Posts filed under 'e-books'

My First (Test) Ebook Project with Red Jumper Studio’s Book Creator for iPad

Add comment November 1st, 2012

I cannot remember exactly when or where I first heard about Red Jumper Studio’s Book Creator for iPad; but it couldn’t be more than a couple of weeks ago and somewhere online. It sounded like a great entry point for me to again try to get stoked about making ebooks, an app for repurposing print files for e-versions.

I have to admit there were some immediate red flags, even while reading about the iPad app. For one thing, even Red Jumper Studio suggests it’s probably best-suited for children’s picture books. It sounds like long docs were not their prime intention. Then, too, text will not flow from page to page or—I guess with ebooks it may be more accurate to say—from screen to screen. And Book Creator’s choice of typefaces is currently limited to fonts native to the iPad.

On the other hand, Book Creator for iPad is made for fixed layout ebooks.

You may all assume this last point won me over to at least explore what Book Creator offers, how it works, and what its end-product looks like.

So with all this in mind, I dug out a copy of Adrienne Ehlert Bashista’s Mishka: An Adoption Tale (Pittsboro, NC: DRT Press, 2007). With really pleasing illustrations by Miranda R. Mueller, this is one of the books I am most proud to be associated with.

If text would flow from page to page until it was all out there, I think that would have been fine. I would have found a new body text face/display face combination to suit this new version of the book. But having both factors forced on me by the program got me to thinking. Since I had to run illustrations on very nearly every page and JPEG files were best suited to this, that would mean downsampling artfiles to screen resolution and resaving as JPEGs.

The method I arrived at was one that could easily be brought into Action/Batch routines in Photoshop for quick, repeated steps for each piece of art. Seeing, however, that there were relatively few pages—compared to something other than a picture storybook for children—I wanted to do them manually, one at a time, to see how each illustration looked before placing them. I decided then to keep the body text and, essentially, make each page—including the text—an illustration. This allowed me to keep the original typefaces as part of those illustrations.

Here is the process I used:

  1. Open the PDF of all the interior pages of the book in Adobe Acrobat Pro—I currently work in version 10.1.4.
  2. Create a new folder and name it for the new ebook’s art.
  3. Select Tools => Pages => Extract and choose Extract Pages As Separate Files. Make sure to choose the new folder to save the Extracted Pages into.
  4. Open the first extracted PDF file in Photoshop as a Photoshop PDF.
  5. Select Image => Mode => RGB … if Mode is not already RGB.
  6. Resample at screen resolution by selecting Image => Image Size … and entering 72 for Resolution.
  7. Select File => Save As. For Format, choose JPEG and leave all other specs as is. Click Save. Enter 12 for Quality. Click OK.

And that was the process. Easy to see how this can be turned into an Action and then applied to the whole folder of individual PDFs in a Batch operation.

After repeating until each individual PDF was a 72 dpi JPEG, I did the same for the front cover.

Then it was simply a matter of placing all of these JPEGs, beginning with the front cover on the first page, the Cover, in Book Creator for iPad’s landscape layout. The JPEGs had to be sized, of course, to fill out the page; but, essentially, that was it. After placing all 33 PDFs, the ebook—technically an iBook, though not one created with Apple’s proprietary iBooks Author—was complete, as the sample pages below demonstrate.


Now these are just the first few pages of my “test ebook” of Mishka: An Adoption tale. My understanding is that, technically, this is actually a variant of an iBook, although it was not created with Apple’s own iBook Author app. But by opening in still another piece of free software, Adobe’s Digital Editions, it’s possible to view as an ebook on something other than an iPad. And it can be opened in atill another free app, Sigal, and saved in the .mobi format for viewing on the Kindle.

My next thought is to try repurposing a general non-fiction book, something much larger than a 32-page children’s storybook and loaded with text, an adult’s book.

