Monday, July 19, 2010

EPUB Straight to the Point - EPUB Format Available Now!

I am so happy to announce that the EPUB version of my book about EPUB, titled EPUB Straight to the Point: Creating ebooks for the Apple iPad and other ereaders is available right now. I've created a new section of my website that gives a synopsis, an excerpt to show you what it looks like, shows the final table of contents, and lets you browse the complete index (which is live in the EPUB version), as well as buy the EPUB version of the book right away (facilitated by Kagi).

I will only be selling the electronic version from my website. If you'd like to wait for the print edition—which should be in bookstores by the end of the month, you can preorder the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or my publisher, Peachpit Press.

This is the first time I've ever sold my own books from my own website, and I'm both excited and nervous. Please let me know if you have any trouble with the Kagi site, or with my end of it, and if there's anything I can do to make the process easier.

Note that the EPUB version of my book has no DRM. You can read it in any ereader that supports EPUB.


  1. congratulations, Liz!

  2. Congrats and thanks for the timely tips as I am finishing my first EPUB convrsion for the IBooks store. Down to a couple blank pages when held vertically that I may just give up on.

    Your remarks on CMYK conversion are right on too. Luckily, I kept a folder with the RGBs. Most of my images after resizing also needed a different level of sharpening, was never so glad I used smart filters in Photoshop as today.

    Looking forward to my (paper) copy. Ironic, but I like to have it open on the desk while I work, and the next project (175 images and 30,000 words) is going to be tough as it is.

  3. First, congratulations. Second, in browsing the TOC I see you suggest two options for initial layout: Word and InDesign. I haven't bought the book yet, but do you explain the pros and cons of each?

    I'm hoping that "size," under "working with images" clears up the question of what's the correct dpi to import in order to get good quality, full-page sized images. I noticed that the latest version of iBooks allows double-tapping to get full size, but the quality of image degrades considerably. Does one provide two sizes? One for double-tap, one for standard?

    Looking forward to digging in to the book.

  4. I had no problem with Kagi, and I am enjoying reading it in ePub version, my Hard Copy from Amazon is delayed a couple of days. So it is great to get a head start.
    Thanks for all your hard work

  5. My first purchased eBook! While it didn't explain 100% of my EPUB wonderings, it is the single best resource I've found so far. Along with the well written content, the eBook construction itself provides a great illustration of what can be presented on the eBook screen-page.
    Nice work!

  6. Hi David:
    Thanks for your nice comments. So glad you've found the book useful. And I'd love to hear which things you were looking for but didn't find.

  7. Liz, I have read the entire book through Calibre (I intend to convert projects to Kindle as well as other readers.) I was so glad to have some in-depth help with this. I am a print designer, but not very "techy", so figuring out what to do on my own was been horrendous. I'm an InDesign user, but I have not used all of its functions, so the step-by-step instruction so far is great.

    All of the conversion info I could find online was for InDesign CS3 or CS4. I have CS5 but had no luck finding out what exactly I needed to do for the CS5 version.

    What I am attempting to do is to convert an existing magazine publication that I am the designer of and make it ready to use on Kindle and other readers. There are several issues I'm trying to deal with right now that are not in the book, so perhaps you have some suggestions.

    First, you explain what size to make the full-size photos or illustrations (600 x 860 pixels) however, you do not explain what size to make the InDesign document itself. Is there a standard? does it matter? Terry White from Adobe did a short video on doing an epub from InDesign, and suggested a half page size—5.5in x 8.5in. But, he does not explain why. So, what size should I make this from the original 8.5 x 11 publication

    My other problem is that since this is a magazine I'm converting, the graphic treatments to the beginning of articles are rather important. The design of each article in the magazine usually incorporates the name of the article and the imagery or graphic. I would like to make a full-page image out of these type of graphics, or a half-page heading with a smaller text header and article text to follow.

    The problem comes in because, on the page where I want a full-page image, I would like the article to start there, but then that would ruin the Navigational TOC since it is a graphic and not a header. Is there any way to deal with making the TOC work and have the article start on the image? Using the information and directions from your book to convert a regular book to epub appears to work great, but I'm finding that it is not solving some of the magazine conversion problems.

