Monday, October 31, 2011

How TidBITS Makes EPUBs in Pages

How Take Control Makes EPUBs in Pages, article.
[Take Control is the ebook arm of TidBITS. Pages is a desktop publishing app by Apple. ePub is a dominant ebook format.]

Wow, cool, I had just mentioned this company and the process in a post. Great that they make an article about this, who else would do such a thing? I mean that literally, I can't think of anybody else.

I love writing like this. Written not for programmers, and neither for the maaaaahhhses, but for the intelligent layman who wants to know more about how things work.

The article for example has some explanation of the differences between the basic formats like PDF and ePub, something we touched upon recently here.
In part:
In a sense, PDFs live at the intersection of print and pixel: an onscreen PDF (such as a Take Control book) should look exactly like a printed version of the document, with the same fonts, colors, and layout characteristics, including the same pagination.
The EPUB format, on the other hand, was designed to present documents in a readable way on portable digital devices, allowing the EPUB reading software to adjust the layout and appearance of an onscreen document to conform to the characteristics of the device on which it is read.

The article also gives a good impression of the complexity of ebook conversion, like we've discussed in the past week.

And it reminded me to try out the Firefox ePub Reader plugin, which is kewl, for instance for reading ePub books on laptops or netbooks. (Amazing really that the Standard ebook format has so little software to read it on desktop/laptop computers. It's a weird world.) The plugin has very good programming, it has clickable chapter headings in a sidebar, and in wide windows it makes more than one column! Excellent thinking.

As an armchair designer and an art lover, I do admire a beautifully designed page. But I must admit that as a reader of middle age, I also do appreciate formats like ePub, where the reader can set the font and size (and sometimes colors) to make the reading experience as pleasant as possible. I have a hardcover book on marketing which I could never read, because it's a big book and set in a telephone-book-like text size. Later I got the iPad and found the book as ebook, what a pleasure!

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