Continuing Education

Add comment October 27th, 2012

It isn’t all making books and finding paying book-making projects. I really do find myself with an insatiable need to expand on the skills I already have, as well as a need to learn new skills. So as we wind down preparing for the approaching hurricane—preparations which I hope wind up much ado about not so much—I am also thinking about what work I can take with me should we evacuate to a local hotel.

Falling back to a method of organizing my thinking about work that has served me well in the past, I wrote a to-do list:

  1. blog piece on my Continuing Education
  2. read The Lost Sigil Ebook Editor Manual
  3. read Designing for Magazines
  4. read Magazine Design That Works
  5. repurpose Burleson Century as an ebook in Book Creator for iPad
  6. make an epub and then MOBI file of item 5 for Kindle consumption
  7. blog piece on the repurposing of Mishka as an ebook in Book Creator for iPad

The first item is self-explanatory, so I won’t belabor the point by discussing it … except to say that, about now at 6:55 PM EDT on Saturday, October 27 I am cautiously optimistic—call it a “hunch”—that the storm will somehow not be as bad as the potential thy are predicting. But I am also superstitious enough to worry about being cocky and daring a comeuppance that involves a really horrible weather experience.

Finding the manual I would most like for learning the ins and outs of Sigil—“a WYSIWYG ebook editor,” according to Google—required a stretch. I really wanted a printed book or a PDF that I could print. I suppose I have no complaints about reading it in the Kindle app on either my iPad or my MacBook Pro when al I am doing is reading. But once I get to working and I want it opened to refer to, that means viewing it on the laptop and working on the iPad. Or vice versa. Anyway, I still like print books, even though there’s no quibbling over the appropriateness of a book about making ebooks being an ebook.

The two books on magazine design have been beckoning for awhile. For years I have ignored magazine design in favor of books because so much of magazines are simply advertising … even articles. And years ago, the only in-house design and layout work I ever did was on display ads for a supermarket paper, leaving a bad taste about ad work.

Once I have some sense of what to do with Sigil and how to do it, I plan to plunge in with a project, making an ebook in Red Jumper Studio’s Book Creator for iPad out of the files for the print edition of Burleson Century, a book for which I created the cover and interior design and layout earlier this year.

Lastly, another blog piece, this one about the iPad ebook I already created from the children’s book Mishka: An Adoption Tale, for which I did cover and interior design and layout a few years ago.

If we’re hotel-captive a couple of days, this all this will certainly keep me busy learning some new stuff. If the electricity stays on.

Making My Way into ebook Design and Layout

4 comments March 28th, 2012

Although I continue to harbor reservations about the ability of human readers to change the look of ebooks on their e-reading devices, time has come for me to jump into ebook-making with both feet. To be sure, it gnaws at me that the typefaces I use in my print books will not make it to their e-versions, but it really is time.

So right now, in between projects and/or pieces of projects, I am beefing up my skills by extending my knowledge. First in my learning parade is Anne-Marie Concepcion’s DVD from, Adobe InDesign CS5.5 to EPUB, Kindle, and iPad. This is a fairly painless way, I am finding, to take a step-by-step tour of what you need to do to turn InDy CS5.5 files into epubs.

Of course, as often happens, one thing leads to another and I realize that I need to get up to snuff with CSS, so that I can tweak CSS definitions to adjust how ebook pages will look. The text recommended to me for CSS is HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites. I think, too, that I should brush up on my HTML. So that leads me to something lighter, a series that I had some fun with learning basic HTML years ago, Sams Teach Yourself HTML5 and CSS3 in 24 Hours. But all isn’t right enough with the world to end there. I remain stuck on the thought of how much I hate that all my design choices can be altered on an e-reader. Some ongoing discussion on Twitter and great suggestions from fellow tweeters, under the #eprdctn hashtag, led me to a number of great looking open source typefaces at The League of Moveable Type. I think their Fanwood, Linden Hill, Prociono, Clover, and Sorts Mill Goudy might be very nice text faces. Raleway, League Gothic, and Junction might just lend themselves to some great display work.

