Creating EPUB ebooks with InDesign CS5: Training Course

During some research on using Adobe’s InDesign to create EPUB documents I came across this UK training course entitled, “Creating ePubs with InDesign”, which is being run by Highlander, one of the UK’s oldest and most successful training providers for the creative, web and marketing sectors.

They have two 1 Day sessions available in March and April (London, UK) and the course will cover everything from an introduction to EPUB documents, to setting up paragraph and character styles, to setting up metadata, to covering the processes involved in converting the exported EPUB files to other ebook formats – I presume the Amazon Kindle will be covered, but there is no mention of it on their website.

You’ll need to have previous experience with Adobe’s InDesign CS5 software and it’ll also be useful if you have some previous knowledge of HTML and CSS, although it’s not a requirement.

Here’s a (shortened) outline of the course details; [Read more…]

New Asus Eee Reader with Dual Screen

Fancy an eBook reader with two screens? Then you might want to take a look when Asus release their Eee Reader, which could be out before the end of the year.

I’m not totally convinced that having two screens will improve peoples reading experience, though perhaps the one book type that could benefit woud be the textbook. The ability to have the book on one screen and a web browser on the other, looking up a spelling, or word meaning over the internet would be quite handy too.

There is also speculation on what book format the device would use. Well, if this reader is based on the normal Asus netbooks I would say that every book format would be readable. Adobe DE? Mobipocket Reader? And why not, as Steve Jordan commented in his recent Teleread article, maybe we need eBook readers to support every format. If the Eee Reader is a Windows based system then that could be a reality, we’d even see Adobe Digital Editions on there, meaning ePub formated books will be readable to.

Steve Jobs talks again about dedicated readers, insisting that, “general-purpose devices will win the day”. Well, as usueful as it is to be able to read books on an iPhone/iPod Touch, the small screens just don’t hack it for me, so perhaps the Asus will be the first company that makes a viable general purpose device. The image above is not likely the real thing so it will be interesting to see what they come up with

There are currently 17 Adobe EPUB eBook Readers

I was just over at Bill McCoy’s blog (Adobe) reading his latest post about the current number of dedicated eBook readers which support the Adobe DRM’d EPUB format. Of course there are a number of other reading devices, such as the iPhone that can read non-DRM EPUB eBooks, but it is still surprising how many there actually are.

The Adobe Digital Edition Devices page has a little more details on each but here’s a very quick run down;

  • EZ Reader
  • EZ Reader Pocket Pro
  • Mentor
  • BeBook One
  • BeBook Mini
  • Cybook Gen3
  • Cybook Opus
  • Cool-er
  • Elonex eBook
  • Hanlin V5
  • Hanlin V3
  • iRex Digital Reader 1000S
  • NUUT2
  • Sony Reader PRS-300
  • Sony Reader PRS-505
  • Sony Reader PRS-600
  • Sony Reader PRS-700

Have you heard of all these?

Bill himself seems suprised, saying, “this is faster take-up than even this optimist had hoped for, given our launch less than six months ago of the enabling Adobe Reader Mobile 9 SDK that’s been integrated into all of these products.”

Whether you believe DRM is right or wrong, the positive side of this is that we are seeing more vendors supporting the one eBook format.

We are however still waiting to see if the Amazon Kindle’s will start supporting EPUB; will they use their own DRM – will they use any DRM at all. Let us also not forget Apple, what formats will they support on their upcoming tablet.

Blackewell opens new eBook store with ePub download option

While all the U.S. publishers/eBook stores remain reluctant to embrace the ePub format, the UK, and Europe in general, is really forging forward with its adoption. The latest to release an eBook store selling ePub books (plus PDF and other popular formats), is the UK academic publisher, Blackwell.

In addition to the 45,000 titles they have launched with (in partnership with the eBook wholesaler Gardners), Blackwell will also be stocking the BeBook eReader, a reader which is becoming quite popular among UK users.

