Holding out for an ePub hero
Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:05 AM
Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:07 AM
Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:39 AM
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.
Senior Director for External Projects
and Assistant to the Director, Digital Innovation Group @ Georgia College
Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:43 AM
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.
Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:48 AM
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.
Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:55 AM
Posted 21 January 2012 - 08:58 AM
Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:03 AM
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,,,)
Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:03 AM
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.
Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:17 AM
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.