A PDF is easy to create and it's ubiquitous. But it's not reflowable, and it can't be sold at Apple or Amazon.
- [Instructor] Can a PDF be an ebook? You know, you ask any professional ebook developer/designer, and they will resoundingly say no, PDFs are not ebooks. Only reflowable formats, and maybe, reluctantly, fixed layout or iBooks are true ebooks. But you ask any author, or small publisher, and a lot of them will say sure. Yeah, you can make a PDF into an ebook. It's a file format that can be read on any digital device. It's not reflowable, but it's really easy for any reader to open it and read it.
And it's a digital file that can be a book. So in the interest of completeness for this title, I decided to include a chapter about creating PDF ebooks anyway. Let's look at the pros and cons. PDF ebooks, yes or no? In the yes camp, they are so easy to create. Basically any program on Mac or Windows can export to PDF. Some with more features than others, like inDesign and QuarkXpress have lots of things that you can include in a PDF. But even Word, you can automatically make bookmarks, for example, to help readers navigate your PDF ebook.
You can include any kind of design element that you can create in the originating program. You have text wrap, overlapping items, all sorts of colors, all these, when you export to PDF, are maintained faithfully. Any kind of font that you want to use, you can embed and include in the PDF, up to the license of your fonts. But I haven't encountered a font yet, well maybe one or two, in all my years of working with digital fonts, that won't allow you to embed a font into a PDF.
And PDFs can contain a certain amount of interactivity. You can include buttons in a PDF that bring people to certain pages, or that execute menu items if they're looking at it in Acrobat or Acrobat Reader. And they're very easy to read. By this I mean, just about everybody can open a PDF and read it. What about the no side? Well, you can't sell a PDF in the iBookstore. You can't sell a PDF in the Kindle Store. You may be able to add a PDF to your iBooks library, or your Kindle Library by uploading it yourself.
But you can't actually list it for sale in those stores, which is a huge blow to anybody that wants to create PDF ebooks. And because they are a frozen design replica, they're not reflowable, just like a fixed layout EPUB, they are hard to read on small screens. And lots of people these days are using tablets and smartphones to read ebooks. You can add a lot of interactivity to a PDF from Quark or inDesign or even in Acrobat itself, but that doesn't mean that people will be able to use it.
And it's a bitter blow when you get things working perfectly in Acrobat, for example, and then you open it up on the iPad, and some of the buttons don't work, and the videos don't work. So there's a small amount that works between mobile devices and what's on the desktop. You have to keep that in mind when you are creating interactive PDF ebooks. Finally, there's no way to add copy protection unless you pay a gazillion dollars a month to Adobe for their Adobe Content Server. Really, the PDFs that you send out you are relying on the people's good nature not to post to download sites where everybody can share it for free.
The most you can do is add a password to the PDF, which I'll show you in a later video. That can prevent somebody from opening it unless they have the password. Or that can prevent somebody from copying text or printing it unless they have the password. But if you search for how to unlock a PDF on a search engine, you'll see hundreds of solutions that don't cost a lot of money. So it's only very basic copy protection. As opposed to an EPUB that you might upload to the iBookstore or mobi in the Kindle Store they have very strong copy protection.
In fact it's so strong sometimes you can't even look at the same book on a different device. So PDFs are pretty wide open. Nonetheless there are a lot of PDF ebooks. If you go to your browser and you enter download our free ebook, you'll come up with, look at this, over nine million results. There are lots of people who say hey we have free ebooks. So for example I was looking for one where I didn't need to sign in or create an account. And this one, download our free ebook, here's one called Over My Head, and I'll click it.
It opens up in the browser, but I could save it to my desktop. And there's their free ebook. What every homeowner should know about replacing a roof. Also, a friend of mine, who runs a company called LensWork, it is actually a periodical, but they have a PDF version that you can pay extra for, which I've opened up in Acrobat, and it's beautiful. It has bookmarks that let you jump to different places. It is exactly what his print publication is, but more. He can include more photos, sometimes he embeds interviews with authors, so on.
Also a PDF ebook can include, as I said, a large amount of interactivity. For example, here's a Leaf and Mortar booklet or brochure where I can jump from page to page to see different items. And there's even portfolio samples. Japanese garden, return to portfolio page. And these do work if you're looking at it in the reader app on iOS or Android device. So there is life there for people who want to create PDF ebooks, and that's why I'm going to talk more about them in this chapter.
- 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