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Creating book templates for both print and e-book at the same time?

Participant ,
Jan 21, 2024 Jan 21, 2024

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Hi!
I have two questions regarding e-book production in InDesign that I would appreciate help with.

 

1. As a designer, I usually create traditional book templates in InDesign (textbooks for printing), templates with various formats, content, etc. Now, I have been asked to create a template that also works for epub export, and I wonder if there is anything technically that needs to be done already in the print book template, to make it easier for the person who later export the finished book to epub? (Other than possibly considering which font etc. to choose.) Isn't the adaptation something that is done later when the book is completed, so to speak? Note that I won't be handling the epub export of the finished books, which will be done by someone with specific epub expertise. I'm only creating the templates.

  1. The same client has asked me to create a template directly for Instaread texts, which are read directly on the phone. Are there any "ready-made" templates or specific guidelines for such e-books? I am eager to learn what is required but am not quite sure where to start. 

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EPUB , How to , Print

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correct answers 2 Correct answers

Community Expert , Jan 21, 2024 Jan 21, 2024

The short answer to all your questions is 'yes.'

 

The only-slightly-longer answer is that such dual-format publishing is right at your fingertips, in the form of PDF. Create one set of PDF files for print, and something very similar, if different at all, for a e-doc version of the same material with all formatting and layout preserved. Done.

 

The problem with PDF is that it does not make a salable book, since there is next to no way to impose reliable DRM on it. It takes very high-level, serve

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Community Expert , Jan 22, 2024 Jan 22, 2024

Templates are always problematical because it's so easy to "color outside the lines" either inadvertently or by trying to add or change styles. A really bulletproof style will tolerate most unintended faults, but nothing can keep a user from changing, adding, moving, breaking something  —"it is difficult to make something truly foolproof because fools are so ingenious" and all that.

 

A very well constructed print template could be a nearly automatic EPUB template through complete and meticulous

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Community Expert ,
Jan 21, 2024 Jan 21, 2024

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The short answer to all your questions is 'yes.'

 

The only-slightly-longer answer is that such dual-format publishing is right at your fingertips, in the form of PDF. Create one set of PDF files for print, and something very similar, if different at all, for a e-doc version of the same material with all formatting and layout preserved. Done.

 

The problem with PDF is that it does not make a salable book, since there is next to no way to impose reliable DRM on it. It takes very high-level, server-based sales systems to issue PDF books with something like a working copy protection. Few of those systrems are general sales outlets like Amazon, meaning pretty much all sales of the e-book have to be captured and directed; organic sales are likely to be nil. But, if the client is not publishing for profit, PDF solves all your problems and won't require anything but some additional mastery of its export options.

 

If PDF won't work, the only remaining option is EPUB. EPUB can be sold with reasonably tight DRM, both from direct sellers like SmashWords (who just merged with another provider; the details escape me) and through, of course, KDP/Amazon/Kindle.

 

InDesign does not, as a rule, export perfectly clean EPUB documents from a print layout. It can be close, but ragged in spacing and such, and if there are images, tables or other complicated elements, it won't be close enough to be good enough. The material has to be specifically formatted for each destination.

 

One approach would be two different source files in InDesign, one for print output and one for EPUB export. But that means keeping two sources in sync, which is a headache in itself even if there are few running changes in the book, and it's not really any savings of time or effort over true dual-format publishing, wherein one ID source produces both PDF for print production and EPUB for e-book (EPUB or Kindle) release. It is not difficult, especialy, but it involves processes and approaches not usually found in print-only book design.

 

The list of "don'ts" here is short: don't use fixed-page EPUB (FXL), and don't spec/embed fonts in the reflowable EPUB design. Everything else is a matter of meticulous structure and format in the InDesign doc, and using CSS styles to modify the content to EPUB needs.

 

It should be possible to create templates for dual-format books (as in a series of some kind) but that will rely on fine-tuning the CSS styles to a somewhat higher degree, and adhering to meticulous, 'perfect' layout methods in each new book document.

 

Happy to answer questions on this.


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

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Community Expert ,
Jan 21, 2024 Jan 21, 2024

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And an addendum about your last point: there isn't really any faster or more efficient platform for writing of  moderate length on mobile devices than HTML. I'm not quite sure what an 'insta-read' document is, but if it's meant to be longer than an email ad and shorter than a book and efficiently pushed out to screens that aren't really optimal for reading long-form documents, the fluidity and flexibility of HTML is hard to beat.

 

(This is something that's gotten a bit lost over the years, as HTML/CSS/web has become something confined to "building web pages," while a variety of less-optimal methods are used to present "e-books." HTML etc. is superb for flexible document delivery if you step back from the notion that it has to be some sort of fully structured 'web page.')


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

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Participant ,
Jan 21, 2024 Jan 21, 2024

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Thank you for your detailed response. To summarize, my interpretation is that as I am only creating the templates for upcoming book publications (note that I won't be handling the epub export of the finished books, which will be done by someone with specific epub expertise), I don't need to make any specific adjustments for EPUB already in the original template? The primary templates is for printed book, and what I'm wondering is whether I can/need to make adjustments for EPUB already at that stage? In other words, is there anything I should consider at this point to make it easier for the person who will later convert it to EPUB, beyond the choice of font, creating smooth and consistent paragraph styles, etc.?

 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 22, 2024 Jan 22, 2024

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Templates are always problematical because it's so easy to "color outside the lines" either inadvertently or by trying to add or change styles. A really bulletproof style will tolerate most unintended faults, but nothing can keep a user from changing, adding, moving, breaking something  —"it is difficult to make something truly foolproof because fools are so ingenious" and all that.

 

A very well constructed print template could be a nearly automatic EPUB template through complete and meticulous CSS style development. (I have examples where the ID document looks like a typewritten manuscript, but as long as styles are applied correctly, the CSS export control turns out a fully formatted e-book.) A document created with the template to print specs should then export to EPUB almost flawlessly... but there are no ways to guarantee every user's work will comply with the template/s requirements.

 

But assuming you create a sturdy ID document and comprehensive CSS to go with it, and enforce user compliance with all the set's requirements — make them color within the lines — then yes, all that should be quite achievable.


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

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Participant ,
Jan 21, 2024 Jan 21, 2024

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Thank you also for answering question two. I will look into the matter further.

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