Posts in Category "Uncategorized"

InDesign to Kindle conversion guide

Today, we’re posting a how-to guide that explains how to convert eBooks authored using Adobe InDesign for compatibility with the Amazon Kindle and the Kindle Store. Because Amazon uses their proprietary AZW format, the Kindle doesn’t natively support the open EPUB standard. However, with a bit of open source software, it’s fairly easy to convert the EPUB files exported with InDesign into the Amazon-compatible MOBI format.

Converting InDesign documents for Kindle compatibility requires the following steps:

1. Export InDesign document to EPUB
2. Convert EPUB to Amazon-compatible MOBI format
3. Preview on Kindle device (optional)
4. Upload to Amazon store

For complete details, check out the Adobe InDesign to Amazon Kindle Store white paper

Sony 505A Firmware Released!

Adobe is pleased to announce, in conjunction with Sony, that Adobe Digital
Editions now supports the Sony Reader 505. On July 24th, Sony posted
the firmware updater to their website. Now people owning the Sony 505
can upgrade their Sony 505 and use it with Digital Editions.

The updater is available here:

Be sure to get the full update. You need to upgrade your Sony EBook
Library (EBL) FIRST, then should automatically download and run the
updater for your 505. Doing the steps this way ensures that you have
the right drivers for Digital Editions and the Sony Reader to
communicates with. Once you have done this, Digital Editions will
automatically recognize the Sony Reader and it will appear as a new
bookshelf (or up to 3 if you have smart cards inserted) in your library.

You will need to authorize your Sony Reader in order to use it with
protected books that you have bought or borrowed online. Note that this
also means that you will need to authorize Digital Editions if you have
not already done so. Digital Editions will walk you through these steps
with a wizard.

Once you have authorized your Reader you can drag and drop books back
and forth between your PC and your Reader. You can even read books off
of your friend’s Reader (though you cannot transfer books from his
Reader to your PC or vice versa).

The full text of the Sony press release is here:

The new Sony Reader supports display of PDF in both normal and “reflowed” modes. In the reflowed modes, the reader takes the original content and reflows it at a larger font size. The result is surprisingly good. Most books such as novels reflow almost perfectly (though the odd word will be split or two words run together). But you will find that the more complex the content, the less satisfactory the result.

EPUB is also supported by the Sony Reader and there is lots of EPUB content appearing, both public domain like and elsewhere. Most of the major publishers have also promised to support EPUB and there is a lot of content in the pipeline.

This is an exciting time and we are looking forward to being part of it.

Digital Editions Beta2 Released

Adobe is pleased to announce the release of the second Beta version of Digital Editions 1.5.

You can find it here:

The Beta is an opportunity for customers to test and provide feedback to Adobe on new features and compatibility with their digital publications.

The key feature of this second Beta release is that we have enabled the “Setup Assistant”. This walks the new user through the steps of authorizing their computer. With this assistant, you can also, optionally, decline to authorize your computer. Adobe very very strongly discourages this. We feel that you should *always* authorize your computer. More on this below.

The key feature of Digital Editions 1.5 is the addition of enhanced DRM support that provides “content portability” across computers and devices that you authorize with your Adobe ID. (Note that this portability is available ONLY if you authorize your computer).

Note: You should be aware that this beta release includes an enhanced version of DRM (Digital Rights Management) protection. If you plan on using Digital Editions for mission critical work, please consider using Digital Editions 1.0.

Key features of the enhanced DRM include:
– Ability to convert a user’s content to a “Named Authorization” license, enabling them to be backed up, copied and read on other computers or devices
– Authorization of end users’ DRM protected content with an Adobe ID (if authorized)
– Writing the secure license into the document
– Existing content is migrated to the new system and newly downloaded content is automatically converted when it is downloaded
– Content portability applies to both PDF and EPUB documents (again, only if the computer is authorized).
– Resulting documents can be copied just like any other file (if both computers are authorized)
– Documents can be opened on any computer or device which has been authorized by the owner
– The number of machines that can be authorized is controlled by the amount set by the Authorization server (up to 6 computers and 6 devices)
– We have added functionality within Digital Editions 1.5 to support mobile devices. At this time we are working hard on rolling out support for the actual devices which work with Digital Editions, which should become available later this year.
– The number of machines on which a document can be viewed is limited by the number of authorized machines, unless the document has been limited to a single machine by the publisher

