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Best practice workflow for PDF + EPUB?

Community Beginner ,
Oct 11, 2023 Oct 11, 2023

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Hi All, 

 

I am new to InDesign and I have been struggling to figure out a way to efficiently set up a workflow to have Epub + Print versions of my book.  I am 100% certain others have to do this, so I am hoping someone can point me in the right direction of what to read/watch to get up to speed on the correct workflow. 

It seems as though, based on what I have read in tutorials so far, there is no way to get around having two versions of a book - so the same content is in two files, one for PDF and one for EPUB.   I am using an Indesign book file with many documents.  My book in general will need to use the Fixed Layout EPUB due to fixed positions of elements such as tables and vertically aligned text and intentional blank pages in the print version.  I am realizing though that I will need to keep a version of the book contents that uses a different header/footer and does not include blank pages. Is this just the way it goes (any changes in content need to be done in 2 places) or is there a different way?

- Steve

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Community Expert , Oct 13, 2023 Oct 13, 2023

I highly reccommend James' book, https://www.amazon.com/Word-InDesign-Kindle-Professional-Guide/dp/B09J7MPJSM

 

I wouldn't waste time googling, you'll just draw up a lot of unprofessional nonsense. James is one of the most knowledgeable experts on EPUBs because he designs and creates them for a living.

 

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Community Expert ,
Oct 12, 2023 Oct 12, 2023

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Are you aware of the issues with fixed layout epub? There are very few reader apps that produce even acceptable results and Kindle is NOT one of them. You can export facing pages as single landscape pages but beyond that, there's really not much else to consider design-wise.

 

If you have specific questions go right ahead and create new topics to cover them but I will warn you in advance...InDesign has a steep learning curve. This isn't really a beginner's project.

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 13, 2023 Oct 13, 2023

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Hi BobLevine,

Thanks for the feedback! I agree it is not a beginner's project 100%!  My 20-year engineering expertise has helped a ton learning InDesign, Premier Pro and PhotoShop - without it, yes this would be very difficult.

  
"Are you aware of the issues with fixed layout epub?"

>> I have read this is not the desired format unless you have something like a picture book or some other type of book that is not designed for flowing text. My book is such a book.  It is intended to have certain text on a left page and a table with other text on the right page.   When I export EPUB and open in the Kindle Previewer 3, the format looks great - just needs adjustments on the header/footer.   If I should not be using the Kindle Previewer to determine compatibility, then I definitely wont. 


"You can export facing pages as single landscape pages but beyond that, there's really not much else to consider design-wise."

>> Could you point me in the direction of where I can read up on this?

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Community Expert ,
Oct 14, 2023 Oct 14, 2023

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It's an option in the export dialog:

2023-10-14_07-44-14.png

 

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Community Expert ,
Oct 14, 2023 Oct 14, 2023

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The issue here is that a spread will be twice as large as a page (all things being equal), and the page image on most readers thus reduced that much and requiring zooming and panning to read. All technical limitations and faults of fixed-page layout aside, few readers are going to use a device or app window large enough to read even a 12x9 inch book spread at a comfortable text size. The inherent ability of reflowable to fit nearly any reader size or situation is why it is the natural evolutionary form of "books" in the post-print era.


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Expert ,
Oct 12, 2023 Oct 12, 2023

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As Bob notes, fixed layout EPUB (FXL) is an obsolete, difficult format and is decreasingly compatible with e-book systems, especially Kindle.

 

It is quite possible to do dual-format publication from a single InDesign book file, with export to PDF for print and reflowable EPUB for e-book and Kindle. It's an involved process but once mastered you can easily build new books to dual export and not have to create or maintain separate source files. My book, as noted in the sig, has extensive information on not only general EPUB and EPUB-to-Kindle processes, but the whole dual-format process as well. But — fair warning, and again echoing Bob's comments — it assumes reasonable mastery of InDesign to begin with, and some experience with web page (HTML/CSS) editing is an asset.

 

Happy to answer any questions as well.


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 13, 2023 Oct 13, 2023

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Thanks James for the feedback.  Do you happen to know of any articles that walk through this process?  I am happy to read and learn.    If not, no worries I will keep Googling with "dual-format publication from a single InDesign book file" as a starting point.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 13, 2023 Oct 13, 2023

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I highly reccommend James' book, https://www.amazon.com/Word-InDesign-Kindle-Professional-Guide/dp/B09J7MPJSM

 

I wouldn't waste time googling, you'll just draw up a lot of unprofessional nonsense. James is one of the most knowledgeable experts on EPUBs because he designs and creates them for a living.

 

|    Bevi Chagnon   |  Designer & Technologist for Accessible Documents
|    Classes & Books for Accessible InDesign, PDFs & MS Office |

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Community Expert ,
Oct 14, 2023 Oct 14, 2023

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If the cheering section would quiet down now (thx, B...) I would say in all due modesty that there is no comparable reference and guide to getting to finished EPUB and Kindle from InDesign than mine. It's been updated and expanded several times in pursuit of that goal.

 

It does, though, start with the assumption that the user is a capable InDesign user that has mastered all the basics of using styles and rigorous layout methods to create book-length documents. (I found no good reason, and had no patience, to start with ID newbies. There are vast resources available for that level of training and knowledge.) It also helps if you've done at least some web design and grasp HTML and CSS code, but I do come in at a somewhat lower level on that since even experienced publication designers might never have strayed to the web side much.

 

As for info out on the web, this is one of my books I initially wrote from something between irritation and sheer rage at the abysmal quality of "expertise" out there on the topic, which at its very best is often years or decades out of date (especially with regard to Kindle), but no 'e-book guru' I have ever encountered can bear to bring down old web pages and how-tos, and few if any even date their posts and blogs so that newcomers can judge whether the info might be suspect.

 

There is still even a large faction of "experts" out there — usually those who have "published more than 500 novels" — who will immediately jump on any mention of InDesign with a canned/shopworn rant about how ID is a lousy tool for the job.

 

So: while I'd be pleased to have any contrary material brought to my attention, the only currently reliable path to mastering EPUB and EPUB to Kindle from InDesign is my book (and website, and guidance here in this forum), starting from solid ID skills and maybe some web experience. There are other good resources, such as some highly-regarded training videos, but IMHO they breeze along a little too fast, assuming you are working in a very standard fashion and will encounter no problems; some very complex steps are reduced to a minute or two of explaining a menu. Not enough unless you're very lucky with your source material and your goals. And if any resource out there deep-dives half as far in the specific technicalities of applying CSS styling to ID export, it's never come to my attention.

 

Back to the actual topic here, I know of no other comprehensive resources for doing dual-format layout beyond the simplest either-or differences. I think my approach and methods are, at least so far, unique.

 

So again: happy to answer any questions. We've (collectively) untangled some very messy e-book problems on here in recent times, and very good/better answers have often come from others here who know some aspect of the process more thoroughly.


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 14, 2023 Oct 14, 2023

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Thanks James.  I bought the book and I am literally planning to read right now.  

 

I am a software engineer with 20 yrs experience and seasoned HTML/CSS experience so I am optimistic I will direction I need in your book.  A quick 'skim' suggests I will be good to go with what I need to do next.

 

 

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Community Expert ,
Oct 14, 2023 Oct 14, 2023

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Well, thanks. Really, if there's one key to it all, it's being meticulous in your use of styles — defining them, using them in every instance (no spot formatting or shortcuts) and mapping them into the CSS file, even if the changes are null. Here if you get stuck!


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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