This week I have been researching how to create eBooks for the iPad so they can sit within the iBooks App on the device. By releasing materials as eBooks on the iPad users can take advantage of the features iBooks offers, such as highlighting important information, bookmarking, zooming images and making annotations in the margin for later use.
iBooks for iPad uses the .ePub format which is a free and open e-book standard. However I have found it a little tricky to create this format with everyday software. Most of the materials we create at Technology Enhanced Learning, University of Plymouth (for print and PDF design) are built with Adobe InDesign and luckily it does come with the ability to export your documents as .ePub, however I have found that you don’t always get the intended results and there will be random things such as the front cover not showing when viewing the Table of Contents. Annoying.
So after a little more research I came across an open source program called ‘Sigil‘, which is a simple, easy to use multi-platform WYSIWYG eBook editor designed to edit books in ePub format.
When creating eBooks you are creating something that is very linear with resizable text and flowable pages, and this is what I like about Sigil because you are developing the content of the eBook also in a linear fashion. When exporting .epubs from InDesign you are creating a linear eBook from a piece of software that is used to creating very nonlinear pages, sometimes with multiple columns, layers and overlapping images. This can create some annoying and most of the time unpredictable hurdles that you will have to jump over. Sigil avoids this and for me made life a lot easier. Plus its open source and free. Nice! Also it is possible to export .epubs from Pages (helpful if you are a mac user) but the reviews are mixed and I have never tried it. We have it on order so I will be able to report this at a later date. Again another program is BBedit but if you are trying to put in images it can cause issues as it is mainly a text editor, but it does support the .ePub folder structure (eg. ‘Text’, ‘Styles’, etc ).
Soon I’ll be publishing a post on how I found using Sigil and some of the work arounds you have to include in order to produce a solid transferable eBook in the .ePub format.