Learn about what makes a digital document an ebook, and how the term is a generic name for different types of ebooks, such as reflowable or fixed-layout EPUBs, PDFs, or iBooks. There are also books and magazines that are apps, but those aren't considered ebooks.
- [Instructor] When people say ebook, it could be referring to any number of file formats that let you read a book on a computer. It's a very generic term. If a client or an author says to you, "How much would you charge to make me an ebook?" or, "Do you know how to make ebooks?" You've got to pin them down a bit. What exactly are they talking about? One format might take you just a minute to create, another one might take you a few days to create. So let's start out by looking at the different kind of file formats that you think of or that could be an actual ebook.
First let's look at a couple authoring programs, so I have this book called "Guide to English Cotton Gardens" that we'll be using throughout the course, and here it is existing as a manuscript in Microsoft Word. This, of course, is not an ebook, because an ebook is a file that you can read in a free ereader or on an ereader device like a Kindle or an iPad. You would need Microsoft Word running to open this so this is not an ebook. Similarly, InDesign, here's the same book that's been flowed and formatted into Adobe InDesign and you don't need Adobe InDesign to create ebooks but because InDesign is very popular among publishers, a lot of people are using InDesign to create ebooks.
Again, this is not an ebook itself, this is just the source material. So let's actually talk about ebooks. A very simple one, that I think most people are familiar with, would be a PDF. I have exported this English Cotton Gardens file to a PDF and you can read it in Acrobat Reader or Acrobat or any number of PDF viewers, both Kindles and iPads can open up PDFs and let you read them, and you can sell them yourself on your website.
Now, the problem with PDFs as ebooks, though, are that, first of all, they can't be sold in the Kindle store or the Apple iBook store, we'll get into that later, now also, though they look beautiful, they're very hard to read on a small screen because there's no way for me, for example, to make the type larger unless I just zoom in, and here I'm zooming in by pressing Command or Control +, which means that it doesn't look right on a very small screen. But, those are being sold as books, as ebooks. That's PDF. I think though that what most people think of as an ebook is actually the epub file format.
Here I can jump to iBooks, which is the default ebook reader on Macs and iOS devices, and I'll go ahead and open up a reflowable epub book. Reflowable means that here I can actually change the type size. And there, depending on your ebook reader, there's different places where you would access this. If you're making the type smaller and you see that the text reflows to fit the same amount of space. I could open this up in a very small screen, and I would still be able to read the type.
And I could change the size of the type to fit more or fewer words in here. I can jump to the table of contents, jump around the book, so it's very simple to read. I can also just change the size of my screen here, and you can see how it's reflowing. Similarly to a reflowable epub is what you see when you get a book on the Kindle. I've converted the book to Kindle format which is called a mobi format, dot M-O-B-I. And here this mobi book also lets me change type size, change fonts and it reflows as I change.
I'm using the Kindle reader for the Macintosh to show you this, but this is what it would look like on an actual Kindle device as well. And I can jump to the table of contents here, which brings me around the book, and I can move back and forth in the book, as usual. That's a reflowable eupb. Now there's another kind of epub called a fixed layout epub, and I have a couple open here in my iBooks app. A fixed layout epub like this "English Cottage Gardens" ebook, as a fixed layout ebook.
Fixed layout means that every page looks exactly as it did in the source application, which was InDesign in this case. And you might notice that, hey, this looks a lot like the PDF, and that's true. You can still select text, though, even though it looks a little stuttery, this works perfectly fine. Probably though, you would not use a fixed layout epub for something that has so much text. Because, like a PDF, you can't change the size of the type so it's very hard to read on small screens.
But they're much more often used for kids books, like this one, "The Little Red Hen" where there is not a whole lot of text and it's really important for the text and the images to be placed in a certain manner. You can't get that with a reflowable epub. Also, with fixed layout epubs, you can add some animations and some interactivity, like little flying chickadees, and ones that appear out of nowhere. And then, finally, one more kind of ebook is only for the Apple platform, and it's called iBooks, and it's created with this program called iBooks Author, so I'm giving you a peek into what iBooks Author looks like but you read them in iBooks just like any other epub, so I'll close this up, and here is that book, opened up in iBooks, now what's special about iBooks is that it is fixed layout when held in landscape mode on your iPad or your phone, but if I flipped it around it would be reflowable.
Also, with this kind of book, you can include some sort of interactivity, so here, for example, I can click inside here and say, oh, look at that, so this is called an interactive image. There's all sorts of fun interactivity that you can add to the iBook, and that's dot iBook is the extension for these kind of ebooks. But, as I said, it's only available for the Apple platform, you can only create them on a Mac and you can only sell them in the iBook store, you can't even sell them from your own website. Still, there are a lot of textbooks and interactive kids books done with Apple iBook Author is the name of that program.
So I think that you saw that we have a great variety of different kinds of ebook formats and we'll be looking closely at all of these in this title.
- Finding, downloading, and reading free ebooks
- Choosing the right format for your ebook
- Building reflowable EPUBs and fixed-layout EPUBs
- Using tools like Word, Sigil, calibre, Jutoh, Pages, PubCoder, and InDesign
- Adding animation and interactivity such as clickable buttons
- Creating ebooks for the Kindle
- Learning the pros and cons of PDF ebooks
- Creating reflowable and multitouch ebooks with iBooks Author