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Converting from hardback to EPUB

Community Beginner ,
Nov 16, 2023 Nov 16, 2023

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I have published a 10" by 8" hardback book created in InDesign which has now sold out and I wish to create an eBook in the Kindle standard 9" by 6" format. Is there any way I can scale down the original document to fit the new format in InDesign without altering the book's pagination and index? 

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Community Expert ,
Nov 16, 2023 Nov 16, 2023

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Yes and no. 

Your 4 x 5 ratio book will become a 2 x 3 ratio epub. 

You could try File > Adjust layout coupled together with adjusting the Paragraph styles in order to keep the same relative amount of text on each page. 

However, text is going to reflow in this new page shape.

OTOH, if the epub is a reflowable text epub, the reflow and change of page count is part of the way reflowable epubs work anyway. The viewer decides the text size, and therefore "page" counts become a non-physical thing. Indexes, if you bother to make them, have to be hyperlinks to places in text; not pages. Many epubs don't have classic indexes because of the search feature. The specialized version of epub for Kindle is an .azw3 file, also known as a .kf8 file.

Mike Witherell

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Community Expert ,
Nov 16, 2023 Nov 16, 2023

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If you want to export to a fixed-page layout, you would be best off reformatting the book at a ratio closer to that of the average Kindle screen. (There is no absolute standard, as the hard readers vary and the app readers are of course 'flexible.' But it's a really, really poor idea to create e-books in fixed-page format unless they are "picture page" books like children's books, art books, graphic novels or some how-to guides.

 

The correct — better — flexible way to take a text book to Kindle is to export to reflowable EPUB. It's not simple, but then, neither is fixed-page export unless the source file was designed for export right from the start — fixed page e-books only seem like a simple, obvious option.

 

The good news is that there are fairly straightforward processes to get from an InDesign print layout to a reflowable EPUB export that will make a clean, tidy Kindle edition. You can even do both from one source file, to simplify the work flow and preserve consistency (over keeping two different sources in step), but that's a fairly advanced option.

 

The absolute base requirement for EPUB export is to have a meticulously clean InDesign file, with fully defined styles for every paragraph and character override. There cannot be default, undefined or spot formats. How is your source file in that respect?


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide, v3.0 ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 16, 2023 Nov 16, 2023

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Thanks for this James.

The book was created using well defined paragraph settings throughout. The
book does heave a few illustrations though (19 illustrations in a 316 page
book) and when I tried exporting as a reflowable ePub it threw the
positioning of the images out and caused stripes to appear across the
images.

Do you have any suggestions as to how I might overcome this issue please?

Thanks in anticipation,
Pete.

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Community Expert ,
Nov 16, 2023 Nov 16, 2023

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A print layout rarely exports to EPUB in acceptable form; as a start, you have to apply detailed export parameters to the images so that they flow with the text in appropriate size and positioning. You can do this entirely with adjusting InDesign styles (in a copy — the result will no longer be suitable for print publication), but the fine-tune, pro way to do it is to use at least some CSS style adjustments in the export.

 

But a well-structured ID file, with meticulous style management, a single text flow, and things like images properly anchored in place and formatted for export, is about 90% of the way there.

 

Do you have any experience with HTML/CSS/simple web page layout? That's the path to using CSS for EPUB. (EPUBs are, more or less, just a packaged website with some quirks — XHTML content files, CSS style files, a few XML data files for things like TOCs, and a folder of image files. Easy to understand if you've tinkered with web stuff, and you do NOT have to work with the exported EPUB at all, just feed the right material into the export process.)


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide, v3.0 ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 16, 2023 Nov 16, 2023

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Thanks James,

Unfortunately I don't have any prior experience with HTML or CSS and our
website using WordPress.

I guess it's something I'm going to have to give it a try using a copy of
the original and see how I go from there.

Thanks for your help.

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Community Expert ,
Nov 16, 2023 Nov 16, 2023

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It's not hard to do some basic CSS style overrides, but you can get quite a ways with in-ID formatting.

 

Create a copy and starting with all the body text, adjust spacing etc. until you get the export results you want. Continue with headings. As you go, try different global image export options to see which ones give acceptable results with the most images. Then adjust any "unhappy" images by right-clicking and setting more detailed export options for that one alone.

 

It helps to have ID open Kindle Previewer automatically on each export. Note that it will open many windows, so get in the habit of closing them when you're done with each review pass.

 

Happy to answer questions as well.

 

ETA: You can simplify the job and avoid a few potential problems by deleting everything in the work doc that isn't in the primary text flow. Reflowable EPUB doesn't use headers or footers or other boilerplate Parent page content. The print TOC is usually omitted in favor of a dynamic one. Ditto for indexes; with searchability, only a good content-focused index is worth keeping. End notes can be problematic, if you have any. But work from a streamlined doc to keep things simple.

 

ETA2: And don't export or embed fonts. It can be done on Kindle, but it's fussy, breakable and adds nothing to most text books when the user can override fonts anyway. Work to plain serif and sans-serif text only.


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide, v3.0 ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 16, 2023 Nov 16, 2023

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Thanks a lot, you've been very helpful.

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