Annoyance across platforms

I’ve started building my novel using Adobe InDesign. I learned to use InDesign in school, working for my college’s award-winning newspaper The Metropolitan. We used it to build our pdf’s for publication, it’s a great tool.

The workflow, which I am learning as I go along, is a bit tedious but there are useful shortcuts that are quite helpful. I learned that every chapter has to be saved as a separate file, then once placed in the separate InDesign files they can all be imported into a book. It’s great actually once you get all the work done the files are easy to edit, it runs quickly because the files are still small, but the export to one document is seamless.

Seamless yes. Without issue…not so much. Epub is the future of ebook publishing, so they say. InDesign exports to epub files so a completed manuscript is really simple to build and export. The problem is the translation. This is what one of the title page mockups looks like in the InDesign software:

©2010 Jenn LeBlanc

©2010 Jenn LeBlanc

When you export an InDesign file to a pdf it is really a literal translation of the mockup from InDesign:

©2010 Jenn LeBlanc

©2010 Jenn LeBlanc

So logically when you export to an epub, you might expect the same result:

©2010 Jenn LeBlanc

©2010 Jenn LeBlanc

uh…er…um..huh?

Because epub files have special properties like the ability to resize the text on an ebook reader and highlighting text, and some other stuff I have never done the files don’t export as perfectly as they do to pdf. These special features, as well as the fact that an epub file is a zip file so it can be saved in an ebook reader and not take up much space, serve to scramble the information from the original file. I have read some fixes to the issue including opening the zipped file and reordering the information by hand and anchoring images to text. These things are great, but on a title page there really isn’t text to anchor to, not to mention the fact that the image is being resized in what looks to me like an arbitrary manner.

Another thing the epub file is doing is changing the color space from the original image as it is exported. The difference from the pdf to the epub (for me) is glaring and unacceptable, not to mention frustrating.

At any rate, I am spending time learning all the sweet little intricacies of epub exporting and becoming quite frustrated that for whatever reason, epub exporting is not a direct and simple export like pdf exporting is. My question is why. Why should an epub export be ridiculous like this? Why wouldn’t it export to look like the designed page? If there is a fix for it why isn’t it built in to the export? I’m pretty sure nobody is going to use the epub without fixing it. I certainly can’t, it isn’t even readable. But why should you have to go back and redo what you already did?

I imagine as ebooks get more popular that Adobe will make it more seamless, simple, reasonable, inherent, how many other terms are there for what this is not…so very many.

Frankly, it makes me wont to export directly to pdf and forget epub altogether. I have already planned to edit several versions of the novel for different platforms, iPad, Sony Reader, Kindle, Nook, computer screen. I supposed I can offer the fully functional, and prettty, pdf file, or the weird, awkward and crappy looking epub. It would really defeat the purpose of spending all this time on an enhanced ebook.

If you have any awesome tips for exporting to epub leave it in the comments! Thanks.

The script used in the title mockup here is the King and Queen font.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Annoyance across platforms”
  1. Shannon says:

    If I am not mistaken Adobe is addressing this in CS5. Hopefully it will help with the ebook issue, cause that is just stupid! http://cs5.org/?p=862#more-862

    • Jenn says:

      That will be fantastic, the unzipping and rearranging and recompressing and whatnot seems a bit ridiculous, and like something that should be done for you. If you lay the page out properly to begin with. Thanks!

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