ebookcraft and Tech Forum 2015

I’ll be speaking at both ebookcraft and Tech Forum in Toronto this year.

My talk for ebookcraft is tentatively titled ‘Stone, bronze, iron, ink, silicon (or “I’m the laziest developer out there”).’ I’m going to discuss the general movement of software from one-off projects (writing all your code by hand) to systems like CMSes (which write most of your code for you) and why this really will be the future of ebook publishing.

And my talk for Tech Forum is on “A Tale of Two Cultures.” It will be more of a general talk about the divide between publishing culture and tech/developer culture and how both sides can work together (and who should win what when they can’t).

Even if you hate my topics :), there will be a wide range of great speakers at both conference dates, including our own Anne-Marie and frequent contributor Laura Brady. ebookcraft focuses specifically on the ebook market while Tech Forum is a bit more of a general publishing and technology conference. You can register for one or both events here.

Hope to see you at either event in March!

epubcheck 101: Just What is Epubcheck?

Parts of ebook creation can be confusing to those coming over from the print world. One of the tools people commonly ask me about is epubcheck. It’s a powerful tool that unfortunately isn’t the most human-friendly. Today we’ll look at why it’s important to use it, and in future posts we’ll look at how to use it.

What is Epubcheck?

The EPUB spec provides a set of rules for the creation of EPUB files. These rules define what elements are required, what elements are optional, and what elements are explicitly forbidden from being in EPUB files. And while you could read the entire spec if you wanted to…well it’s better if there were just a tool that could check your file and tell you if your file met this specification.

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New InDesign 10.1 EPUB features

InDesign was updated in early October of this year and along with it came a slew of new EPUB features.

And while the biggest update announced was the new Fixed Layout Interactivity, we’ll focus on just the myriad of small FLX and reflowable updates in this post. (Don’t worry, we’ll talk about the FXL Interactives in an upcoming post).

If you’re wondering where we got a list of these updates, Douglas Waterfall was nice enough to link to this document on twitter a while back.

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Books on the Web, Part 2: What Still Needs Improvement on the Web

Recently I led a webinar for Digital Book World on producing Books on the Web. It’s gotten a decent enough response that I thought it would be beneficial to publish some excerpts of it here as well. The first part of the series—on the benefits of books on the web—can be found here. You can find the whole webinar archived on DBW here.

In the first part of our books on the web series, we looked at some of the positives to publishing books to the web. While there are a lot of great reasons to begin testing the web browser waters, it’s still early in the development of books on the web. Today we’ll look at some things you should think about before getting into web publishing.

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InDesign FXLs: prevent UI from displaying with touches

If you’ve been playing around with InDesign’s FXL export, you know it allows for a huge amount of interactivity with almost no hand coding.

There’s just one thing they missed in the export option. When you tap on an element to trigger an interactive in iBooks on iOS and Kobo tablets, it often triggers the reader Chrome.

When tapped in iBooks, the iBooks UI chrome appears.

When tapped in iBooks, the iBooks UI chrome appears.

You could argue that’s expected behavior, but it creates a sub-optimal reader experience. The great news is that it’s super easy to fix. Let’s dig in.

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Books on the Web, Part 1: What’s So Great About the Web?

Recently I led a webinar for Digital Book World on producing Books on the Web. It’s gotten a decent enough response that I thought it would be beneficial to publish some excerpts of it here as well. You can find the whole webinar archived on DBW here.

Even though this site is called EPUBSecrets, the truth is we love any book in a digital format—be it an EPUB, a .mobi, or an iBooks Author file. One area we often overlook is publishing books via the web. It’s not the most common place to produce a book, but it has many interesting benefits that are often overlooked. Here’s just a couple reasons why you might consider publishing your book to the web.

A Browser on Every Device

One of the great things about the rise of smartphones and tablets is that they all have one app in common: a web browser. Even Kindle’s e-ink devices ship with a web browser (and it even supports interactivity with javascript). This creates an ecosystem where the lowest friction option to getting someone a digital book might not be an EPUB delivered through a retailer, but might actually be as simple as providing an URL.

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New book proofing tool in iBooks for OS X Yosemite

Prior to OS X Yosemite, Apple had a standalone app called Book Proofer that EPUB producers could use to test EPUB files on iOS Devices. Since Yosemite, however, the Book Proofer app has had issues syncing with iOS.

Today with the release of iBooks Asset Guide 5.2Rev2 (available to users who have access to the iBookstore in iTunes Connect) there’s a new way that will work in Yosemite. Here’s how to easily sync and proof books on iOS devices with OS X Yosemite.

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Fixing Kindle Previewer on OS X Yosemite

Apple’s newest OS X release, Yosemite, seems to be breaking Kindle Previewer. Here’s how to fix it.

Install Java

Download the Apple supported version of Java here: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1572?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

Install xQuartz

Install xQuartz from here: http://xquartz.macosforge.org/landing/

Once both of these applications are installed you should have no issues opening EPUBs and other file types in Kindle Previewer.

A big thanks to @elmimmo_ and @BNGOBooks on the #eprdctn Twitter hashtag for their help in resolving these issues.