Wednesday, December 7, 2011

iBooks 1.5 increases page size by about 15%

Apple released version 1.5 of their iBooks ereader app last night. The biggest improvement to iBooks 1.5 is undoubtedly the new Full Screen mode. To access it, click the Font menu, and then click Theme in the pop-up menu. Then turn on Full Screen at the bottom of the extended menu.

Theme menu FullScreen

Full Screen mode hides the faux pages, the faux spine, the space between those faux pages and the edge of the screen, etc. and increases the size of the page about 15%.

Here's what my upcoming book on InDesign CS 5.5 to EPUB and Kindle looks like with and without the chrome in vertical orientation:

Before Vertical After iBooks 1.5

Notice that there's hardly any difference vertically. Though you can see the line endings change ever so slightly, I couldn't measure any difference. The old page measured 560px wide by 760px, and the new page measures 560px by 850px high.

And here's what the horizontal two-page view looks like now, with chrome:


and without:


Of course, the pages reflow when you go from Full Screen to Normal view, and so it's hard to compare two pages that are exactly the same. In my test, my book takes up 205 pages in normal view and only 178 in Full Screen, a difference of about 15%.

With chrome, a small page (in horizontal view) measures 400px by 540px high. In Full Screen mode, the page now measures 410px by 600px.

iBooks also removed three existing fonts—Baskerville, Cochin, and Verdana—and replaced them with new ones with curious, or at least lesser known names: Athelas, Charter, Iowan, and Seravek. I wonder if this is a licensing thing? Here's what they look like:









They've also changed the highlighting system slightly, and added a Night-reading theme which darkens the background so it's easier on your eyes and your sleeping companions. Indeed, it not only darkens the background, it eliminates it completely. Watch out if you have any images with white backgrounds, the white will stand out:

Night mode with non-transparent images

That will have to be fixed! (I'm hoping to get From InDesign CS 5.5 to EPUB and Kindle out the door today or tomorrow... more details soon.)


  1. Hi Liz,

    How do you see full-screen mode affecting use of "magic" images (i.e. 600x860)?

  2. "Reading System" is working... Reading system detect javascript ... And all CSS3 animations working (without javascript)

  3. For me the new fonts are a big improvement, Charter in particular looks nice on the low-res iPad screen. That and the full-screen mode have wooed me back from Bluefire Reader.

  4. Apparently the full-screen mode is iPad-only. I updated my iPhone to iBooks 1.5 and the setting is nowhere to be found, either under Themes where you describe it or in the Settings app.

  5. @Wangden, when I view books on iPhone with iBooks 1.5, in vertical mode, there is only a tiny bit of space lost to faux pages. When I view horizontally, there is no chrome—that is, it's automatically set to "Full Screen" mode.

  6. It seems fonts were not removed: my picture books use Baskerville and they are still OK (I didn't include the font inside the book). These fonts are just no more a choice in the list just for the reader. But they can still be used inside the book.
    Or am I wrong?

  7. @halokin Sorry, I was imprecise. The fonts were removed from the menu, I had not tested whether they were removed from the device itself and am glad to hear your report that they are still available. I will test. I wonder if other fonts have been added.

  8. The "Original" option in the fonts menu suggests that iBooks can now display epubs with embedded custom fonts. Which would be great.

  9. @POost: Indeed. See here:

  10. Saw this post via your RSS, thanks for letting me know! I installed the new version of iBooks (1.5) and now some of my images are being stretched vertically. This appears to only be happening on the two page view and not the one page vertical view. My handwriting font that I included with the ebook is missing entirely. Geeesh!

  11. Thank you Liz, I read elsewhere they were removed too. I was afraid it was true. I would appreciate a confirmation, but I really think using these fonts is still OK, which is great. Do you think there are other "hidden" new fonts?

  12. @Richard : The stretched images are worrying! And frustrating! I see just what you mean.

    I'm not sure why your font is not displaying. I just opened a book of my own with embedded font and it's still displaying fine. I can share it with you if you want to compare code to see what's different.

