wrong?

-bjc
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Old 09-25-2008, 03:01 PM   #8
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ah, i see why you would be frustrated. that result surprises me quite a bit, to be honest. i've not made an epub from indesign so far (i haven't upgraded to the new version yet, so i can't) so i'm afraid i can't help you, but there MUST be a way to get a better result than that, otherwise i really don't see the point of integrating the feature into indesign.

just a (completely random...) guess : to get the epub, do you "save as" or "export" ? if both are available, try the other one. and see if there is a preferences dialogue box for the epub export, like there is for pdf exports. as i said, i don't know what to do, since my indesign won't make epub, but based on what i know of the app i would expect some possibility like that.

as for mobi, the epub files i've converted have worked fine (the first time, it was accidental ; i double clicked the file thinking i would unzip it that way, and it opened in mobipocket. it did take several seconds). check if you have the most recent version of mobipocket. for me, it opened like any other mobi file : it was added to the library, and it opened the file directly for reading.
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Old 09-25-2008, 03:21 PM   #9
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I've done (what looks like) the right settings in cs3 to export the epub - embed the fonts, resize the graphics, etc etc. No "save-as" for epub - it's a "cross-media export", like their idea of html export. (Not quite as bad as Quark's html export, but very close to and-the-point-is?-ed-ness).

Funny, the epub looks remarkably like the original Word document I imported into InDesign, before I started playing. Seems to be a rather unnecessarily pricey word-to-epub converter.

Even the "how to use indesign" books say "you might want to not bother so much with epub - it's not a very complete standard, producing unexpected results". No kidding.

In case nobody noticed, Quark's .lit converter was terrible - even worse than this.

It would be nice to be able to use a real pagination program (like Quark or InDesign) to produce ebooks - after all, that's what's usually used to produce real books. Until then: Epub is better because.....??????

-bjc
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Old 09-25-2008, 04:04 PM   #10
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I'm not trying to be rude, but you dont seem to understand the concept of reflow. The whole idea behind the "ebook" is that there is no longer a concept of "page". Ebook formats, like EPUB, as opposed to paper formats, like PDF, are meant to be reflowable. That means, you simply cannot acheive the level of layout control that you can with page based documents.

The big advantage of reflowable documents is that they can be viewed well on a large variety of screen sizes. If you want to create good looking epub books, use a HTML editor to create a good looking web page and then convert that into a epub book. Trying to produce a good looking reflowable document from software designed for fixed page layouts is futile.
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Old 09-25-2008, 04:41 PM   #11
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kovid, a lot of what you say makes sense, and i would agree that logically the best way to make epub is to start from html, but nonetheless i think there seem to be a LOT of details that *should* be available from indesign and don't seem to get carried over in the export there, regardless of reflow. things like dropcaps, floated images within a specific paragraph, and italics should all be included. i agree with the op : indesign's epub production is (for the moment at least) disappointing at best, and given that precisely that is one of the big selling points in hypothetical discussions with publishers ("you can integrate ebook creation right into your workflow ! export epub directly from indesign when you do the layout of the print edition !") i would have expected better.

let's just hope that adobe makes more of an effort in later versions of indesign. in the meantime though, it looks like the best option is to make your epub from html.

as usual, i'll point out that (if you don't want to make a print copy, and therefore don't *need* to use indesign) one easy way to make a GOOD epub ebook is using the feedbooks.com interface. especially with the new features hadrien has been implementing it's turning into a really complete and powerful app.
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Old 09-25-2008, 04:49 PM   #12
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That means, you simply cannot acheive the level of layout control that you can with page based documents.
Certainly true, but it is a matter of degree rather than an absolute difference. There is no reason why many of the elements of the fixed page design can't carry over. Almost all the missing distinctive elements here (italics for author, large 1st character, flow around an image) can be achieved using ePub, see Ebook page design. I have not seen a large 1st character for a chapter in ePubs (they are an ugly rash all over Amazon Kindle topaz ebooks), and perhaps this is an element best avoided in a reflowable version. Overall, this seems to be a lack of skill on the part of InDesign, particularly in leaving the image at the bottom of the page.

Other elements, like hyphenation, do seem to be lacking in ePub and are not intrinsically disallowed by reflow. Given how may things are required by ePub, some basic standard hyphenation capability would have been nice.
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Old 09-25-2008, 04:50 PM   #13
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Yeah but indesign undoubtedly has its internals designed around the fixed size layout concept, which means that's its probably never going to be good at creating epub.

And really, telling publishers that the advantage of epub is that it can be easily integrated into their existing workflows is somewhat disingenuous. An ebook (especially a well designed one) is a very different beast from a pbook and there is no way that the same workflow is going to be able to produce both good looking ebooks and pbooks.
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Old 09-25-2008, 05:00 PM   #14
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kovid : interesting point. perhaps this was naïve on my part but i sincerely expected indesign (particularly given it's an adobe product, and adobe seem to be quite implicated in epub) to be able to make an acceptable epub file. this does not seem to be the case. hopefully it will improve.

it's true, ebooks *are* completely different from pbooks, however i really don't see why the export could not be integrated into indesign, given a certain degree of thinking ahead, both on the part of adobe dev team and on the part of the end user (through new features, and through user-defined preferences) ; if you use a style called "chapter" (or whatever) for your chapter titles, indesign could automatically recognize that, and shuffle off the text to the toc element. this could be defined via a dialogue box ("style x goes in this element, style y in this other element...") if you are properly using styles to create your document this should not pose a problem. options could be added to text boxes to say "every time i force a page break in a certain way, you create a new xhtml chapter element for the epub" (perhaps they could add a new page break called "chapter break" for just this case). images could be linked to the paragraph they're floated next to. dropcaps (wallcraft : large 1st character is called a dropcap) can be done with css.

again, perhaps i'm naive, but adobe does some amazing things, and they should understand epub, so i really don't think this should be impossible.
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Old 09-25-2008, 05:22 PM   #15
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well the basic problem is that indesign will represent things internally in a fixed layout fashion. So whe you add an image to a page, it will represent the position of the image as "10cm from the top and 3 cm from the left" instead of "indetween the sentences so and so" as would be neccessary for reflowable documents.

THis particular problem is relatively easy to fix, however, the point is that the whole of indesign probably make assumptions like that and fixing the whole thing is going to be a rather non-trivial task.

A more philosophical issue is that you often dont want the sorts of structures you create for a fixed layout in a reflowable one. This is because things that look good at a certain page size, dont, at a very different page size. As a result your design tool needs tohelp you to design and preview your document at various page sizes.
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