That’s how, after all this time, I am really preparing to plunge into the design and layout of ebooks. Any other suggestions most welcome.

Staying Relevant

Add comment February 1st, 2012

I do not remember the last time I made a mass upgrade of software. Back in 2005, I think it was, I got a PoweMac tower and Adobe CS2, but that’s not what I mean. It came to me the other day, however, that it is high time. So I made my plan …

I finally see the tools for making ebooks starting to show signs of maturity. InDesign CS5.5 has been available for some time. In fact, CS6 is rumored to be around the corner. But it’s Export to epub  function, I hear, works pretty well. And Apple’s iBook Author looks—from the demo I saw—like it does what I have asked for, making iPad a serious tool for multimedia ebooks.

I am going to make the move to Apple’s Lion OS. I will install iBooks Author. But since I also want to be able to create works for more than Apple’s iBookstore, the upgrade to Adobe Creative Studio 5.5 is a no-brainer.

I have needed a couple of other new versions, too, for awhile. I always like to have the latest MathType, as Design Science regularly adds increased functionality to the equation creation package; and the latest version makes equations for iBooks. I have been inconvenienced by being able to open .docx files directly in Word 2004 long enough and will also move to Office 2011.

The interesting upgrade would be to QuarkXPress 9. My last Quark upgrade was to version 7.31. A nice story goes along with that. When I worked on the children’s storybook, Mishka An Adoption Tale, some years ago, I had a bit of difficulty with the Chinese printer and fonts. I cannot quite remember what, as the fonts would have been embedded in the PDF and that should have been enough. But I wound up in extended discussions with someone in Quark’s customer relations unit, a great, young woman who helped me work out whatever the problem was.

For some reason, on top of her helping me, she decided she would send me a gift for the trouble I had been put through—none of which was Quark’s fault—and as I was a long and loyal user of XPress, since about 1990. She wanted to send me a CD of extras. I told her that was mighty nice, but that I saw the extras were not usable with my current version, 6.something. She replied that one of the perks of her job was doing nice things for people and she sent me the Quark 7 upgrade for free. Soon after, she left Quark for a dream job of some kind. And I remained a loyal XPress user until more and more clients requested I use InDesign.

I finally added InDesign to my software arsenal. Gradually it just became easier to stick with InDy. Then the other day I got an offer from Quark for a reduced price for version 9—actually, 9.2. What struck me was the inclusion of something called App Studio for making e-versions of books for the iPad. I decided to make that upgeade, too. I had until yesterday, January 31, for the reduced price, after which the cost would climb some. But I wondered whether the nearly $300 investment was worth it for just that module.

Enter Twitter and why you need to know it does not need to be a time-sink. Tweeting on my dilemma led to the information that App Studio is a third-party module available also for InDesign. For free. Now, just as with Quark, there are fees for actually publishing something with App Studio. But the upgrade to Quark … well, is superfluous.

My thanks to Twitter stalwart, gentleman, scholar, and all-‘round good guy Pariah S. Burke (@iampariah on Twitter) who saved me $299 that I can use to get an iPad2 for debugging and displaying iBooks.

A Little More On iBooks and iBooks Author

4 comments January 21st, 2012

Although I still have not updated to Lion and gotten hold of iBooks Author, I managed to read a little more about what Apple’s e-textbook initiative could mean. That has lead to a few more thoughts about Apple’s announcement this past Thursday.

For one thing, it is significant that their new app for making iBooks is called iBooks Author, rather than iBooks Designer. It appears they have no intention of opening another avenue to making ebooks more of an artform a la print books. They are targeting authors and the do-it-yourself movement, making the process easy, if not particularly imaginative or unique for each individual iBook. Of course, they have their own business interests and what I am griping about is not their concern.

