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Hancher vs. Hilton: ebook

2016 December 5
by Matt

I recently began some work for a new client, Pineapple Press, including an ebook edition of their upcoming Hemingway and Bimini. As a result, what would otherwise have been my third time out creating an ebook file was the fourth, instead. The requirements of their book differed a little from those for Hancher vs. Hilton, but it was a useful warm-up anyway.

In combination, I find that not a whole lot has changed since my second time out, for good and bad.

Mostly, the same styles and process I used two years ago worked again, this time. Annoyingly, that includes the complicated workaround for some elements of an InDesign-generated epub file which lulu.com does not like, even though the files are perfectly valid. At least I had the notes which I made on that workaround, which were a godsend. As a result, even with this bother, I only went through a handful of iterations before the finished version, compared with about two dozen for Cotton’s Library.

All in all, it seems like “reflowable” epub has settled down, as a format, relative to my first foray. (Apparently there is now a fixed-layout epub format also, which seems essentially like a PDF, but I’ll deal with that some other time.)

I had a few more notes in mind, I think, which I should have written down sooner; let me see, though. On the freelance project, I discovered that you can include an index in your epub. It’s kind of weird, because it displays page numbers which scarcely even apply for a (reflowable) epub, but they’re all hotlinks so it ultimately works.

Amusingly, for the first time in three books I actually had a few photos available which weren’t originally black and white. But they seem to work just the same in the epub format. I did find that InDesign CC offers some improvements for epub creation which were useful for the Hemingway book. But those improvements don’t include resolution to the lulu.com objections, so I stuck with InDesign CS6 for my own book.

Same thing with the Kindle format ebook; Amazon seems to have abandoned updates to its plug-in for InDesign, but it also still seems to work fine, so I stuck to what’s familiar for now. This was a brief process as well.

Really, at the moment the biggest note I feel like making for myself about this latest ebook outing is the remarkable number of cover files I had to create:

  • cover image for epub
  • “marketing image” for lulu.com
  • cover image for Kindle
  • skinny aspect ratio “marketing image” for Amazon

I swear that this last one was new to me, and the combined list seems just absurd, but oh well. In a broader sense, this kind of thing is not a feature of ebook publishing so much as it’s just a feature of publishing.

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