Creating an eBook Publication

I just finished creating a short eBook using Apple’s Pages ’09 and SnagIt. Patrick from MacSage has two blog postings that give a nice overview.

Here are 9 some key points that I discovered along the way.

I just finished creating a short eBook using Apple’s Pages ’09 and SnagIt. Patrick from MacSage has two blog postings that give a nice overview.

Here are some key points that I discovered along the way:

(1) Use this template to get started. Open this document up in Pages and then do a File/Save as template. You can view the list of styling options in Pages using View/Use Styles Drawer

Formatting is very basic with ePublications due to the wide range of devices that might be used to display the output. Bulleted lists work and so do links. But, there are very few other options. No fancy fonts, no fancy formatting.

I made a few minor size adjustments to the template (making the main heading smaller) and added in my logo, company contact information, and creative commons licensing. Then I did another “file/save as template” with a new name so I can have a custom template that contains elements that will be common to all my ePubs.

Pages inspector window showing the settings for ePublication images

(2) Make certain all your images are set to inline.  Although I would really like to design pages with wrap-around text and use multi-column layouts, ePubs limit this inorder to be fluid and adapt to horizontal and vertical viewing as well as all the different sizes and shapes of displays.

 

(3) ePublication “pages” are set by inserting a Section break.  From the menu select:   Insert/Section break

There is no page numbering because page break may differ depending on the device used to view the document. Instead I just set up bookmarks for each new chapter and made each item in the Table of Contents a link to the appropriate bookmark.

screen shot showing space, paragraph, and section break markers

(4) Pages ’09 automatically makes a Table of Contents when you export to ePub. I didn’t have to do anything. When I viewed the finished document in iBooks there was a Table Of Contents icon and all the chapter heads were listed. Nice.

(5) Display all editing marks so you can see what you are working with. From the menu select:  View/Show invisibles.  Section breaks will display as a blue line with a page icon at the far right.

(6) Embedded videos will make your document HUGE. As an alternative I uploaded a short demo video up to YouTube and then included a hyperlink to that video inside the document.

The ePublication standard does not recognize multimedia yet so trying to add it to your documents is walking the edge of the accessibility cliff.

(7) You aren’t able to put a link around a graphic in Pages ’09. My first inclination was to emulate having the video embedded by including a screenshot of the video so people could click on the image as if it was an embedded video. But I couldn’t make the screen shot into a link. I ended up having a still shot captured from the video and put a normal text hyperlink right above it.

If you create a .pdf document you can use Adobe Acrobat to add an embedded video.  (In Adobe Acrobat Pro Version 10 use View/Tools/Content  and then choose Multimedia/Video from the right sidebar menu

that pops up.) But, once again the PDF file size jumped from 4 meg up to 17 meg. So, I removed the video and just kept the link to YouTube. That made my ePub universal, fairly fast to load, and I knew that YouTube would automatically accommodate any type of display.

Checkbox in ePub export window

(8) Duplicate the first page and use it as the cover to your ePub.  In Pages right-mouse click on the thumbnail page on the left side of the page and select “duplicate”. When you export the ePub make sure the box “Use first page as the cover or your publication” is checked.

(9) Calibre is a free ePublication reader you can download to test your work. It runs on all platforms. Yea!

To view your publication on an iPhone or iPad email it to yourself as an attachment. When you read the email on the mobile device it will ask you if you want to open up the document using iBooks.

On an iPhone the images and screen shots are very tiny and iBooks doesn’t let the user zoom in. Too bad.

Working on the Windows platform? – Check out the SmashWords platform and the Smashwords Style Guide.

Have some other ePub and Pages ’09 tricks that you know about? Post them here for others to use.

Author: Peter K. Johnson

Teaching web development since 2000. I specialize in making education interesting and engaging on the Web.