Note that authorization with an Adobe ID is no longer required in 1.5, but is *strongly* recommended. If you do not authorize your computer, your content will, as in Digital Editions 1.0, be locked to the computer to which is was downloaded. Adobe feels very strongly that all users will be best served by authorizing their computers. Adobe Digital Editions does not use the ID for any purpose other than enabling portability by linking you and your books. The ID is not used for any other purpose, public or private. Please see Adobe’s privacy policy here.

Publishers and vendors should note that this release does not alter the fulfillment of ebooks so existing ecommerce workflows are not affected.

In addition to the DRM enhancement, this release of Digital Editions also
Adds support for Mac OSX 10.5 (Leopard)
– Fixes a bug in which double-byte (e.g. Asian, some European) users could not use Digital Editions
– Adds support for users whose My Documents folder is mapped to a network drive.
– Improved PDF support, including more complete support for the Adobe transparency model
– Support for named pages in PDF (e.g. i, ii, iii, etc.)
– Page map support in EPUB so that there is a mapping between the reflowed screens and the paper copy of a book
– Adds support for multiple books per ETD fulfillment
– Miscellaneous user interface improvements and bug fixes


People who write web browsers know how insanely complex a good browser has to be. The problem is that a lot of design decisions for the web were done in a very lax, ad hoc manner. There are standards, but a lot of content does not obey them. When users encounter the content which does not work in their browser, they tend to blame the browser. This leads to more and more of the “black magic” in browser engines and the web content which more and more relies on very subtle (and non-standard) features in the browsers. And any subtlety that some web content uses has to stay in the browser engines effectively forever. This hurts content portability and usability.

To avoid the same sort of problems with eBook content, it is important to make sure that the content does satisfy the standard. This is especially important to make sure that eBooks work well on mobile devices where adding special-casing to “fix” broken content might be simply too expensive. The best way to make sure that the content is standard is to develop a tool that can validate epub files.

The need for such tool was for a long time recognized by IDPF members. As we were developing epub standard, we did the work on validating epub files. Now this tool (named EpubCheck) is available as an Open Source project. It is not complete (there are still many checks that we can do), but it is already fairly mature and extremely handy. If you author epub files, you should consider running this tool on your content regularly. Standard content is much less likely to have problems in today and future eBook readers and any problems with fully-compliant eBooks are much more likely to get serious attention of the developers. If you are a developer, I would like to invite you both to use EpubChecker code in your development (it is licensed under BSD terms) and to contribute back to the project.

Page template (XPGT) file

Bob Russell asked:

What about the .xpgt file? It is possible to deduce most of it, but more complete detail would be good. (like: reducing the top margin on the first page, and interaction of column min-widths and font-size…)

And how will its operation fit with future implementation of the OPS extra CSS properties: display:oeb-page-head; display:oeb-page-foot; and oeb-column-number:[integer]; ?

Better late than never – here are some details.

Publishing DocBook content for Digital Editions

This week I was looking at the DocBook mark-up and experimented with convertion of DocBook content into ePub. There seems to be a very good fit there. I was able to create a XSLT stylesheet to transform a couple of O’Reilly-published books into ePub. Here is a sample: Greg Kroah-Hartman‘s “Linux Kernel in a Nutshell” book as ePub (IE sniffes it as zip, but it is really an epub file). Unfortunately, I only can post it with freely distributable clip art, no embedded fonts and with low-quality gif images for the illustrations in the book, so it does not look quite as good as the original (but with the right resources it is possible to make it look as good).