  13. Just notice another glitch that wasn't there before: in my read aloud books, when I turn pages, some pages on the right are OK and then suddenly blank before they display the picture back to normal again. Not all right pages do that, but those who do, do it every time. I was all OK before the update...

  14. Sorry to post right back: I have found on which pages there is a problem: with no answer though: the pages that turn blank and then back to normal are the pages with no narrator voice. There was no problem before with the same read aloud book...

  15. A generous and timely post. I'll be teaching an InDesign CS5.5 to ePub class tomorrow and it looks like there will be a title to recommend to my students for reference. Fantastic!

  16. I am writing my autobiography on my MacBook Pro in Scrivener, then compiling it as an ePub to read on my iPad in iBooks. I have a number of images that were good, but in the latest version of iBooks many are elongated. I am having trouble fixing that. I adjust the size in Photoshop but can not seem to find a common size to work. They are OK in upright view, but not in landscape. Looked at your comments on image size for epubs but I could not understand it, an old man!

  17. Hi Liz,

    Please write a mini guide to Mobi/Kindle, to show how tables of contents, etc. work.


  18. Great update, I've update to Ibook 1.5 to see how if effects our pubs for the Forest Service. I look forward to your From InDesign CSS 5.5 to EPUB and Kindle guild.

  19. ...and, please include likely causes of error messages such as "Hyperlink not resolved..."


  20. Great post Liz! As always. I would definitely like to se this update on the iPhone...

  21. Hi Liz,

    I'm having the same problem as Richard with both images and fonts not displaying. I've also done side-by-side comparisons of all the files with example epub files from your site, and I can't see anything different. If you'd be willing to look at my file to see if I missed something, I'd appreciate it:


  22. Another improvement in annotations on iBooks 1.5 is that in the notes overview you can actually see the start of what you have highlighted (Until now it took the start of paragraph).
    Maybe in iBooks 2.0 we reach the point where you can se all the highlighted text in notes overview, and actually i apple to export it. But nice fonts. I especially likes Athelas.

  23. iBooks 1.5 also seems to have completely fixed previous issues with centering text. Workarounds are no longer needed.

  24. I have an image heavy book of mostly a cartoon a page. With the new ios it inserts a blank page between each image. Full screen works well though it still stretches an an image. I've resized the images to the new page size but the problem is still there. Tried your page break CSS codes and no luck either. Switching over to using IDCS5.5 to make books now hoping there will be a solution there.

  25. Hey all.

    First of all let me say that this is a wonderfull blog and I've been following all the great tips shared here. Thanks, Liz!

    I would like to share with / ask you all if have already faced an issue like one that I am facing right now with all of our ebooks. I work to a small book publishing company in Portugal and we are now in the process of analyzing the Apple store. We have some iPads with iOS 5 and iBooks 1.5 and, after the last iBooks update, all our eBooks went "crazy". Let me explain.

    We use an embedded font in all our eBooks, its our collection perk. We where happy when we first knew of the iBooks support to that possibility and everything went well for a while, using Liz's tips in her book. But now the new app is misconfiguring the eBook while reading, duplicating pages, creating 2, 3 or more blanks pages between chapters, jumping text back and forward while reading! When we first saw it in one of our eBooks, we thought that we might had some duplicate content and extra blank pages by mistake! But now we are seeing that this is happening to all our eBooks! And on other readers (Digital Editions, calibre, etc) everything is working ok! Also, tt only happens when we use an embedded font. We've tried reducing the amount of formatting applied (line-height, font-size, font-weight, etc), but nothing works! Do know of such and issue? Have you ever saw something like this?


  26. Hallelujah! The new ibooks update has solved our problems! All my books work fine and display as they should. I started working in InDesign to fix the problem but even though it has been rectified I intend to continue using ID. It is the best for epub design, which of course Liz knew already. Happy epubbin'!

  27. Hi,
    How to display the ipad keyboard in epub.
    Tried, using input tag,etc
    Can u help me....


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