I find myself in a peculiar position. I definitely remain a fan of Apple and the Apple way. But I am disappointed when I see them promoting ways and means to a one-size-fits-all ebook design mentality. Then again, I certainly have not gotten as far as investigating how much customization the iBooks Author app allows. My hope is that, for a professional book designer at least, there is a clear path away from the one-size-fits-all that many do-it-yourselfers fall into.

Apple Does iBooks … But Good!

Add comment January 19th, 2012

Today’s not unexpected announcement from Apple was about education, ebooks, making ebooks, and making iPad the platform of choice for ebooks. Great good news! I’ve been hoping for all this for some time.

When I was a student it would have been a real blessing to have all my textbooks on an iPad. For one thing, the practical advantage, I would not have had to lug around thirty pounds of books each day. Perhaps more important to me as a student, the multimedia capabilities of the iPad gives access to a wealth of additional material—photos, audio, and video. Linking to newsreel footage when studying current events would have made things a lot more interesting, for instance, as would seeing illustrations of things I was studying in, say, physics class.

And although I have not yet investigated the free authoring tool they also announced today, iBooks author, I am confident that it will prove to be the tool for making ebooks that I have been waiting for. As a book designer, my biggest complaint has been that (human) readers can change the look of  their ebooks on ereader (devices). It appears to me that an ebook created via iBooks Author will be something like an app and permanent in its presentation.

Now along with all this good stuff Apple has set off some alarms for me—again, as I am a professional book designer and page composition artist. The same way they set the price of songs on iTunes, they are unilaterally setting the price of the ebooks they will sell. None will cost more than $14.99. I admit that would have pleased me as a college student. But as someone who earns a good part of his living making books, I wonder about them setting the market this way. Will it sustain professional ebook-makers or make the process one that can only be done in an assembly line fashion at sweatshop rates?

Time will tell.

Meanwhile it seems that Apple has come up with a new reason for everyone who is a student or has one at home to buy an iPad if they do not already own one. And because iBooks Author requires Apple’s latest OS, Lion, to run, as my son-in-law tweeted today: “[I]n Macintosh-related news, @StephenTiano gets his reason to update to Lion… #ibooksauthor”. Additionally, it is time for me to replace the first-generation iPad I gave to one of my granddaughters, because I grew bored that it was only good for consuming content, rather than creating. It seems an iPad is necessary for testing and debugging ebooks created in iBooks Author.

Steve Jobs would be proud. Hell, he must have helped prepare for today’s announcement before his untimely death this past October.

New Tech and eBooks Again

Add comment April 26th, 2010

To recap: my first experience noodling at the making of an eBook left me cold. So the arrival of Adobe’s Creative Studio 4 and its direct-to-EPUB capability was welcome—even though I did not upgrade to CS4. And with the coming of CS5, an upgrade I have already ordered, I hope the InDesign-to-EPUB path is even more seamless.

That sums up my software news.

As big a development as the foregoing is, there is another, even more significant step toward the inclusion of eBook production in my repertoire: adding an iPad to my computer line-up of desktop (24-inch iMac with second, 23-inch, Cinema Display), laptop (17-inch MacBook Pro), and handheld (second-generation iPod Touch) completes my toolbox for troubleshooting eBooks.

* * *

What I wrote above should have been the beginning of a whole different piece than this is turning out to be.

Instead, my wife mentioned to me that in noodling through some of the hits that came up when she googled me earlier today, she came across an exchange I had somewhere online sometime back. Apparently I felt compelled to say repeatedly that  had no interest in eBooks, I would never make any, and would never get myself any kind of eReader.

Well, we see how that resolved itself.

“Introducing the iPad”

3 comments January 27th, 2010

Today we take a break, an interlude, and a breather from the third and final piece of What I Have Learned About Columns while I bring you the text of an email I have sent Apple Computer.

Dear Apple, Inc.:

I started doing book production work on my first Macintosh, a IIx, 17 years ago. Six Macs later, thanks to those machines and the Internet, I am a marginally famous book designer–Google “Stephen Tiano” and see. Check out both my website and my blog.

