ePublishing picture books!

Well, it works…

Writing Essays by L E Jenkinson
The original .ppt slide.
Using iBook Author to create the iPad version of ‘Writing Essays’

Having written my book ‘Writing Essays’ in a rather unconventional way – using Powerpoint, in fact, because of its flexible image and textbox manipulation, I found it initially difficult to self-publish. I couldn’t easily convert the file to ePub as the normal route is to convert .doc files. The idea of ‘floating’ images, changing the layout each time the reader changed the text size, also didn’t appeal as the pages all have very fixed layout. The only possible route was to save each slide as a mid-res .jpg (a saga in itself!) and paste each one individually into a Word .doc with no borders, page breaking between each image. It took forever. For print, this was fine, but for eReader – initially Kindle – removed the possibility of searching the text of the document. I intend to use the same method to create the next book as it’s most important that it works as a printed paperback, but in the future I also want to be able to publish picture books as eBooks, so iBooks is quite a decent alternative.

Getting to grips with the formatting tools is quite easy – they’re pretty standard, similar to Word, if you’ve experience of ePub formatting, although I’m having to reformat the style of the pages so that they’ll work on the different page dimensions of an iPad. Luckily, I can copy from the .ppt and paste into the iBooks Author document – useful for the images –  which means I can easily re-organise the sections of each page, although if I want to allow text to be searched I need to copy it into a text box and reformat it to match.  However, what’s even more fun is that it’s really a whole new edition. For iPad, I’m looking to include some whizzy things next, such as section tests, mp3s explaining sections of the book, and moving images of Bert. I’m hoping this will add to the multi-platform saleability of the book itself, perhaps even allowing for the website to be integrated into it. For my educational purposes, that’s pretty exciting.

More as I work out the rest of the exciting iBooks Author details…


ePublishing picture books?

ePublishing picture books. In these exciting times, everything’s possible. But, as easy as it is to say, and to imagine, it’s actually a shockingly difficult thing to do. When you consider that ePubs and Mobis have run-on text that allows them to have the text resized and to work on several different sizes of screen, and picturebooks, well, don’t, you start to get the idea. How could you format the document so that the images stayed static? How could they fill the page? What about double-page spreads? And text?

Luckily, with ePublishing being an in-development ‘science’ as it were, this problem is starting to be approached by enterprising PoD publishers, App designers. For example, Blurb.com , trusty photobook PoD printer, has some interesting instructions for publishing picturebooks for iPad, the most logical recipient of a picturebook if you’re going to do something as odd as make a *picturebook*, aimed at, you know, *children*, available on a *digital device* (no, it doesn’t entirely hold with me either). These instructions – which are not exactly the simplest, I warn you – explain how to create what is basically a photobook but which will fit an iPad screen and allow for all-important double-page spreads. You can read the instructions here.

However, if you already have an iPad, it’s an altogether much easier process, apparently, if you use the wealth of apps that have suddenly appeared to allow you to do this, especially the much-lauded (and simply-named) Book Creator by RedJumper . Look at the screenshots. It makes the whole process look ridiculously easy, and not a code in sight.

Create Book by Red Jumper
Create Book: all too easy?

Create Book and the other apps also have the ability to add ‘Physics’ to e-picture books. I think that means they do whizzy things, like talk, or move, or they’re *interactive*, you know, because children have no actual patience with real books. (Yes, I’m still not won over yet.) Still, fun to play with with your kids.

Oh. No iPad?

Get stuffed then.

Luckily, an interesting rumour has surfaced today that Apple will announce this Thursday their intention to create – or maybe even their already-built creation – of an eBook creator that will be to ePublishing what GarageBand is to demo and podcast creation. Although this is mooted to initially only be applicable to the lucrative ‘interactive education text’ market, this would certainly open a whole wealth of opportunities to the self-publisher – or services like my own that help others self-publish – if they were to embrace both text and picture eBooks. Clearly a move in Apple’s Great Game with Amazon over the eBook market, it still seems like this type of program would immediately overtake the existing eBook publishers/converters, like the excellent Calibre , which would be, well, really good.


My reaction is to say Come on then, Apple, let’s see what you’ve done, and can I have a copy please?

Hell, we live in exciting times! Fingers crossed you don’t have to have an iPad…