Getting Started with Fixed-Layout ePUBs
If you need to create fixed-layout ePUBs for iBooks, there are a number of resources available for doing so. First, take a look at the iBookstore Asset Guide for Apple’s current specification.
This week Anne-Marie Concepcion (@amarie) released her new Lynda.com tutorial “Creating a Fixed-Layout ePUB”. This three-hour-and-fifteen-minute session with walk you through the creation of fixed-layout ePUBs using mainly Adobe tools like Acrobat Pro, InDesign, and Dreamweaver. Anne-Marie does a great job of exploring the basics of fixed-layout to begin the tutorial, then shows how you can make a fixed-layout ePUB from scratch, from a PDF, and from an InDesign file.
Anne-Marie’s session joins a number of other notable resources on fixed-layout ePUBs. Liz Castro’s (@lizcastro) miniguide Fixed Layout EPUBs for iPad and iPhone was one of the first publications after the launch of iBooks with instructions on how to create fixed-layout ePUBs for iOS. Liz breaks the process down into nice, bite-sized chunks: specifying the fixed layout, defining the size of the page, adding images, adding text, and additional settings to finish the ePUB. It is a bargain at $4.
Liza Daly (@liza) has a good deconstruction of the Apple fixed-layout format on her Threepress Consulting blog in the post “Understanding Apple’s fixed-layout EPUBs.” Her forensic process explains what is in a fixed layout file, how it works, and how you can make one yourself. She even provides a DRM-free fixed-layout ePUB you can download, open up, and explore yourself.
Over at the MobileRead Wiki, there is a great page on Fixed layout ePub that not only walks you through the iBooks fixed-layout format, but also provides information on making fixed-layout ePUBs for Kobo, B&N’s Digital Replica Plus (DRP) [B&N has not released their spec publicly for some unknown reason and you literally need to “know a guy/gal” at B&N if you want to see the full spec], and even Amazon’s KF8.
One of my favorite tutorials on creating fixed-layout ePUBs is R. Scot Johns’s (@RScotJohns) seven-part series of posts “How To Create Fixed-Layout iBooks” on Scot’s Blog: The Adventures of an Independent Author. In Part 1, Scot covers the basics of what a fixed-layout ePUB is, the template for creating one, and resources available to help you. In Part 2, he covers the file structure, the mimetype file, the container file, and the com.apple file. In Part 3, he covers display resolution, file size limits, iPad screen size, and spanning images. In Part 4, he covers how to create a fixed-layout page, including the head element and the body element. In Part 5, he covers the CSS file and the .NCX file. In Part 6, he covers metadata, the manifest, the spine, and the guide. In Part 7, he covers embedding fonts, creating content, calling your fonts, and positioning your text. Scot’s test ePUB, Theft of the Rhinegold, looks beautiful by the way, and you can get a sample chapter here.
Hopefully, these resources can help you start creating fixed-layout ePUBs yourself. Remember, most of this information is for iBooks-only ePUBs; they won’t work anywhere else at the moment. I have another post on fixed-layout in the ePUB 3.0 spec coming soon.
Have you found other resources for creating fixed-layout ePUBs? What tricks and tips do you have for creating them?