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Old 05-06-2009, 05:10 AM   #1
tibiafry
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ePub. Several formatting problems

Hello, I'm working for a publishing house and we plan to release sook the ebooks under the ePub format. We're already selling books under Mobipocket format. Our books are made in InDesign and then usually printed. But now, we have also to start offering ePub files, and the font has to be (logically) that *.indd file.

Now the problem comes with the built-in export function of InDesign. It isn't acting properly:
  • The images are put at the end of the ePub
  • The Italics, bolds, etc. are lost*
  • Paragraph styles are not respected (indentations, etc.)*
  • Blank lines are stripped, altough I'd like them to be there: so it makes some difference between a paragraph separated from the previous one by a blank line, and a paragraph that goes just after the last one.
  • I don't know how to divide chapters into several xhtml files so I can produce a "best practices" compliant epub.

So what do I have to do now is. Once I have exported the ePub, manually open the xhtml and css files and:
  • xhtml: Put the html code of the images where it should go.
  • css: edit font styles so that "italics" style is showed as italics, and so on.
  • css: edit paragraph styles so that they're properly displayed.
  • xhtml: edit by hand the blank lines with the "<p>&nbsp;</p>" trick.
  • Totally pass of the separate xhtml files for the chapters. Instead, putting an especial paragraph style on the css that forces a page-break.

Now, that's a really huge work to do for some thoursands of books we have xD
I wouldn't maybe care if it really solved something but then I have had a very disgusting surprise (also repeated for the mobipocket books):
  • I was looking the results in the ADE software, and everything was nice.
  • I then proudly uploaded the file to a CyBook eReader (mobi file) and Chapter page breaks and Blank lines (shown on the mobipocket desktop reader) were no longer there!
  • Ok, let's see what happens with ePub on the HanLin. Surprise, surprise: I can't really understand how many of you blame so much publishers and really let this piece of crappy rendering eReader in peace. It simply deleted or added spaces " " where it wanted (it's not really the file problem); stripped the blank lines and the page breaks; and totally messed up the paragraph and font styling.
  • Oh and I can't test it on the Iliad because the screen has broken for the second time... wtf.

So, what should I do? I want to offer a competitive product, that really is liked among the readers, not a piece of crap taht anybody can produce. So, any tips, for anything?

Last edited by tibiafry; 05-06-2009 at 05:13 AM.
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Old 05-06-2009, 05:19 AM   #2
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Hi TibiaFry,

You could try exporting from InDesign in a different format and then using another program (calibre) for example to convert that to ePub format. Also since you say you currently produce books in mobipocket format, I beleive mobipocket have a free program for creating ePubs forem mobi format books, I think it's called Mobipocket Creator? Something like that anyway.

Cheers,

Steve (ondabeach)
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Old 05-06-2009, 05:41 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tibiafry View Post
Hello, I'm working for a publishing house and we plan to release sook the ebooks under the ePub format. We're already selling books under Mobipocket format. Our books are made in InDesign and then usually printed. But now, we have also to start offering ePub files, and the font has to be (logically) that *.indd file.

Now the problem comes with the built-in export function of InDesign. It isn't acting properly:
  • The images are put at the end of the ePub
  • The Italics, bolds, etc. are lost*
  • Paragraph styles are not respected (indentations, etc.)*
  • Blank lines are stripped, altough I'd like them to be there: so it makes some difference between a paragraph separated from the previous one by a blank line, and a paragraph that goes just after the last one.
  • I don't know how to divide chapters into several xhtml files so I can produce a "best practices" compliant epub.

So what do I have to do now is. Once I have exported the ePub, manually open the xhtml and css files and:
  • xhtml: Put the html code of the images where it should go.
  • css: edit font styles so that "italics" style is showed as italics, and so on.
  • css: edit paragraph styles so that they're properly displayed.
  • xhtml: edit by hand the blank lines with the "<p>&nbsp;</p>" trick.
  • Totally pass of the separate xhtml files for the chapters. Instead, putting an especial paragraph style on the css that forces a page-break.

Now, that's a really huge work to do for some thoursands of books we have xD
I wouldn't maybe care if it really solved something but then I have had a very disgusting surprise (also repeated for the mobipocket books):
  • I was looking the results in the ADE software, and everything was nice.
  • I then proudly uploaded the file to a CyBook eReader (mobi file) and Chapter page breaks and Blank lines (shown on the mobipocket desktop reader) were no longer there!
  • Ok, let's see what happens with ePub on the HanLin. Surprise, surprise: I can't really understand how many of you blame so much publishers and really let this piece of crappy rendering eReader in peace. It simply deleted or added spaces " " where it wanted (it's not really the file problem); stripped the blank lines and the page breaks; and totally messed up the paragraph and font styling.
  • Oh and I can't test it on the Iliad because the screen has broken for the second time... wtf.

