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Holding out for an ePub hero

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:01 AM

Post your comments for Holding out for an ePub hero here
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#2 User is offline   Photonerd 

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  Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:05 AM

Agree with most of the key points here. Macworld is hitting a home-run with its coverage on this issue. Great to see some real substance / constructive criticism of a major event / push by Apple and not just party line. The iBooks ecosystem will become a very important one but right now it's badly flawed IMO and the reason is that in their constant push for secrecy, Apple didn't show this to enough authors in advance to find out how they really work with EPUB and what they need from an authoring tool. This tool has so far been designed mostly with Apple in mind, not with authors' needs in mind (other than the speed factor and the store integration factor).
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#3 User is offline   zekegri 

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  Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:07 AM

You are spot on and it is amazing that the publishing industry of all people have not gotten this and embraced a development of a Flash type interface for building interactivity with layers and buttons and actions that have simple functions. Start with that at least is it that difficult to have an HTML5 WYSIWIG interface for designers-come on! We are waiting and so is the reading audience!
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#4 User is offline   Billujk9 

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  Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:31 AM

Nice post. I'm pleased and surprised to see Macworld story that's more analytical--and, yes, even critical of Apple--rather than the usual a**-kissing fodder.
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#5 User is offline   flowney 

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  Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:39 AM

To be fair, I think that we have to recognize the fact that EPUB version 3 was released only last October. The previous version (2.1) allowed only linear text and static graphics. To date, there are no EPUB 3 eReaders, let alone any EPUB 3 creation tools. Maybe Adobe and others are hard at work on developing EPUB 3 tools. I don't know.

The other thing about the EPUB 3 standard is that it was designed to be extensible. That Apple is ahead of the field should surprise no one. With time, I think we;ll see hardware and software eReaders that are EPUB 3 compliant and those that go beyond the standard as Apple has done. We should also eventually see authoring and publishing software that does likewise.

Quite frankly, I'm happy to see Apple push the envelope in this case. Without that push, digital authoring and publishing would be incredibly boring.
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#6 User is offline   dreyfus 

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  Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:43 AM

"... you have only a few options: You can export your ePub from any number of other programs and hope it’ll still look relatively the same as your original layout (not likely);"

Here lies the problem. ePub is not a layout-preserving format by design (and the ePub3 documentation clearly and repetitively says so). It is designed to re-flow text to any possible screen resolution and size. If you want to bring complex layouts in a well-designed manner to a device, you need to know the devices resolution, the features and the input methods it supports. That is exactly what Apple did. They created a format that can do just that for the iPad, as such a format does not exist elsewhere. Flash is dead on mobile devices, PDF can't do it, and HTML5 can't do it yet either – maybe it could do it, but there are no capable tools for it. iBooks Author is not an ePub editor, if it would be a standard compatible ePub editor, it would not create the gorgeous output it was designed for.

One can easily create a standards-compliant ePub 2 document in Pages (and distribute it freely on any platform) and then re-use the same document to make a more souped-up iBooks 2 document, by editing it in iBooks Author. It is not a perfect workflow, but it is the best available. I have been publishing our companies standard operating procedures using Pages to ePub since Pages got that export feature. Now I can use the very same documents to make iBook versions with galleries, glossaries, video content and even interactive tests and all people need to import them is the free iTunes. A complete solution with stunning results, total cost: $20 for Pages. Beat that.
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#7 User is offline   cseeman 

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  Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:48 AM

I think the root of it (root of iBooks Author) is that Apple wants to lock you in to using iBookstore for selling. The software is free, they make money on the sale "on the back end." I'm not sure if Apple would have a motive to change this.

Perhaps if there were a paid open version but the amount charged would have to make up for "lost" revenue as publishers choose to sell elsewhere. Maybe that'll happen in the future. I suspect right now Apple wants to build the value proposition of the iBookstore.

I don't doubt Apple supports ePub to get more books into the iBookstore. With their own authoring tool, they want to lock you into it. I suspect this makes sense from their business perspective.

If it's that much easier than other routes and if the iBookstore is profitable enough for authors/publishers . . . and if they don't censor (block) content. It may well be the right thing for Apple to do.
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#8 User is offline   jonro 

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  Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:55 AM

Other commenters have made cogent remarks regarding workflow and EPUB exports. Apple does give you the option of exporting to PDF or to text; an author is not being locked into the iBookstore. Perhaps there will be more options once the eBook market for textbooks evolves and matures.
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#9 User is offline   liqardliquer 

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  Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:58 AM

The complaint department is on the third floor, said the 7-11 store clerk. (one story building) Is there software out there that is as good as ibooks author at any price. You yourself say NO. If the other venders of ebooks want great software, let then build it. Apple is doing its share and more. I did one chapter of my wifes book yesterday in about 20 minutes and it looks so much better than in the Pages/epub format I was amazed. Thhis makes a book look GOOD and the rest like pulp rags. Stop compaining will you? Wish list my butt.
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#10 User is offline   WarrenS 

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  Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:03 AM

I know most everyone has sat through a power point presentation. I remember my first and thought wow this could help teachers. We all know the rest of the story about power point.
I hope the ease of using templates and formatting for pages in "Author" do not become the power point presentations of ebooks. (and yes I know I did not capitalize power point,,,)
Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.
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#11 User is offline   John 

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  Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:03 AM

>>you can’t edit ePubs directly; unlike programs such as Scrivener, Pages, and InDesign,<<

The author is obviously used to word processor documents. You send out a Word doc and you can edit it in Word. Documents created by publishing applications such as InDesign are not distributed in InDesign format, and for quite a few hugely obvious reasons. They are output for print and for PDF distribution. Frankly, the idea of including an engine is like including a car with every delivery pizza. The product is intended for consumption by the public, not editing by the public.
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#12 User is offline   John 

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:04 AM

View PostPhotonerd, on 21 January 2012 - 08:05 AM, said:

Apple didn't show this to enough authors in advance to find out how they really work....


This is SOP with all application development at Apple. Rather arrogant, IMHO.
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#13 User is offline   John 

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:08 AM

View Postjonro, on 21 January 2012 - 08:55 AM, said:

Apple does give you the option of exporting to PDF or to text


...which is what Pages is for... Outputting in PDF format totally removes all of the key features of the app.
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#14 User is offline   Jason Snell 

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:17 AM

View Postdreyfus, on 21 January 2012 - 08:43 AM, said:

One can easily create a standards-compliant ePub 2 document in Pages (and distribute it freely on any platform) and then re-use the same document to make a more souped-up iBooks 2 document, by editing it in iBooks Author. It is not a perfect workflow... A complete solution with stunning results, total cost: $20 for Pages. Beat that.


With all due respect, as a publisher of eBooks we have used Pages as the basis for several of our books. It gets the ball maybe 80 percent of the way down the field, but we are still forced to go into the ePub file and edit it manually in order to get the best output. For certain cases Pages may be all you need, but in my opinion for professional use it just doesn't cut it.

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