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Old 06-03-2011, 07:10 PM   #1
dezignlady
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columns in ePubs

I am new the forum, and relatively new to ePubs. I've successfully generated a couple of them thanks to Anne-Marie and her video on Lynda.com but I have just been presented with an opportunity to work on another one, with possibly several more to follow. The challenge, at least to me, is the books require a column in the outside margin where small study notes will accompany each paragraph. These are simple books otherwise so setting them shouldn't be too hard, I'm just not sure what would be the best approach in InDesign.
I've considered an anchored object, but then does the CSS recognize and honor the positioning or do I have edit that?
A table? but there are about 100 pages, albeit short pages, that would have to be on continuous table.
I am looking for suggestions and options so that I can figure a quote to convert this book.
thanks all.
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Old 06-04-2011, 03:47 AM   #2
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Consider that an ebook might be read in a device with a narrow screen; even if the screen is not particularly narrow, a user might set a quite large font size, making the screen narrow in relation to the font size. In such a screen, I don't think having columns is desirable or nice. My advice: try to find a different way to present the information. Maybe as foot/endnotes with links, maybe as boxes between paragraphs...
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Old 06-04-2011, 03:59 AM   #3
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Jelly is absolutely right; this style of presentation just doesn't work on the small screen of an ebook reader.
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:18 AM   #4
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Well the printed book is currently between the size of an iPad and a Kindle and the text is already 12 pt. This being academia they are pretty set on it appearing with the study notes in the margin. Is there a way to effectively do this?
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dezignlady View Post
Well the printed book is currently between the size of an iPad and a Kindle and the text is already 12 pt.
So, it's larger than most readers (which are Kindle-size or smaller), and has a font that many users with sight problems (and needing reading glasses is already a "problem") would find small.

Quote:
This being academia they are pretty set on it appearing with the study notes in the margin. Is there a way to effectively do this?
So they want it to look exactly like a printed book? Then make a PDF.

You could put the sidenotes in boxes with "float: left" (or right), but it's going to look pretty crappy in many configurations.
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Old 06-04-2011, 09:14 AM   #6
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I think personally that linked end-notes would work a heck of a lot better. Surely the goal is to produce something that works well as an e-book, not slavishly adhere to the appearance of the printed book?
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Old 06-04-2011, 09:31 AM   #7
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Well sometimes the clients want what the clients want. These notes need to appear next to the paragraph as a study note, having them at the end would mean the reader would probably not read them, having them interrupt the text flow would make it hard to read. Since this is college and post-graduate readers the font size doesn't have to be huge, it was just the choice of the publisher 11 years ago. Since a table is acceptable to the HTML/CSS, and since the chapters are not terribly long I am hoping that might be the best option at the moment to go to ePub, since, if I understand all this correctly, a PDF is not an option for Kindle or Nook.
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Old 06-04-2011, 09:34 AM   #8
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PDF works absolutely fine for the Kindle and nook, provided that it's correctly sized for the 6" screen. The issue arises when people try to read PDFs formatted for an A4/Letter page on a 6" screen - that doesn't work at all well. If the PDF is designed for the 6" screen, it will look good. The issue with PDF on the Kindle is that hyperlinks don't work, dictionary lookup doesn't work, and you can't add annotations.

But I'm a little puzzled by your mention of the Kindle. Weren't we discussing an ePub book? The Kindle doesn't use ePub.
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Old 06-04-2011, 09:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
PDF works absolutely fine for the Kindle and nook, provided that it's correctly sized for the 6" screen. The issue arises when people try to read PDFs formatted for an A4/Letter page on a 6" screen - that doesn't work at all well. If the PDF is designed for the 6" screen, it will look good. The issue with PDF on the Kindle is that hyperlinks don't work, dictionary lookup doesn't work, and you can't add annotations.
Well that is good to know, I have been reading otherwise. I plan on reformatting the book to a small screen size since it's a complete redo of an old Pagemaker file. So what I might do is test the table theory and one as a PDF. For this publication there aren't any links but the dictionary look-up might be a problem. They have quite a few older documents like this that they would like to make available for mobile reading so just trying to hammer out the best and most cost-effective approach.
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Old 06-04-2011, 12:21 PM   #10
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Can we see a sample page of what kind of information there is in the sidenotes? Would it really be that much of a problem if the sidenotes were presented before the paragraph, in a smaller font, with a frame, and with a generous left margin, for instance?

Sometimes the clients want what the clients want, sure, but part of your work is explaining to the clients why what they want might not be a good idea. If you were an architect and a client asked you for something unreasonable (insecure, too expensive, too hot in summer, against local law, hard to maintain...) you'd be expected to explain it to your client, and make sure it's what he really wants, no matter what.

In this case, an ePUB book is not something that will be read on a Nook or iPad and that's all. No, it's something that someone, somewhere, will want to read on a smartphone, someone else will need to read with a 24pt font, and another person will need a text-to-speech system to read it. The best solution for a printed book is often not the best solution for an ebook.
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Old 06-04-2011, 12:32 PM   #11
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If have a pdf like that, with a wide margin and notes in it.
It's just awful to read on an e-reader because the margin takes all the much needed reading space.

Isn't there footnotes when using ePub ?
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Old 06-04-2011, 12:47 PM   #12
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No, ePub doesn't support footnotes. Ones uses endnotes instead.
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Old 06-04-2011, 02:28 PM   #13
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I agree with Jellby. This seems a perfect use for sidenote that float beside the paragraph. They will be sized to take up the least space and should meet the clients need. I would suggest a few sample pages using sidenotes be presented to the client. This is what they are designed to do after all.

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Old 06-04-2011, 04:25 PM   #14
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I don't think that Jellby was suggesting that, Dale, unless I've misunderstood.
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Old 06-04-2011, 07:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
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I don't think that Jellby was suggesting that, Dale, unless I've misunderstood.
He said: "You could put the sidenotes in boxes with "float: left" (or right), but it's going to look pretty crappy in many configurations."

I am not so sure it would look crappy but it may be that some of the implementations wouldn't support this part of the standard. It seems to be little used. I think the only way to see how it looks is to give it a try and then evaluate. Personally I would like to see a sample of a few of these textbook pages done this way.

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