    Thanks for a good read and thorough instruction with this new book, and I hope there are a few pointers for my questions. My next step is to work with the files you provide for a practice run, and then do the conversion on my magazine publication.

  8. Okay, I am looking at your files of the Walden book and I need some clarification. Your original InDesign files document set up is 7.5 inches by 9.5 inches with a one inch margin all sides, which leaves the text box to be 5.5 inches by 7.5 inches. I want to put a full-size image to fill a page with an article to follow. The "magic" image size you recommend is 600 px by 860 px. That is quite a bit larger than the page size here. Should I just go ahead and place the image and leave the image conversion box for "Formatted" UNchecked when I export the EPUB? that way it keeps the original size of the image?

  9. Hi Lisa:
    I made a text box of 5.5 x 7.5 for the Walden book to give a very rough idea of what it would look like on the iPad. Of course, you never know where a reader will read an ebook... it might be the iPad or it might be a nook or iPhone or even on the desktop.

    I almost always uncheck the "Formatted" box and instead control the original size of my images with Photoshop. That way I know what the max size will be and don't have to figure out the calculations that InDesign will have put my image through (the physical size times 72dpi).

  10. Hi, Liz:

    I have your book--Straight to the Point--and it's great, thanks. It's a little slanted toward InDesign, but that's understandable. (I think I should have loved a section on indices & x-refs strictly from an epub viewpoint *without* InDesign's assistance, though--we just did one and it took a short lifetime that felt like a long one!).

    HOWEVER: in STTP, you discuss borders & backgrounds. We've had no difficulty in getting a sidebar or central-bar to work with a colored background, but we've had ZERO success getting it to work, on the iPad/iBooks, with any type of image as a background. Everything we've tried has worked in every other reader/previewer: Lucidor, FF's EPUBReader, etc.--but not on the iPad itself in the iBooks app. We're at the point of thinking we'll have to shoot the backgrounded-pages as images and just plant them as jpegs, but we'd prefer not to if possible (mostly for accessibility issues--although we've had success with alt tags for that when push comes to shove).

    I know you've posted often that iBooks 1.1 has "broken" a lot of CSS; but if you have any insight into this, that would be GREAT.


    I produce eBooks

  11. Back again!

    I'd like to iterate how much I really love "EPUBS:STTP," I use it daily. It's my new Epub-bible.

    BUT, having said that: the epub-to-mobi conversion via KindleGen isn't as simple as just dragging a hand-created (or Sigil--whatever epub editor one uses) epub onto KindleGen. If you do, using epubs with classic toc.ncx and opf, the resulting .mobi will not have an active TOC. With Amazon's latest standards requiring active TOC's, and its rejection of Smashwords content (partly due to no TOC's), it would be great if a conversion tool actually existed that could bridge the gap. I do a variety of things and end up with handsome files of both varieties; but the workarounds are all cumbersome, and mostly due to Amazon's *slightly different* conventions.

    Just a nota bene for other ebook producers out there.


  12. Does Calibre work to do the conversion?

  13. Hi Liz. Very well done. Congratulations. Just beginning to read the book on my iPad. Only wondering one thing: You say EPUB is not supported by Kindle, right? But I am READING it via Amazons Kindle Reader! (The german iBook Store is not offering your book.) ???

  14. Hey Jochen:

    You must be reading the Kindle version of my EPUB book! (It does exist.) Because Amazon does not (yet) support EPUB directly.

    You can convert EPUB to Kindle format—and it works pretty well, a friend showed me how my Calibre-converted book looked the other day—but it's not automatic.

  15. Thanks, Liz Where I can find your book in EPUB format? Woukd like to compare.

  16. Jochen, I sell the EPUB version right on my website:

    Let me know what you think!

  17. Liz,
    thanks. I bought it again. Please see my mail to elizabethcastro at

  18. Hi Liz,

    Would it be possible to embed the video in the Fixed Layout ePub. If yes, how?



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