So, what should I do? I want to offer a competitive product, that really is liked among the readers, not a piece of crap taht anybody can produce. So, any tips, for anything?
1. Forget InDesign
Your approach to edit xhtml files is the right one. Just do that directly without involving InDesign's crappy code.

2.The mobi, as you might know, doesn't support the xhtml stylesheets in its entirety. Don't even try to convert a (more sophisticated ) epub file directly to Mobi. Won't work. You need an xhtml source file to create both book files from. page breaks, however, should work fine with both formats. Better use them directly in the source file, though (no external page break style to a tag)

3 HanLin's support of epub files is crap, too. No CSS supported whatsoever and the book is essentially flatlined.
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Old 05-06-2009, 06:27 AM   #4
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A couple of things...When you are testing your ePub on a reader, use a Sony Reader 505 or 700 as they have ADE on board and if it works there, it works. The V3 and clones are not a good test reader as we don't know how good the ePub support is or not. But we know that Sony is using Adobe's mobile ADE. So get a Sony Reader 505 or 700 to test your ePub for mobile devices.

Also, once you have a well made ePub, give Calibre a try to go from ePub to Mobipocket. It does a very good job converting. Better then Mobipocket Creator.
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Old 05-06-2009, 06:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ondabeach View Post
Hi TibiaFry,

You could try exporting from InDesign in a different format and then using another program (calibre) for example to convert that to ePub format. Also since you say you currently produce books in mobipocket format, I beleive mobipocket have a free program for creating ePubs forem mobi format books, I think it's called Mobipocket Creator? Something like that anyway.

Cheers,

Steve (ondabeach)
The problem exporting to another format is even worse, since ePub export function is essentially build to generate ePubs. If I make a standard xml, the format "tagging" is lost, and the work to do is even harder. With PDF, for instance, I would have to re-arrange all the formatting too. So that's not an option. In fact, to create a Mobipocket we plan to use ePub as source, since once I have the correct ePub working, the conversion from this ePub to mobi is fast and reliable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtravellerh View Post
1. Forget InDesign
Your approach to edit xhtml files is the right one. Just do that directly without involving InDesign's crappy code.

2.The mobi, as you might know, doesn't support the xhtml stylesheets in its entirety. Don't even try to convert a (more sophisticated ) epub file directly to Mobi. Won't work. You need an xhtml source file to create both book files from. page breaks, however, should work fine with both formats. Better use them directly in the source file, though (no external page break style to a tag)

3 HanLin's support of epub files is crap, too. No CSS supported whatsoever and the book is essentially flatlined.
1. I'm afraid I can't forget InDesign, for the simple fact that the book is only in this format. So I need to start from InDesign either I want it or not .

2. I didn't knew that one. I realize (with point 3 too) that css is more a problem than a solution. I think I could make a script to split the xhtml into several ones, but it would take me some time (maybe that's the best solution for that). So how do I create that xhtml source file avoiding all of the problems of my first post? (HA!). Do you know where I can read more about css integration with the formats and how much of it is supported for every reader? One thing that annoys me is that ADE or Mobipocket reader display a thing and then the eReaders display another thing. WTF. (and I'm not talking about reflowable text, I'm talking about «serious business»)

3. I see...


Thanks for both of your replies.
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Old 05-06-2009, 07:11 AM   #6
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I've never used InDesign, but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by tibiafry View Post
Blank lines are stripped, altough I'd like them to be there: so it makes some difference between a paragraph separated from the previous one by a blank line, and a paragraph that goes just after the last one.
Don't use blank lines. If you want a paragraph separated from the previous one, add some vertical space to one of them (either the bottom of the first or the top of the second).

Quote:
xhtml: edit by hand the blank lines with the "<p>&nbsp;</p>" trick.
Don't. At the very least use <div style="margin-top: 1em"></div> instead, but better as I said above.
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tibiafry View Post
[*]The Italics, bolds, etc. are lost*
To solve this problem, you need to use character tags for bold and italic rather than general bold and italic. The character tag has to specifically name the font, the font has to have the attribute as a font, not as an add-on, and the font should be an OpenType font rather than a TrueType or PostScript font.

If you are using InDesign CS4, update to the newest fix (released just in the past few days) as it fixes a problem that occurs in epub creation when the original document consists of more than 1 file.

There are several problems inherent in the ID method for creating epub documents. Iit works best if the entire book is in a ID single file. However, this could cause you to exceed the maximum recommended file size, especially if there are a lot of graphs and images. There are several other problems as well, but these are the most difficult to overcome initially.
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Old 05-08-2009, 06:05 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by rhadin View Post
To solve this problem, you need to use character tags for bold and italic rather than general bold and italic. The character tag has to specifically name the font, the font has to have the attribute as a font, not as an add-on, and the font should be an OpenType font rather than a TrueType or PostScript font.

