From InDesign CS5.5 to ePUB & Kindle by Elizabeth Castro: A Review
This week, Elizabeth Castro released a new ePUB miniguide, From InDesign CS5.5 to ePUB and Kindle. This is the fourth miniguide that Castro has done that builds on her first ePUB instructional manual, ePUB: Straight to the Point. From InDesign CS5.5 to ePUB and Kindle highlights the improvements that Adobe has delivered with InDesign CS5.5 in the area of ePUB export and creation.
In the Introduction to this book, Castro points out two things. First, while there are many tools for creating print books and for creating eBooks, “There is only one, however, that is useful for creating both professional-quality print books and ebooks. That program, of course, is Adobe InDesign.” Second, “This is not a beginner’s guide to InDesign or ebook creation. Instead, I’ll be explaining how to get the most out of the new features that have been recently added to CS 5.5 that have to do with creating EPUB format ebooks.” There are other ways to create ePUBs, but if you are creating print and ePUBs and are using InDesign, this book will be useful to you. If this is all new to you, you would be better served starting with ePUB: Straight to the Point then following it up with this new work.
In this miniguide, Castro points out the improvements that Adobe has made in the InDesign to ePUB conversion with CS5.5 and how best to take advantage of these improvements. She begins with “InDesign to eBook in 10 Steps,” a list that might help you design a good workflow, and follows with a quick overview of what you can do in InDesign for print and whether it is possible in ePUB. If you are currently working with InDesign and ePUB creation, nothing here is going to come as a surprise to you.
Next, Castro walks the reader through the creation of a book in InDesign with a focus on steps you can take to make the conversion to ePUB easier and better. She explains how creating a sample chapter with all the styles you are using in the book—something you may already be doing as part of your initial print design approval process—can also serve as an InDesign Template that will help you create the CSS for your ePUB. As she writes, “Styles are the key to formatting both print and eBooks in InDesign,” and she gives plenty of tips on how the handle them well.
Creating a cover for ePUBs has not been easy in previous versions of InDesign, but CS5.5 has improved the process immensely. Castro shows a couple different options on how to create a good cover and walks readers through the proper dialog box settings.
Readers will find the section “Placing Images and Controlling Export Order” very useful if they include images in their print books or have complex designs that include many small text frames. She covers using inline objects, custom positioned anchored objects, and the new Articles panel. All three have their uses, and Castro does a good job explaining when each would work best.
InDesign CS5.5 now allows users to place and export audio and video files into an ePUB. Castro explains how this works and how to place media so that they will play properly.
Previous versions of InDesign did not properly generate links in multi-document ePUBs. InDesign CS5.5 now can correctly create these links. The instructions for creating hyperlinks, cross references, and footnotes in InDesign so they export correctly to ePUB should be a time-saver for anyone who has had to clean up these links in the past.
Castro includes a section on creating both the navigational TOC and an HTML TOC. In previous versions of InDesign, the HTML TOC would actually disappear upon export, so it is helpful to have instructions on how to create this file now that the bug has been corrected.
Probably the most valuable part of this miniguide is the “Exporting to ePUB” walk through. Castro does a wonderful job explaining the proper settings in the EPUB Export Options dialog box based on the material covered earlier in the guide and the choices the user made. Following her instructions, a user should be able to create an ePUB with good CSS that handles all styles and images as expected.
After “Exporting to ePUB,” there is a a list of reasons why you might need to crack open an ePUB for additional changes and how to do so, along with instructions for converting ePUBs to Kindle/mobi format, including changes you may need to make to the ePUB file before conversion. Both will be helpful to readers as they clean up their ePUBs and use them as the basis for Kindle editions.
Finally, Castro includes a section on how to properly embed fonts in ePUBs going to iBooks since Apple does not support the way that InDesign encrypts embedded fonts.
The book is illustrated throughout with examples of files, how files display, and screen captures of dialog boxes. These serve as great examples of what is being discussed in the text and make it easy to follow Castro’s instructions. The book ends with a fully linked index.
If you are struggling to produce clean ePUB files from InDesign CS5.5, this book should help you make the adjustments you need to improve your workflow. If you haven’t updated to ID CS5.5 and are still wondering why you should, this book will make the reasons clear. If you need to give your boss a reason to update to CS5.5, read this book and you will have all the reasons you need. If you create ePUBs and have any money left in your book budget, do yourself a favor and spend it on this guide.
Castro makes all these eBooks available in ePUB, Mobi, and PDF, each completely DRM free. This means you can actually “crack these ePUBs” and take a look at the files that make up her books. This will allow you to see everything she does to make her ePUBs appear the way they do.
From InDesign CS5.5 to ePUB and Kindle is available from Amazon as a Kindle edition for $9.99 and will soon be available as a print edition from Amazon. It is also available as an ePUB through iTunes/iBooks for $9.99
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This is an excellent little book that brings together many useful bits of information.
Worthy of being on the bookshelf.
I am disappointed. I thought that this book would cover the Kindlegen8 plugin for InDesign based on the title of the book. It doesn’t; converting to mobi is accomplished the old way of use Amazon’s Kindlegen program. Since the plugin is still in beta, I guess I can forgive you. 😉
I trust there are some other good tips in it. I haven’t read much yet.
Mary, I’m sorry the book did not meet your needs. While I have not done extensive testing with the InDesign to Kindle8 plugin personally, most ePUB producers I am in contact with do not use the plugin. They prefer to use KindleGen/KindlePreviewer to convert ePUB to Kindle. Often, the ePUB needs some tweaking before conversion to Mobi, especially in the CSS.
I am looking for a good support article online. If I find one, I will let you know.
In the past I have manually created my epubs; I haven’t liked any of the conversion tools. Recently, I started using InDesign to format books for print. When I discovered the Kindle plugin I thought, “Fantastic! I can create one version and get the mobi and PDF for the printer at the same time.”
The book is excellent, to-the-point and detailed. Trouble is, why do I have to pay to upgrade all of my Design Premium CS5 when all I want and need is InDesign 5.5? Adobe’s pricing policy really is aggressive and an abuse of its scarcity value. If they’d have a fair up-grade path, they’d have my money by now and we’d all be happy. Instead, I have to learn to crack ePub files (and thanks to Castro’s work it’s worth trying).
Tom, you might want to contact Adobe customer service and see if you can update InDesign separately from the entire Creative Suite. My experience is that their customer service is helpful and wants to keep customers happy. As for cracking ePUB files, I think it is a good thing to understand how to open/unzip and rezip ePUBs if you are working with them for publication. There always seem to be changes that need to be made by hand. The more comfortable you are working in a text editor and making changes, the easier this will be for you.
I’ve been upset with Adobe for their high prices for quite a while. Not too long after wishing they made their products more affordable, they started a subcription service. As I understand it, with a subscription you can use InDesign CS5.5 for $35 per month annually or $49 per month monthly and you can stop the subcription at any time. Right on, Adobe!!
A most helpful InDesign article. CS6 is awesome, so these would be great tips to use when editing PDF content in InDesign, after I convert a PDF to CS6. Thank you, Claudia, for being so informative!