What I’m interested in are any guidelines you may have for creating eBooks for the iPad. I realize there are such, indeed, a whole SDK for app developers, but I’m not talking about creating apps. I’ve noodled some with Adobe’s epub software. But I noticed its graphic capabilities were lacking. I assume that is no longer tue, if the iPad and it’s incredible graphic capabilities are to be used to th max. So, much the same way Apple established its Human Interface Guidelines for software developers, I assume there must be some set of rules for correctly creating eBooks for the iPad.

I understand you have your agreements with some “heavy hitter” traditional book publishers. But you may or may not have noticed–I sure have the last two or three years–print publishing is in, to be kind, a state of flux. To be more to the point, it has reached a state of chaos. In this two- or three-year period, I have begun to work with more and more self-publishing author. In fact, self-publishing books seems to be the notable area of print publishing that is growing and expanding in a big way.

As I said, I have played some with creating eBooks, but my initial efforts did not satisfy me as an artist-book designer. But the iPad has me returning for another, enthusiastic look-see. I am preparing to make a pitch to self-publishing clients that Kindle/Amazon and Google are yesterday’s eBook news. Henceforth my advice to self-publishing book authors interested in publishing eBook editions is that the iPad and Apple are the market-makers here.

Has Apple given any thought to the growing segment of self-publishing book authors? Do you have any information on standards for eBooks on the iPad that you are willing to share with a professional book designer?

Thank you.


Stephen Tiano
Book Designer, Page Compositor & Layout Artist

tel. & fax: (631)284-3842 / cell: (631)764-2487
iChat screen name:
Skype: stephentianobookdesigner


I just received the following automated reply:

Message Subject: Other
Follow-Up: xxxxxxxx

That is all.

Me and MOBI, Part Two (of “eBooks and I”)

Continue Reading Add comment October 18th, 2009

Picture 2

eBooks and I, Part One

3 comments October 13th, 2009

I began this piece three or four times, going back at least two weeks ago. What I realized is that instead of whining about the demise of the printed book—a premature plaint, I hope—I should come clean with myself that I need to get comfortable with the process of turning a print-ready file into an eBook.

So I plunged in the easiest way I knew. I googled the subject and found one of Adobe’s Technical Papers, “eBooks: From Adobe® InDesign® to the Kindle Store.” This paper lays out the process pretty seamlessly.

The paper’s methodology makes it sound pretty simple actually, laying out the procedure in four steps:

  1. Export the InDesign document to the EPUB format.
  2. Convert the EPUB file to alternative MOBI filetype.
  3. Preview the MOBI file on a Kindle if you wish.
  4. Lastly, if you want to sell you eBook on Amazon, upload it to the Kindle store at

Touting, of course, Adobe’s latest and greatest, the paper advises that InDesign CS4 comes with “enhanced EPUB export features,” that preserves more of what the original InDesign document looked like. That’s the first bit of caution. Working this process by starting in InDesign CS3, as I did, you may lose the refined niceties of your document, your book. But the point of this experiment is to see about starting with an InDesign document and arriving at a file that Kindle reads.

Before I could follow the four steps above, I needed to download a piece of free software from Adobe, Digital Editions. Available on Adobe’s website—and, again: free—Digital Editions is used for the InDesign-to-EPUB translation. Next I had to get a piece of open-source—read: free—software, calibre, which is used to translate the EPUB file to the MOBI format. It is the MOBI format that Kindle reads.

And this is what the first two pages of what I got look like:



These are two fairly unadorned pages of straight text. Next up I’m going to try something with a single graphic or two. The trick with graphics, as far as I can tell, is to anchor them to the text in the InDesign document. See, when the InDesign file is translated, it goes as one long piece of text, scooting any and all graphics to the end—if I understand correctly. So anchoring graphics to the spot in the text where you want them to appear will allow them to flow with the text.

But I’ll need to see just how that works out.

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