Tag: epub

Do-it-yourself scanning: how we got into OCR and you can too

Nick Barreto works where books and technology intersect. He’s managed and built apps, is as an expert on ebook formats, metadata and workflows. He is committed to automating all the repetitive tasks to free up more time for the work that matters. Nick is one of Canelo’s co-founders and the Technology Director. @nickbarreto

Continue reading

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?”

 

ken-fig-1

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.

ken-fig-2

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.

ken-fig-3

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

What’s your flavour?: Selecting the right XML for your content

This is a guest post from Emily Gibson and Nic Gibson. They are both directors of Corbas Consulting Ltd and each have over 20 years’ publishing experience, mostly in editorial, print and digital production.

Chocolate, vanilla, matcha and strawberry ice cream in the cone on old rustic wooden vintage background.

The other day we were contacted by a client who was really excited about the new digital publishing process they were putting into place, and they wanted some help getting things right. They had bought a database and needed to get their Word documents into the XML language that their database needed. However, the ‘flavour’ of XML that they had chosen wasn’t going to support the content that they were producing. That means that they aren’t going to get the best results and full value from their workflow system.

You see, publishing with XML is not just a matter of deciding to ‘have an XML workflow’. (For a basic description for editors, see, for example, this one in The Chicago Manual of Style.) There are many different ‘flavours’ of XML and you need to pick the one that fits your needs. These needs are defined by the type of content you are publishing and your workflow.

A well styled Word document, for example, can be transformed into a decent XML file. Once you have an XML file, you could simply apply scripts to it to create your output (PDF, HTML for your website, EPUB) – if you have a Word document for your novel, for example, that had Word Styles consistently applied, you can simply run a program to get whatever output you need.

On the other hand, if you have a bunch of journal articles, you could save the files into an XML-aware database and apply those scripts to all your content at once to produce a collection. Whichever system you choose is partly driven by the degree of automation that fits your publishing needs. If you are publishing fifteen monographs a year, there’s not a lot of benefit to an all-singing and all-dancing XML database. If you are publishing several hundred articles a year then there are some big benefits.

The first step is to decide how you are going to go from manuscript to XML and then you need to decide what systems you are going to use to manipulate and transform it.

You need to think about both the structure and the content of your manuscripts when you decide on which flavour of XML you are going to choose. The different flavours of XML are very different in their structure and their expressiveness. The only thing you can be fairly sure of is that there is already one which will meet most of your needs (you don’t need to write it from scratch).

There are different tag sets (the set of elements in an XML language, a.k.a. what’s inside the pointy brackets) that suit different kinds of content, and there are different tools to suit them, too. In the same way that ice cream and sausages are both delicious, but you wouldn’t want them together, not every flavour of XML goes with every kind of content.

Match the content you publish with the appropriate XML language. For example:

Simple Narrative
Pedagogical
Legal
Encyclopedic
Journals

If your content doesn’t have specialised semantics (e.g. legal, programming), the XML variant of HTML5, XHTML (as used in EPUB) is perfectly suitable for a lot of narrative (e.g. novels) and monograph material for EPUB, print and web outputs. The XML variant of HTML5 has the advantage of a smaller, simpler tag set, which makes it easier to work with for simpler content.

XML can help publishers tackle managerial as well as technical challenges. It provides ways to manage the workflow, the interaction between content and people, and the publishing processes, as well as the documents themselves. The features of XML ensure that information and its structure can be controlled and managed.

It can be a complex topic, but many publishing professionals find that knowing about XML – even if they don’t use it every day – is immensely useful. There are a number of places that you can learn about XML, but the XML Summer School, held each year in September, is the best and most comprehensive. It presents a range of XML techniques and applications in workflow, change management, QA, linked data, and document structure control to help publishers manage their content effectively.

The Hands-on Digital Publishing course provides hands-on material and helpful contacts in the world of publishing and XML. This course is chaired by Peter Flynn and taught by Nic GibsonNorm WalshTomos Hillman, and Tony Graham.