It’s uncertain as to whether they will use any DRM (I can’t imagine they won’t) but at the moment the BeBook does not suopport the Adobe (ePub/PDF) DRM. However, there was a recent annoucment from Endless Ideas, who sell the BeBook, that their new WiFi BeBook reader will be supporting ePub DRM. Perhaps there will soon be a firmware update for the current model.

Borders UK release the Elonex: their very own eBook Reader

In a press release on thebookseller.com, Borders UK have announced the release of their own ePub eBook reader, in an effort to compete with the Waterstones/Sony partnership.

According to the article this reader has been specially developed for Borders, although it gives no details on exactly what the specifications are. All I know is that it is an E-Ink device that readers EPUB and “Adobe formats” (presumably PDF). As it has been released to work with the 45,000+ titles available at borders.co.uk, it must also be able to read the Adobe DRM protection.

At the moment it seems exclusively for in-store release as there is no mention at all on their website.

It’s great to see some comptetition for the Sony and of course more choice for the consumer. If I find out anything else about it I’ll let you know.

epubcheck and Adobe’s page-map

A couple of weeks back we had a new release of the epub validation tool as the old one was not validating documents properly. epubcheck-1.0.3 was released to fix the XMLParser as it was not allowing multiple validators to be added.

The error was first realised by Jon Noring who noticed that Adobe’s “page-map” attribute extension, which is used in the NCX , was being validated incorrectly. This extended markup can be used for mapping page numbers (to align with those in the paper book edition).

Jon Noring has posted to several communities about the page-map issue. Here’s a short extract (slightly edited); [Read more…]

EPUB Preflight (Style Checking)

Paul Norton from Adobe Digital Editions has now released the epubpreflight validation tool. This small utility is meant as a compliment to epubcheck and is used to check that your ePub files are suitable for Mobile devices. There are many guidelines that need to be followed when developing ePub for mobile devices that are not mentioned in the EPUB specs, so this is going to be a very welcome tool.

Here’s a list of things that epubpreflight currently checks for;

  • Content files that are empty.
  • Content files that are over 300KB.
  • Image files that are empty.
  • Image files that are over 10MB.

As you can see the list is rather small at the moment but this will grow in time. On the DE blog, Paul also mentions that he would like to see a set of configuration files that could test for specific platforms (ADE, PRS505, conversion to other formats, etc.)

It’s going to be a good number of years yet before mobile devices have the power to parse very large files (images, chapters, etc) so it’s going to be in everyone’s interest to see this tool developed.

ePub books finally reach mass market status

New eBook Standard Now Available For Mass Market Audience was the title from yesterdays WebWire press release on the ePub book catalogue at BooksOnBoard.com. With almost 200 eBooks in the ePub format this is the first real source for mass market books to be released in the new eBook standard.

It’s a little unclear if the ePub versions have DRM restrictions, but as the site states;

DRM Adobe ebooks can be read only on Adobe Reader 7, Adobe Acrobat 7, or Adobe Digital Editions […] We recommend Adobe Digital Editions for Adobe format eBooks, both pdf and ePub versions…

We must presume that they have DRM in place.

The market is still waiting for better ePub readers and until we get those it won’t matter how many ePub books they release. Let’s hope that the Sony Reader (PRS-505) receives its Digital Editions firmware update soon and that other dedicated readers, such as the Amazon Kindle and Cybook follow suit.

Yes, we still have a long way to go but it does look like we’re on the right track.

Adobe release Digital Editions 1.5 – with enhanced DRM flexibility

Adobe Digital Editions has been updated with enhanced DRM support and flexibility, now at version 1.5. Adobe DE is a Flash based, lightweight, internet application used for reading PDF’s and the IDPF’s ePub document formats.

The enhancements to their DRM means that users activate their DRM protection on a named basis, this allows you to move your protected eBooks/eDocuments across platforms and mobile devices, of course we’d rather not have any DRM (or at least just social DRM). There is also a limit of 6 desktop and 6 handheld devices that you can activate, which should be okay for most people in the short term but over a period of several years we are likely to need to activate more devices than this, particlarly if we have to re-format our OS. We shall have to see what the future holds for those needing to activate more devices.
[Read more…]