ePub


Kindle Fixed Layout for iPad

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

If you are design-oriented, you want to have total control over how your layout looks when it is viewed on an electronic device. For this you use a fixed layout format. With fixed layout, your images display in the background and your text sits "on top" using absolute positioning.

One reason for using Amazon's Kindle fixed format (referred to as the Children's book format) is the fact that the book you produce can be viewed on any device having the Amazon reader application. This includes the iPad. Also, Amazon's Previewer application makes it easy to preview what your book will look like when viewed on the Kindle Fire and eInk devices.

Previewing for iPad

Even though Previewer has Kindle for iOS listed as a Device for preview, this only applies to dynamic format books. So how do you preview what your fixed layout book will look like on the iPad? The answer is, you don't. So you wait, and pray until your book is actually published. Then, you can view your book.

The Bottom Line: 

  1. Take the risk, and hope your book will be OK when it gets on the iPad (and chances are it will). If not, you can update your book to make whatever changes are needed.
  2. Convert your Kindle ePub to an iPad fixed layout ePub and preview live on your iPad. There is a fair amount of hand work needed to do this, but it can be done. The steps for doing this will be covered in next week's blog.
  3. Decide to publish your Kindle book through Amazon and publish an iPad version through Apple. This gives you the greatest amount of flexibility in that your iPad book can support any number of widgets. But it also limits your options for publishing as you will not be able to enroll your book in KDP Select. (When you enroll in KDP Select, you cannot distribute your book in digital form for any other distribution for a pre-determined period of exclusivity. See http://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/KDPSelect.)

Publishing an iPad Version

If you do decide to publish an iPad version (by not electing to use KDP Select or by waiting until the pre-determined period of exclusivity has lapsed), you then have several options.

  • First you need to sign up for an Apple Books Account (a Paid or Free account is available). See https://itunesconnect.apple.com/WebObjects/iTunesConnect.woa/wa/bookSignup.
  • Next you need to decide if you want to publish your fixed format book "as is" or add more capability. To offer the book "as is" (the same as your Kindle book) you will need to make a few changes to your Kindle version. The extent of what will need to be done depends on how you set your Kindle book up. This will be covered in next week's blog.

Adding Functionality

As long as you are going to the trouble of signing up with Apple and going through their publishing process, you might as well add more functionality to your book. For this you have three options:

  1. Hand-code. Not really an option for most users.
  2. Use InDesign's DPS Single Edition. If you are an InDesign user and you have a Creative Cloud membership, this is definitely the way to go. You can easily add interactivity, videos, and animation to your iBook publication. Your Creative Cloud membership allows you to create as many books as you want (for iBook only) at no extra cost. What I like about this option is that InDesign is scriptable. Once I have my resources prepared, I can use a script to create a book for me automatically complete with alternate layouts (for horizontal and vertical orientation).
  3. Use Apple's iBook Author. This is one heck of an application for creating iBooks, but it is for Macintosh system 10.7.4 or later. And, it is not scriptable. (Once more, Apple dropped the ball by not opening the architecture for one of its applications to its own scripting language--AppleScript.) On the other hand, iBook Author is template-based which makes it an easy application for the novice user. Drag and drop your images on to page template placeholders and add text. Add widgets as needed for video, slideshows, and what have you. You can even use animations created in Edge Animate.

So there you have it. No magic bullet, but lots of options all of which include a small learning curve.

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