The XSLT stylesheet, a simple bash script that drives it and the free art that I have used can be downloaded here. If you want to run it yourself, this is what you need:

  • Find some UNIX-like environment, in particular bash, xsltproc and zip commands. I have used Cygwin on Windows XP.
  • Unzip downloaded file into some folder.
  • Copy source DocBook XML (available at the book’s web site) into that folder; main book file should be named book.xml.
  • Copy images into epub/OEBPS/images
  • Run ./
  • If everything goes right, ePub file will be written into book.epub

For this particular book you should also add author’s name and book identifier into the book source (or it will be missing from the metadata and title page). Insert the following into the book.xml after the title tag:

<isbn role=”13″>9780596510480</isbn>

I have only tried XSLT stylesheet with one other DocBook, which is certainly not enough testing; thus, I don’t think it will work with arbitrary DocBook content. If someone wants to take it from there, it would be fantastic because I won’t have time to polish it. The right thing to do is, of course, to integrate this capability into the existing XSLT framework for DocBook which is used to publish DocBook content into XSL:FO and PDF.

And, thank you, Greg for writing this book and for making the DocBook sources available!

The point of Digital Editions

Bob Russel writes:

I’d like to get a better feel for how you see Digital Editions from within the company. Not the polished formal or comprehensive and official description, but in your minds what’s the main point of it, what’s the intent, and where would you like to see it progress in the future? What sort of (realistic) hopes do you have for it’s adoption, and how can that be encouraged along?

This is a bit loaded question to ask a tech guy like me, of course. Success depends on much larger set of things than just technology alone and I’d rather concentrate on the technology.

To me the point of Digital Editions is quite clear. There are these things called books and they are not going away, even if they have to morph to fit into the digital world. Reading books today on paper is still much nicer than on an electronic device, but it does not have to be that way. We need these things to happen:

  • we have to agree on a eBook format which is open, easy to author, adapts to the reading environment form factor, but still rich enough to look good;
  • we need software which renders eBooks, so that they are pleasant to read and easy to manage; it also needs to provide new functionality that paper cannot do well (e.g., links, search and annotations – or embedded interactive content);
  • we need handheld devices which are small, easy to read from and have long battery life;
  • we need good authoring tools so that it is easy to create eBooks
  • we need publishers to treat eBooks as first-class citizens.

I think that we are getting there. PDF would have been a perfect eBook format if it could be reflowed to a small screen without quality loss, but at least it is easy to publish an existing content in it. So we had to try again. ePub, I think, as it is now, is quite good (and I think it will evolve – we need to add MathML and perhaps some extra layout and typographical features). We are, as you know, working on the software ;-). We see devices coming (e.g. Sony Reader). The hardest part is to convince publishers that eBooks are the future, but I think we can do it, maybe slowly and case-by-case, but things are moving there as well.

Bidirectional text and MathML

Ahmed Hindawi pointed out that Digital Editions does not support bidirectional text for ePub, so it is not possible to display documents that use right-to-left writing. Certainly it is a missing feature: IDPF standard for ePub mandates that support. As we internationalize the application, we certainly plan to add that as well as other features that are necessary to display Arabic (ligatures and glyph shaping). I should just point out that the fact that Flash 10 will support that does not automaticaly means that Digital Editions will get it for free, as ePub rendering engine in Digital Editions uses different pipeline for text layout.

Another point that Ahmed made is that there is no support for MathML. In the case of MathML the situation is a bit different from bidirectional text: MathML is not something that IDPF standard mandates for ePub. It is only possible to include MathML “islands” in XHTML if a fallback image is included as well and an ePub viewer is free to display that fallback image instead of rendering MathML. So when including a formula in an ePub document one has to supply either a bitmap (PNG or GIF) or vector graphics (SVG) that reperesents it. Bitmaps for formulas are used on the web quite a bit (e.g. some Wikipedia articles), but their major drawbacks are that they look bad when printed (or font size changes), they don’t reflow when width becomes small and they are unaccessible for blind. Vector graphics is basically how formulas are represesnted in PDF. This does not fully solve the accessibility and reflow problems, but they certainly can be made look as good as MathML. I think that for the time being including vector graphics image for a formula is the best bet, maybe along with a MathML island.