Check out the Creatavist Documentation for Great Ebook Resources

  • Sumo

Full Disclosure: I work on Creatavist, a for-profit product run by the makers of The Atavist. Initally I was hesitant to write this post but others in the community have found the docs a helpful resource and have encouraged me to mention it here.

Creatavist is, like a few other products out there in the publishing world, a Create Once Publish Everywhere (COPE) tool. It’s from the Atavist (a team I’m a part of). If you’re interested in publishing books or longform content on the web, apps, and as ebooks it might interest you. I’ll leave that as the sole sales pitch :).

As a part of Creatavist, we have built documentation for our community of story creators. One of the big pieces I’ve worked on since joining the team is our ebook documentation. While some parts of this documentation deal specifically with how Creatavist manages ebooks, there’s a large section that is platform-agnostic and would be beneficial for all ebook creators.

Note: None of this will ever be complete, and I recommend using this as a best-guess guide, not as the gospel truth. Also see my note at the end asking (begging) for help in finding errors.

HTML Support

While a few retailers do document what they do and do not support, its not always right (Amazon!) or exhaustive. As a part of developing the Creatavist ebook outputs I ran into a lot of HTML support issues. I never found a very good resource in one place for all devices or retailers, so I started documenting it myself and made it available on the Creatavist Ebook HTML Support docs page. Maybe you never knew Kindles don’t support the abbr tag (I didn’t), but you could find it out now by looking at this support page.

I also list image format and special character support at the bottom of the page. These are again things I’ve run into that I think others in the ebook world might like to know about.

CSS Support

Just like HTML, I found it frustrating not knowing what CSS was supported by what device. So as I go through each project I document what I find does or doesn’t work. You can check out my findings here. I also provide some helpful hints on getting around annoying device-specific issues at the bottom of the page (many of these workarounds found their way into Creatavist for our community of creators)..

Additional Documentation

As a part of the process of developing my own books on Creatavist, I’ve found a need to document a couple other things for myself and Creatavist community members.

We help storytellers make their ebook files, but they need to upload the files to retailers themselves, so we added a handy guide of some retailer specs for them here.

Deciphering what font formats are supported where drove me nuts, so I made a test file and documented my results here.

Can’t ever remember what Amazon devices support KF8? Me either, so I put them here.

Asking for Help

You might notice a lot of empty boxes or answers with questions marks in them. That’s because I either didn’t remember to note my findings or wasn’t convinced by the answer I got. So if you see something I got wrong or something I’m missing, I would sincerely appreciate a note saying so. I’ll update it accordingly. The documentation here isn’t just for Creatavist users—I’d love to see everyone find them useful whether you use our product or not.


6 Responses to “Check out the Creatavist Documentation for Great Ebook Resources”

  1. Rob Siders says:

    There’s only loose support for OpenType fonts in Kindle eink devices that support KF8. The primary issue with OpenType and Kindle einks is the method in which the foundry created the font’s outlines. If it used PostScript outlines—and that’s almost always the case with OpenType fonts—then Amazon turns off the publisher font setting when the ebook is delivered to the device. It can be turned on, but the default view is off. It can also occur with TrueType fonts with PostScript outlines… usually with display fonts.

    In most cases it works out on the Kindle einks. But sometimes… not so much. I made a series for a client early in 2013 and the font crashed the ebooks. The unfortunate part is that you’ll never catch it sideloading because Amazon makes the change after intake. Upload to a test account and download the output… then sideload the ebook. If the eink Kindle shuts off the font—or worse—then you need to find another font or convert what you’ve got to TrueType with TrueType outlines.

  2. Derrick Schultz says:

    Rob, this is great comment. (also terrible news to hear!) Is this documented anywhere public? Not saying you’re incorrect 🙂 but a public mention of it would be good to link to in the docs.

  3. Paul says:

    Derrick, this has more to do with the Creativist website than your article. The website is almost completely opaque. It says nothing about what to upload, what you’ll get back, etc., etc.. Is there no available explanation of what this is all about?

  4. Derrick Schultz says:

    Hey Paul,
    Creatavist acts as a CMS for your stories or books. You input the text (it can also import a variety of formats including EPUBs), add any media assets you have, can customize styles (or use default templates), and can then generate ebooks for various devices, as well as publish to the web and Android and iOS apps. If you’re familiar with Pressbooks, its similar to that except it emphasizes multimedia content a bit more.

  5. Rob Siders says:

    It’s kinda sorta documented in the spec for KDP, section 3.11. It says that Type 1 PostScript fonts aren’t supported, but my experience shows that it’s much more than that.

    I’ve used OpenType fonts with Type 2 PostScript and had them throw Kindlegen warnings and shut off pub fonts in eink Kindles post-intake. No mention of Type 2 in the spec. Just recently, I had the same thing happen to a TrueType font (which I found odd) and Kindlegen didn’t throw a warning.

    So it seems a TrueType or OpenType font that uses any PostScript outlines will shut off pub fonts in eink Kindles post-intake. The kicker is that almost all OpenType fonts use PostScript outlines. It’s rare in TrueType, but if you’re using a display TT font from a major-ish or better foundry it might be safe to assume it’s using PS outlines (PS affords better scalability for printing at large sizes).

    Since we discovered the OT issue last year, our work flow converts all OT fonts to TT. Now we’re taking a closer look at TT fonts to avoid any issues there, as well.

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