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Old 01-01-2010, 08:46 AM   #1
LDBoblo
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ePub -> InDesign -> PDF possible?

This is a pretty dumb question I guess, but I don't care, I'm asking anyway.

Has anyone figured out a good way to make an epub importable to InDesign CS3 so that a decent PDF can be made from it?

Thus far, I've been sticking to books that have minimal extra formatting, so I can more or less just pull the text from the HTML files and do fresh formatting, without mucking about in CSS, and giving me some freedom to do manual kerning and font niceties before exporting to PDF. However, with books with lots of footnotes/endnotes or more complex styling with many chapters, it becomes more of a hassle than it's worth, since a lot of work ends up being done manually. When there's a set of footnotes on almost every page, it's not very convenient to individually copy/paste/adjust.

I doubt there's a shortcut that allows significant control. I haven't tried the Prince XML conversion method, but I'm not sure how useful it'd be to me, and I'd really prefer to abandon linked endnotes and use proper footnotes instead.

As I admitted earlier, this is a bit of a stupid question. If anyone out there's got an idea though how I could pull more efficiently from an ePub for proper PDF creation, I'd love to know.
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Old 01-03-2010, 12:05 PM   #2
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i don't have any experience with InDesign, but I'm a little surprised it doesn't convert ePubs out of the box.

The real problem with trying to convert linked endnotes to real footnotes is that endnote/footnotes are not "semantically" encoded in HTML/ePub; there's no technical difference between them and other internal hyperlinks, and so the converter would have to use some kind of artificial intelligence to tell what counts as what. Maybe just any link that contains only numbers and punctuation would count as a footnote? But even, it would have to guess where the linked-to footnote text "ends"--again, not an easy thing to code.

The footnotes/endnotes issue aside...

Personally, I think the output of Prince XML is quite nice looking -- definitely qualifies as "decent". And you can make use of Jellby's wonderful script to automate the conversion process.

Ahi (a member here) was working on an HTML (and ultimately) ePub > LaTeX converter script specifically designed for ebooks, and personally I think pdfLaTeX output is just as nice looking as InDesign output -- in fact, I can barely distinguish them. I don't know whether he's finished it, and whether or not he's tried to deal with footnote recognition. If not, then there are other general purpose HTML>LaTeX conversion scripts out there you can try. Personally, I'd much prefer to see a polished ePub > LaTeXed PDF script than anything for InDesign, mainly because I don't have the money for the latter, but also, since pdflatex can be run from the commandline, it would make automation/scripting easier.

Last edited by frabjous; 01-03-2010 at 04:43 PM.
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Old 01-03-2010, 12:48 PM   #3
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Epubs don't go into Indesign; they come out of it. So, sorry, no, you can't open an epub in indesign and create a pdf.

Now:

If you start with an Indesign file, yes, you can output both an epub and a pdf. I haven't done anything with reflowable pdfs yet, so I can't say how effective it would be to start with the same source. Indesign's take on epub is fairly rudimentary, though it does do some cool things (like embed fonts - easily).

Adobe's workflow seems to be:

Word-->Indesign-->epub.

I think, though, there would need to be some modifications to the middleground file to make an effective pdf - it could use more cool indesign tricks than an epub can.

Both TeX and pdf are print-oriented. Epub is something different - not quite web, not quite a paper book.

-bjc
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Old 01-03-2010, 01:24 PM   #4
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Certainly I'm not terribly offended by the prospect of going with TeX instead of InDesign...I'm just more familiar with design software as it was part of my previous line of work.

With stuff with lots of linked endnotes like the ePub of Terry Pratchett's "Unseen Academicals", they're provided as distinct html files (27 of them). In the end, I just brought them in manually as footnotes in InDesign, which was a bit of extra work but not too bad. The bigger problems come from managing white space left by widow/orphan control, especially when combined with the bigger footnotes (page 1 of that book is a doozy).

I'm not too offended at doing things manually...but I worry that I'll spend more time redoing my books than reading them. It's a bit of idiocy anyway, since I'm not allowed to share my results unless I work solely with out-of-copyright stuff.

I should investigate Jellby's script more...anyone got any good samples of output? I'll probably search for them, but doesn't hurt to troll for recommendations.
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Old 01-03-2010, 04:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LDBoblo View Post
I should investigate Jellby's script more...anyone got any good samples of output? I'll probably search for them, but doesn't hurt to troll for recommendations.
Sorry I had meant to put in a working link to the thread for jellby's script, but apparently I forgot. I'll edit to fix.

There are some samples in this thread.

You can also download some public domain PDFs from Feedbooks.com, since they use Prince XML to make theirs (though presumably not with Jellby's script--still, the output is similar).
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