23 November 2015

Enhanced ePub Fixed Layout Ebook

By Amanda Greenslade, Managing Director

After publishing over 300 Australian authors I am now a new children’s book author myself. My first book is called Myra and the Magic Motorcycle: Book 1—The Business in Bermuda. In this blog article I will share why we designed it the way we have, especially the fact that it’s an enhanced epub designed for Apple devices.

Myra Book 1 is a 48-page, full-colour children’s book that was illustrated by Glen Holman, one of my employees. We designed and published this book in print and ebook through my business Australian eBook Publisher.

It was designed first and foremost as a fixed layout epub, as a lot of children’s books are. Fixed layout means it has a fixed page design so it doesn’t reflow to fit the screen. Children’s picture books tend to require this technology because the position of the text over the top of the images or in precise locations is critical. The difference between Myra Book 1 and most of the other children’s picture books available on Apple is that many of these ebooks have just been converted from their print edition.

As a mother of two children aged under six, I found it was frustrating to have to zoom in to see the words, or being unable to make out all the images because the pages wouldn’t fit exactly to the size of the iPad.

With Myra Book 1 we used enhanced epub technology, which is primarily supported on Apple iOS. Enhanced epub for Apple can include audio, video and interactive Javascript. Myra Book 1 includes sound effects and an audiobook version embedded into the fixed layout children’s book. This is called “Media Overlay”. The words get highlighted as it is read.

Myra and the Magic Motorcycle was designed specifically for tablets, so the text size is optimised and readable without having to zoom at all. This project was managed by Australian eBook Publisher from start to finish. To put it simply the steps in this process were:

  1. I wrote the book and engaged 4 editors to polish it
  2. One of my illustrators did the artwork
  3. I did the layout and design for the ebook (optimised for iPad5)
  4. Once I had the interest of a wholesaler, who agreed to purchase 1,000 copies, I decided to print the book
  5. I did the layout and design for the print edition (smaller page size than the ebook)
  6. I arranged printing through my printer in Singapore
  7. One of my Publishing Coordinators arranged ebook conversion and distribution
  8. I arranged marketing, including sales sheet, media releases, reviews, and author events
  9. The book was launched on September 10, 2015

The print edition has a different page size, solely because my distributor felt that it wouldn’t be suitable as an advanced reader. The print edition is a smaller size to the iPad edition; if you look closely within the printed book you’ll see the images are slightly cropped compared to the iPad edition.

It is difficult to design a book just right for both print and fixed layout ebook editions. A bit of flexibility will often be required in the illustrations and layout.

Part of the influence behind this project was that I wanted to publish one of my own books—this is my very first publication—but another reason was that I really wanted to just test out what we can do with a fixed layout book designed especially for the iPad.

I feel like its early days for children’s ebooks, perhaps because most parents—including myself—prefer to read from the actual hard copy book. And if we’re using the iPad then all those exciting apps, videos and websites are a stronger draw than iBooks. That is one of the reasons why I decided to produce Myra both in print and ebook.

In particular I wanted the ebook edition to be designed especially for tablets—and not back the other way, like it was just an afterthought—and even though it may not have huge success in terms of sales, this has been a really awesome project that will show people what is possible, what is the right way, what is the best way, to approach ebook design for fixed layout children’s books.

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Customer Feedback

"I have really appreciated your support with my book, Amanda. I'm sure your other clients are of the same opinion. Quality professionalism is never in over supply, neither is generosity of spirit. You have both."—Henry Grossek, radio announcer and author of Game On: Building the Education Revolution

"Thank you, Australian eBook Publisher. I am delighted with the quality of the print edition of my novel, Beast-speaker. The service that Amanda and her team provide is exceptional: friendly, helpful and everything is delivered within the promised time-frame. The print on demand package is easy and affordable, and I highly recommend it to anyone considering publishing with Australian eBook Publisher, Greenslade Creations."—W. A. Noble, author of Beast-speaker

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info@australianebookpublisher.com.au

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We also trade as Greenslade Creations and PublishMyBook.Online

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