For more information, see: http://xmlsummerschool.com/curriculum-2016/xml-in-publishing-2016/

typesetting

Learning from Snapshots III: 8 typesetting tips for beginners

BookMachine have been busy with the next blook in the Snapshots series, Snapshots III, BookMachine on Publishing: The Next 5 Years. For the third year in a row, we’ve teamed up with Kingston University Press who have appointed a production team of students from Kingston’s Publishing MA course to design, typeset and proofread a selection of our best posts. Here Dania Zara, who designed and typeset the book, shares her top tips for beginners.

1) Get your master pages ready

Well laid out master pages will save you a lot of time. If your book contains multiple layouts that are to be used repeatedly, create a master page for each layout for easy application and to ensure consistency.

2) Plan your hierarchy

Evaluate the text and create a visual hierarchy that represents its structure. Possibilities are endless, from the standard bold and italic to changing the colour or font. It is advisable that each level of the hierarchy should be indicated by no more than three formatting styles.

Pro tip: Always remember to start with the longest heading or the longest title.

3) Create styles for formatting

To facilitate efficiency and consistency, create proper styles for headings, body text and their variations, instead of manual formatting. It will also make exporting the file to an ePub much easier.

4) Let the text breathe

Work with the line length, leading and tracking to assist readability and create a pleasing design. It is preferable to have no less than 40 and no more than 70 characters on a line. Experiment with type size and leading to get the combination that suits your publication. A common guideline for body text is that the leading should be 115% or 120% of the point size.

5) Don’t use the space bar to create that indent!

Not only will your indents be inconsistent but, if you plan on exporting your file into an ePub, things will get messy. Create indents using the paragraph settings. Similarly, page breaks should be made by inserting a page break character.

It is also useful to display hidden characters (Type> Show Hidden Characters). It will show those indents made by space bars that need to be replaced by proper formatting.

6) Orphans and widows will make you beg for mercy

It took me an hour to typeset a spread with three levels of headings, images and a widow that refused to be resolved. It made me realise typesetting can only be enjoyed (and endured) by those who love the nitty gritty of typography.

In my opinion, adjusting widows and orphans takes a bit of creative problem solving and depends on your layout. It can be done by: modifying the leading, kerning or tracking; fine-tuning the justification and hyphenation settings; sometimes removing a word can do the trick.

7) Proofread blind and against the manuscript after typesetting

You’d be surprised how many mistakes get through the cracks. Typesetting can make you blind to the text since you’re focusing on the format and style. If you’re working solo on a project, it is advisable to either get someone else to do it or take a break and return to the text with fresh eyes.

8) Books have odd pages on the right

I did not know that until a few months ago. Never even noticed it.

Grab your free ticket for the launch of Snapshots III here. For tips on editorial process, read this: Blook your blog: How to turn your blog posts into a book.

Dania Zafar is a MA Publishing student at Kingston University. She’s also a graphic designer and was a part of the BookMachine’s Snapshots III production team. Her mission is to create inter-cultural dialogue and promote cultural understanding through publishing.

Reading aloud: merging audio and text just got a lot easier

You may know that the modern EPUB3 standard has an inbuilt ability to hold audio and video, but one of the most intriguing aspects of EPUB3 that you may have overlooked is ‘Read-aloud’. This technique, sometimes called ‘media overlays’, combines a spoken audio track with accurate timing information usually used to highlight words on the page in time with the spoken audio.

Continue reading

Top 10 Tips for new ebook assistants

ArundatiThis is a guest post from Arundati Dandapani, who has degrees in English and Publishing and has studied, worked and travelled in India, USA and the UK. Today she finishes a fixed-term tenure at Lion Hudson as an ebooks assistant in Oxford, and is gearing up for the e-launch of her first novel and the actual launch of her second. Follow @itadnura on Twitter and LinkedIn.
 

I have spent the past three and a half months working as an ebooks assistant for an Oxford based Christian publishing house producing books that aim to illuminate, detail, debate, commodify, beautify, and question the Christian faith in non-fiction and fiction offerings, and with over 300 ebook titles already selling on all major retailer/online portals.

Here are my top ten tips for anyone freshly entering the ebooks arena.

Continue reading

Get the latest news and event info straight to your inbox

Account


+44 203 040 2298

6 Mitre Passage, Digital Greenwich - 10th Floor, Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0ER

© 2019 BookMachine We love your books