Fixed Layout eBook Options

Fixed Layout eBook Options
At this time, there are several options for creating fixed layout ebooks. Now, the term "ebooks" has several meanings. So, in my case an ebook is any digital book, in any format, that can be viewed on a tablet, device or computer.

And because these devices are expensive, I've limited my research to developing for the iPadR, which is the only iOS device that I own. Also, my iPad is an older version, the iPad3.

I've been doing a lot of research about creating fixed layout ebooks. As of this writing, I've learned one major piece of information. If it can't be done now, wait a second and someone will find a way to do it.

Within my limitations, two options that I have found so far are the ePub3 and iBooks formats. Of course, to make an iBook you will need iBooks AuthorR, which is a free app from AppleR. With my budget, free is good. Even though you can export an ePub from iBooks Author, the ePub template in iBooks Author is not for a fixed layout ebook. My only option for iBooks Author is to disable the View as Portrait feature for the iBook.

However I felt that I should research the InDesign CS6 option and the ePub3 format. Beyond iBooks Author, you have more options for creating an ePub3, but the most popular is AdobeR InDesignR. I own InDesign CS6 and can't afford the enormous subscription prices to upgrade to the Creative Cloud. So, I won't be able to take advantage of the newer features in InDesign CC, especially the Export as ePub Fixed Layout feature. Without this new feature, we would need to make manual changes to the ePub that we create in InDesign to get a fixed layout ebook. In fact, the manual changes are quite extensive, especially if you are not familiar with HTML5 and CSS3. I decided to forgo this option for now. Although HTML5 and CSS3 allow for adding more interactivity to an ePub3 than can be achieved with iBook widgets, I'm not sure of the reliability of HTML5/CSS3 interactivity added to an ePub3, because of the numerous devices the reader my be using. So, we will leave that question open for now.

Most of the training books for iBooks Author that I could find on Amazon only cover the basics of the software and do not cover creating a fixed layout ebook. Also the latest iBooks Author training videos that I could find were from 2013. However, Apple Education has recently released an iBook entitled iBooks Author Starter Kit. As iBooks Author is not really designed for creating fixed layout picture books, this new iBook from Apple Education only covers the basics of iBooks Author.

So, I went to the web for the latest information. I found several articles with workarounds for creating a fixed layout iBook, so that was a good start. With that information in hand, I started plowing through Apple's iBooks Author Starter Kit. In the next few articles, I will summarize what I have found.

Update: iBooks Author Essential Training by Chris Mattia at Lynda.com updated 12/14/2015

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This content was written by Diane Cipollo. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Diane Cipollo for details.