25 thoughts on “Getting Started with Fixed-Layout ePUBs

  1. Thanks Matt!

    A few of the videos in my Creating a Fixed-Layout ePUB title are free samples, but if you want access to all of them, you need to be a subscriber. Non-subscribers can use this form for one week of unlimited access to all the Lynda.com tutorials, including mine: http://www.lynda.com/trial/indesignsecrets

    I’m not sure if the free trial gives users access to the sample files, but I wanted to note that I have a ton of them there, including a fully-functional fixed-layout epub template (in chapter 3) for those of us who just want to publish one without having to get our hands dirty messing around with code. :D

  2. Thanks for the mention Matt. I’m pleased to hear you enjoyed my tutorial. And thanks as well for the compliment on my sample chapter. I’m hard at work on the next section.

    I also just wanted to let everyone know you can now download the iBooks sample file directly from my website at http://www.fantasycastlebooks.com, and that there is also a KF8 version up now as well. Enjoy!

  3. With the help of all the resources above–Thank you! Thank you!–I have created a read-aloud fixed layout iBook. I am now attempting to add a feature that allows individual words to read and highlight when touched. So far, I can make them read individually, but when one word is touched all of them highlight and it doesn’t go off. The iBooks sample has one word which changes color and triggers a wind audio, which is how I got this far, but it remains highlighted until touched again. Any suggestions? References I might check to learn how to do this?

    • momanna:

      This is basically what you need to do (from the eBook Architects blog here: http://ebookarchitects.com/conversions/fixedlayout.php)

      If you have audio narration available for your eBook, we can add that narration as a media overlay to fixed-layout ePubs in Apple’s platform, allowing readers to have the eBook read to them as they follow along. We place a marker in the code around every word in the book. Then we connect start and end timestamps from your audio files to each of those words, allowing the iBooks software to play the specific portion of the audio file while highlighting or changing the font color of the word for the reader.

      You need to create a list of timestamps that correspond to when each word is spoken in the audio file. You then need to link that to the text and have it highlight during that timestamp.
      If you are a registered iTunes Connect member, the guidelines will tell you how to do it. See this post from Teleread: http://www.teleread.com/epub/apple-explains-how-to-sync-narration-tracks-in-epub-files-for-ibookstore/
      You can also buy Liz Castro’s miniguide Read Aloud ePUB for iBooks for instuctions. The book will cost you $5. There’s a description and a link on Liz’s blog here: http://www.pigsgourdsandwikis.com/2011/08/new-miniguide-read-aloud-epub-for.html
      Or you can go here for an example of how to do it: https://tofannayak.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/creating-read-aloud-content-epub/

      • Matthew,
        Thanks for the reply. I have all of Liz Castro’s very helpful books and the iBooks Assets guide, etc.. My narration is synced and highlights fine.

        What I am now attempting is for the child who is reading to herself (narration off) to be able to touch a word to hear just that word. I have created individual audio files for each word and have that part working, but would like the word to highlight briefly when touched along with the audio.
        This is fairly standard in book apps and it seems like it should be possible in an iBook, as well. Any further suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Momanna,

      Did you ever get your fixed-layout ibook working triggering sound effects when you select the words? I too am looking at creating a read-aloud epub and trying to do something similar. I’m beginning to think a lot of what I want to do would be better achieved in an app…

      • No, I wasn’t able to do that in epub and have moved on to apps for my picture books.
        I have other books I’d still like to do as read-aloud pubs…but it all takes time.

  4. I’ve watched Anne-Marie’s “Creating a Fixed-Layout ePUB” tutorial and I’m trying to make a fixed layout epub from InDesign and after exporting and unzipping I can’t find the css folder with the style.css file in it. My question is, do I have to manually create this folder and the file or am I doing something wrong while exporting it?
    I’m doing fine till the end of chapter 4 but in chapter 5 the folder just shows up there and I don’t know where it came from!
    I need help!

    • Best way to create Fixed Layout ePub is to use Book Creator from Red Jumper, then customize it after the book is compiled. We just completed our first Read Aloud ePub, adding the voice track after we’d done the book. If you have all your assets, you can create a fully functional ePub in Book Creator in about two hours, load it onto your iPad, and off you go!

      As much as I like inDesign, it just was conceived with Fixed Layout or even ePubs in mind. They’ve been added in, not too gracefully.

    • Which version of InDesign are you using? To generate the style.css file from InDesign CS 5.5, you need to make sure that on the “EPUB Export Options” panel under the “Contents” menu under the “CSS Options” area you click on the button next to “Generate CSS.” You probably also want to check the boxes next to “Include Style Definitions,” “Preserve Local Overrides.” If you intention is to upload the file to Apple, you probably don’t want to check “Include Embeddable Fonts” because Apple doesn’t support the way ID embeds fonts in ePUBs. The CSS file should automatically be placed in the OEBPS file with a .css extension; in will appear with all the content/chapter .xhtml files.

  5. Pingback: Publishing children’s picture books as ebooks: Fixed-layout EPUBs | Jule P Owen

  6. Pingback: EPUB Format For Illustrated Children’s Books | CR4 Fun

  7. If you’re trying to create Fixed Layout EPUBs from InDesign, I have to strongly recommend you use Rorohiko’s script, ePubCrawler.

    It works with CS3 to CS6 and is currently donation-ware, as it’s in beta. But I would suggest a donation of $50 or more because it is that good! And we want Kris (Rorohiko owner) to keep making it great.

    It basically automates just about everything. There are many options you can set before the export (e.g., do you want pixels or ems). It even comes with its own drag-and-drop epub compressor and extractor (to create an epub from a folder and to crack an epub open into a folder). When we create fixed layout epubs for clients in my studio, if they give us an InDesign file, that’s the script I use. It is a NO-BRAINER if InDesign is the source file.

    I reviewed Rorohiko’s ePubCrawler.jsx script and showed how it worked on a client’s supplied InDesign layout (a children’s book she wrote and illustrated) in issue #50 (October 2012) of InDesign Magazine.

    You can download the review (5-page PDF) here:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/3hid7tdmpahzt47/ePubCrawler_review_IDMag50.p df

    Two other solutions to look at for InDesign > FXL epubs are Flipick (http://flipick.com) which I’m testing at the moment, and CircularFlo (http://www.circularsoftware.com) which gets better with every version.

  8. Is there a software that can read epub fixed-layout on windows, because Adobe Digital Editions is obviously meant for reflowable epubs and the fixed-layout epubs looks horrible in it.

  9. Very useful links, and all of them work – which is unusual, and nice. The only problem I have with a lot of the really nice walk-throughs and tutorials though is their reliance on Adobe products, and Word. All of these are now out of the reach financially, so I’m limited to what I can use on the Mac that comes native with it. Pages, iBooks Author, Gimp for images and so on. In other words – free stuff in the main, or at least very low priced, like Apple apps.
    So what I really need, is a tutorial on how to use Pages or iBooks Author – or both, and perhaps even a text editor, to put together fixed format ePubs. WYSIWYG – who needs to spend a week messing with arcane code, when all I want to do is write and publish my books.
    However – great articles, and very helpful for all that.

    • Since ebooks are just web pages in a given formatted package, you really don’t need any expensive software at all. None of my tutorials require anything that isn’t free. But if you really want to produce professional (i.e. commercial) results, you’ll need to dig into the code, at least for your metadata. Just save your text file as HTML and edit in Sigil or a text editor.

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