If you are using InDesign CS4, update to the newest fix (released just in the past few days) as it fixes a problem that occurs in epub creation when the original document consists of more than 1 file.

There are several problems inherent in the ID method for creating epub documents. Iit works best if the entire book is in a ID single file. However, this could cause you to exceed the maximum recommended file size, especially if there are a lot of graphs and images. There are several other problems as well, but these are the most difficult to overcome initially.
Yes I have to just edit the CSS file, I know this. About the font, i don't know wich one I'm using but i can't change it since it's the font used for the printed books.

Jellby, Ok, I'll try it.
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Old 06-15-2010, 09:15 PM   #9
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[QUOTE=tibiafry;451252]What did you do? I have all the same problems, I work for a publishing house too and it is killing me these problems!
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Old 06-16-2010, 03:02 AM   #10
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All styling information that you want to preserve in the ePub must be applied through the use of paragraph and character styles (and you should be doing this anyway, it's just good practice).

The book should have a ToC created within inDesign in order to generate the correct links.

The CS5 version of inDesign will automatically split the output into separate flows as long as your ToC is properly generated. If you're still using CS4, then you need to construct the book as a collection of documents (usually one per chapter), which will then be output as separate flows.

The more specific you can be about the problems you have, the more help people can give. Printing a book requires a certain amount of expertise, and the same is true of creating an ebook. It's not rocket science, but don't go looking for magical one-click solutions.
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Old 06-16-2010, 04:37 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tibiafry View Post
Yes I have to just edit the CSS file, I know this. About the font, i don't know wich one I'm using but i can't change it since it's the font used for the printed books.

Jellby, Ok, I'll try it.
Sez who you can't have a different font in an ebook version from the print version?

One of the glories of well formatted ebooks and compliant readers is that the user has a choice of font families, font size, and whether the text is justified or left aligned. So if you get your book published and it is properly formatted I'll read it with a sans font with justified text, and not whatever it is in the print book version. And I'll read it at a font size which suits my eyes, and not what is in the print book.

Is it possible that you still have the pdf/print book mind set?

Regards, Alex
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Old 06-18-2010, 12:43 AM   #12
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Is it possible that you still have the pdf/print book mind set?

I can't speak for other graphic designer that specializes in books, but I work for a publishing house and the clients want to see their book EXACTLY as they look when they are printed.
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Old 06-18-2010, 06:06 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by denissinia View Post
I can't speak for other graphic designer that specializes in books, but I work for a publishing house and the clients want to see their book EXACTLY as they look when they are printed.
So it's the clients who have the pdf/print book mindset. If I ever buy one of these clients' books I'll still read it my way, if it's formatted well enough to let me, and will neither know nor care what the font in the print book might be.

I'm merely a potential customer, but you can quote me if you like. For what it is worth it seems to me that it is impossible to have an ebook look EXACTLY as it looks when it is printed. Do the the clients insist on having page numbers attributed to chapters? And the same page number as in the print book?

Regards, Alex
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Old 06-18-2010, 10:44 AM   #14
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Quote:
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I can't speak for other graphic designer that specializes in books, but I work for a publishing house and the clients want to see their book EXACTLY as they look when they are printed.
Really?

But sometimes I'm reading on an iPod Touch with a ~3" diagonal screen. Other times I'm reading on a Sony reader with a 6" screen. Still other times, I'm reading on a computer with a 24" screen. Note that these screens all have different aspect ratios, different "resolution" (a.k.a. total number of pixels), and different resolution (in pixels-per-inch).

Speaking as a reader -- your client's potential customer! -- what I want is a book that is usefully readable on all of the above devices.

And that means that you must be thinking in terms of reflowable text, not "page layout." Failure to recognize this results in books that are unusable on at least one of my reading devices. And that leads to returns, chargebacks, and grumpy customer letters. (Note that there are plenty of things you can still do -- drop-caps, good layout, etc. -- but a match to the printed page is right out.)

I urge you to educate your customer. They are demanding a mis-feature that will seriously reduce their electronic sales. Tell them so, in no uncertain terms. Then, if they truly insist, produce PDF files. Those will look "exactly like the printed page" -- if the display device can do it. Best of all (from my point of view), it won't fool the customer into thinking that they are buying a usable ebook for any device whose screen is smaller than the page-size of the pdf file.

Xenophon

P.S. I'd ask you to mock them publicly, but that would be unprofessional (so don't do it). Instead, tell them that their target audience considers their stated goal to be worthy of public mockery...
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Old 06-18-2010, 11:07 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by denissinia View Post
the clients want to see their book EXACTLY as they look when they are printed.
Do they want the background to be a paper texture image? Do they want the letters to have ink blotches? Do they want a mirror image of the back page as "watermark"? Do they want the halftone dots to be seen in the ebook? Do they want the ebook to look like the printed book... wide open? held with one hand? folded back?
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