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Category: Ebook and digital production

Ken Jones

Frustrated with EPUB? You need OMGPUB!

For illustrated publishers, interactive EPUB has never really worked. Typical reflowable EPUBs are too plain and simplistic and although visually rich and interactive EPUBs are possible, they are too hard to make, too hard to distribute and too hard for readers to be able to read.

We need a better solution, a new style of ebook that can be more easily created and can then be securely delivered to any reader on any device, we need ‘OMGPUB’!

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Anna Cunnane

What publishers need to know about git (distributed version control system)

Git is a free to use distributed version control software for tracking changes in software development. However, the benefits of using a fully-fledged version control system like git don’t just apply to writing software. Whether it’s a bug fix or a paperback edition both publishers and software developers are constantly shipping new products and revising older ones. This means that every day we perform similar sorts of tasks:

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Bee Kapitan

Top 5 tips to publish your interactive content with confidence

Beyond creating a cover and converting an MS Word file, ebooks are evolving – exponentially. Yet, bridging the gap between traditional print methods with digital innovation has created huge barriers for authors not being able to sell one version of their work across all platforms.

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digital publishing

EPUB 3.2 – What is it and should we care?

EPUB is the open standard that defines exactly what an ebook can be, and EPUB 3.2 – the first real update to the EPUB format since EPUB 3 in 2012 – has just been approved by the W3C Community Group and Business Group (the clever people that decide on such things).

If you are the sort of person who enjoys reading specification documentation then you can get up to speed with the full list of changes here. Otherwise, let me explain the main points of what has changed…

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creative cloud

Happy New CC 2019. Adobe updates its creative cloud software

Ken Jones runs Circular Software. He was Technical Production Manager and Publishing Software Trainer for Penguin and Dorling Kindersley for many years and now offers software, training and advice to publishers such as Parragon, Nosy Crow, Walker Books and Quarto on how to get the best from their print workflow.

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Your proof

What does your proof actually prove?

proof /pru:f/
noun
• a trial impression of a page, used for making corrections before final printing.

verb
• make a proof of (a printed work, engraving, etc.).
• proofread (a text).

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creative cloud

CMYK is not a colour

Ken Jones runs Circular Software. He was Technical Production Manager for Penguin and Dorling Kindersley for several years and has since advised publishers such as Parragon, Nosy Crow, Walker Books and Quarto on how to get the best from their print workflow.

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book buzz

The first Unplugged event of 2018: Talking Production

Abbie Headon is BookMachine’s Commissioning Editor and runs Abbie Headon Publishing Services. She champions fresh approaches to solving the industry’s challenges and can be found mingling at most publishing events.

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Making a groundbreaking animated and interactive children’s storybook

This article is by Ken Jones of Circular Software. Ken is running the Understanding eBooks day on 25th April 2018.

I’ve been involved in making beautiful and interactive fixed layout ebooks since before there was a standard for such things. But trust me, this one is different… It is truly the finest example of interactive children’s story telling I have ever seen, it contains custom movies on every spread, background audio, professional narration and read aloud text highlighting, placed web code, personalisation, interactive animations and puzzles!

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creative cloud

Smart, scalable and responsible print production [Ken Jones interview]

Ken Jones was Technical Production Manager for Penguin and Dorling Kindersley for several years and has since advised publishers such as Parragon, Nosy Crow, Walker Books and Quarto on how to get the best from their print workflow.

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Heather O'Connell

Smart, scalable and responsible print production [Heather O’Connell interview]

Heather O’Connell has more than 20 years experience in the publishing industry and worked her way up from controller to senior management positions at Penguin and Harper Collins. She now runs Bluebird Consulting and also teaches Production both in-house and via the Publishing MA at UCL.

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Contract proofing

Contract proofing: why adopt the latest profiles?

Jamie Robinson has been at f1 colour for 24 years, rising through the ranks to Managing Director. Over that time his passion for colour and accuracy has shown no sign of abating, often providing crash courses for production staff at publishers who want to learn more about the ‘dark arts’ of colour and profiling images for print.

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The top 10 most useful ebook writing software

The age of handwriting your ebook and typing it up later is long gone. While I am a lover of beautiful stationery, an ebook writing software can be much more useful.

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How to share advance copies of ebooks to those without a suitable device

I was talking to a customer about their ebook publishing programme last week and heard that they are looking for a simple way to send copies of reflowable and fixed layout ebooks out for approval. Their question was this:

“Is there a straightforward way for someone outside of the company to open and read an eBook?”

 

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Well someone once said “knowledge is power” and as the newly christened head of the BookMachine Production channel I thought I should share the answer I gave them here.

A little history

EPUB2 was first approved as an ebook standard way back in 2007. For reflowable text novels it was, and arguably still is, a good enough format. However, ebooks have the potential to be much more. Lots of new features that have were introduced into of the EPUB3 standard such as audio, video, animation, read aloud text highlighting, fixed layout design control and more. Here’s a longer list if you really want to know more.

With extra interactions and much better accessibility too it sounds like a good idea, right? But, although EPUB3 happened five years ago, still today the appetite from publishers for adding interactivity into their ebooks is… well… lets say less than ravenous. There are a few reasons for this but one of the biggest is the lack of reliable support for these feature in most ebook reading devices.

The IDPF (the body that decide upon and maintain the EPUB standards) have made it their mission to encourage the uptake of the modern EPUB3 standard. A very neat way for them to demonstrate how modern EPUB3 readers could and should work is by building one. They have done this. It’s called Readium. It’s very good.

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Not content with just demonstrating how it can be done they also license the SDK (the ‘software development kit’) to ebook developers for use in their own products e.g. Adobe Digital Editions and Cloudshelf Reader. But, best of all, they allow web developers and everyone else to use Readium in the browser entirely free of charge.

How to open ebooks in your browser

On any modern desktop or laptop PC or Mac:

1) Install and Open the Google Chrome Browser.

2) Install the Readium Chrome Extension

3) Launch and click the ‘Add to Library’ (the plus icon) to upload any EPUB2 or EPUB3 either reflowable or fixed layout.

4) Click on the cover to open and read the EPUB, including the table of content, links and rich interactive features all work right there in the browser.

Note: By adding a book to the library you are not uploading it. Even though you are in a browser, the Readium Chrome Extension will continue to work whilst offline.

Tip: To delete an ebook you must view the library in list view and then click on the ‘Details’ button to find the ‘Delete’ button.

A word of warning

The EPUB is an ‘open’ standard just like MP3 or PDF. This is important and intentional but it does mean that sending your unrestricted EPUB file to someone means they are able to read and also SHARE this file, just like you did. Along with discoverability, the restrictions on sharing that Apple, Amazon and other ebook retailers add on top the ebook is the real value that they add for their 30% cut of the sale price.

More possibilities…

For publishers looking for a little more, these powerful Readium tools also make it possible for companies like mine to build more features into a browser based service. For instance by adding full text search and access/sharing controls that work by simply sharing a URL that can be opened in any modern browser.

Take a look at an example here.

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Ken Jones is a publishing software expert with over ten years experience as Technical Production Manager, software trainer and developer at DK and Penguin Group UK. Ken’s company ‘Circular Software’ provides software tools and services for a range of illustrated book publishing customers including Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Thames & Hudson and Nosy Crow. Contact Ken via twitter @circularken or www.circularsoftware.com

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