Publish eBook with InDesign

There seems to be increasing interests in eBook in my conversation with teachers. I have recently started experimenting with publishing eBooks using InDesign. The process was easier than I thought. Yes, there are some guidelines to folllow, like how to layout images and text, how to create chapters and TOC, etc…The docs at: are excellent reference materials.
I then tested and published a sample eBook in EPUB format. It displayed well in my laptop running Adobe Digital Editions. And when I connected my HTC Touch Pro 2 phone which runs Windows Mobile 6.5 to the laptop, the Digital Editions let me sync (copy) the eBook onto the phone. The phone comes with the HTC eReader which registered the eBook and displayed it perfectly! Wonderful.
Updated: I have been testing with the various settings in InDesign CS5 and found that you don’t have to create books to have chapters appear in new page. The TOC settings at the EPUB dialog let you specify each chapter to appear in a new page. So one InDesign CS5 doc will do.

6 Responses to Publish eBook with InDesign

  1. Since you’ve brought up ePub and InDesign, I’ve got a couple of questions, although the first will probably be answered at the Adobe press conference next week, and you’ll probably beg out of the second.
    First, will InDesign CS5 do a better job of creating quality ePubs? Putting every chapter into a separate document to get a table of contents isn’t my idea of easy or powerful. Even low-end word processing programs don’t require that sort of clumsiness.
    Second, is Adobe working on a stand-alone product that’s intended to create top-quality ePub files, adapting as the standard improves from its present woeful state into something that might actually be useful for something other than Jane Austin novels?
    Keep in mind that InDesign is a page layout program. Pages are an essential element in how it works. Ebooks and ePub don’t have real pages, so trying to combine the two in one product is a bit like trying to use a two-seat sports car as a moving van. What’s needed are two products, each excellent in its field, that can exchange content and structural essentials (such as chapter titles, indexing entries, footnotes and links to graphics) without bringing along any descriptive baggage that makes no sense in the other’s format.
    I’ve been looking long and hard at creating ebooks and have a Tolkien-related one that’s already in Apple’s iBookstore. But I despair of creating books that are up to the standards that InDesign can produce in print. The ePub standard itself lacks the power or finesse, and no non-beta software on the market is designed from the ground up to create quality ePub books. I have no interested in learning to do XML and CSS coding.
    Personally, I think the entire digital publishing market is in a mess. Senior publishing executives seem clueless about the issues and fretting over piracy and prices. Consumers seem so taken with new gadgets such as the Kindle and iPad, that they’ve yet to notice that what they’re viewing is ugly and too simple for anything but novels. Adobe seems more taken up with DRM and distribution mechanisms than in document creation. I’d hoped Apple would do better with the iPad, but iBooks is no better at displaying ebooks than a dozen or more small iPhone apps.
    In short, what’s Adobe doing to make ePub a viable way to publish quality ebooks? What is it doing to make it possible to create ebooks that are as attractive and richly structured as print books?
    And no, by richly structured, I don’t mean the ability to embed audio, video or Flash animations into ebooks. If I go fishing, I want to go fishing. I don’t want a symphony orchestra on the far river bank to entertain me. That’s just a distraction and a nuisance. And when I read, I want to read. Graphics and pictures to illustrate what I am reading are fine, but I don’t want to be distracted by other, radically different media. If I want video, I’ll get a DVD not an ebook. And I think I’m not alone in that.

    • Lisa says:

      Having no interest in learning XHTML and CSS is a mistake. The media that the InDesign print file is converted to IS XML and CSS controls the look of it. If you get to know the code, you can see how easily the conversion can be made to improve, and quickly. In fact, there is a program to use already to make any necessary adjustments. It’s called Dreamweaver. This might not make you happy, but basically the readers and cellphones that use the epub to display the book is basically a glorified webpage. InDesign has the technology to help with the TOC so that there are links.
      I am currently on a project to convert a very richly designed magazine into an epub, and the way they will be read are completely different. I don’t mind the learning process in order to do the conversion, it’s like any new medium you learn to work with. Taking the time to learn it just means you are serious. I would rather weed out the weekend desktop publishers and Sunday artists from the professionals anyway. The only thing I am disappointed in so far is that there are good conversion videos for CS4, but they should have the updated CS5 equivelents right away. Epublishing prompted me to move from CS3 to CS5 so I could learn how and there are some differences btwn CS4 and CS5.

  2. Brian Chau says:

    Mike, You don’t need to setup separate docs (books in InDesign term) to make the table of content. However, making them as separate books mean that each chapter will display in a new page when viewed in an eReader. Second, InDesign is more than a page layout program. That’s why the InDesign welcome page let you create not just document, but also Book. Personally I like the idea of being able to leverage my knowledge in InDesign and my work done on the book so far and be able to publish right into eBook, without having to go through yet another program just to publish into eBook. EPUB is no doubt great for novels. But don’t forget that there are other formats to suit different needs: PDF and Flash. There are great examples on both in our websites. The WIRED magazine using AIR (Flash outside the browser) shows the versatilty when it comes to epublishing.

  3. Lisa says:

    Again, I must comment that the how to pages provided to learn the epub conversion should have been updated seeing that CS5 is supposed to be even easier than CS4. There are differences and those documents do not explain how to get into the XHTML and CSS files to make changes.

  4. lisa says:

    I am trying to create an ebook using indesign from a PDF. When I open the PDF in inDesign I can’t edit it. Am I overlooking something very basic here? What format should content be sent in for publishing using inDesign?

  5. Manish Rai says:

    Definitely ebook’s are the future of reading,more people will use them more cheaper they will become,when we can manage human intelligence on silicon chip cutting trees is a useless concept,we must use new avatar of books more and more to save the endangered ecology,we are also very excited about digital publishing, and definitely indesign will play an important role in giving it books more beauty, we are very hopeful for more improvements.