InDesign to iPhone via ePub

February 5, 2009 - 2:00am ||| 1 Comment | Add new

Did you know that you can make your InDesign documents appear on an iPhone as though the user was reading your publication on an Amazon Kindle? For free? Today?

Picture it: The user wants to read your publication on their iPhone. On the phone, the user sees its title appear in a list of other books they've downloaded. User taps the title, and there's your book cover. User taps the book cover, there's the table of contents. User taps one of the TOC entries. Text from page 1 flows into the screen, user taps, screen flows to next "page" of text, pictures and all, user taps, and so on. Navigation buttons let them jump to chapters, save bookmarks, go back and re-read something.

How? In InDesign, go to File > File Info and give your document some metadata, even if it's just the title. Then in CS3, choose File > Cross-Media Export > XHTML/Digital Editions; or in InDesign CS4, choose File > Export for Digital Editions. If you want to export an entire book, choose the Export to Digital Editions command from the Book panel menu.

Accept the default choices in the Export dialog box for now and click the Export command. You now have an ePub version of the document. An ePub is a "reflowable" format, sort of like a very long HTML page that rewraps when you resize the window.

To see what it will look like on an iPhone or iPodTouch, download LexCycle's free Stanza desktop application, version 1.0, for Windows or Macs:

(Stanza is also the name of the free iPhone/iPod Touch application, now in version 2.0, that users download from the App Store and use to read thousands of DRM-free books in ePub and other formats.)

Install Stanza on your computer, run it, and use its File > Open menu to open the ePub you just created. There you go. 

Now, it's very likely that the InDesign file—or the ePub file itself—needs some tweaking for the best possible presentation in Stanza/iPhones, but that's another topic. I just want to give you the broad strokes here. [Edit: Most formatting and images are purposely stripped out in the Stanza desktop app preview, so don't freak out—use the Stanza iPhone/iPod Touch app to really see it. More info here. —AMC]

Keep an eye on (the blog I co-host with David Blatner) and InDesign Magazine at, which I'm sure will cover the topic more thoroughly in the near future, or of course (plug) info [at] senecadesign [dot] com (contact me at Seneca) for some training/consulting.

If you go to the Stanza site I linked to above, you'll find tons of helpful content, including FAQs, a forum, and links to thousands of ePubs, many of them free.

Or if not free, then inexpensive, such as David Pogue's "iPhone: The Missing Manual," only $4.99 for the ePub edition, and which I'm betting was originally laid out in InDesign.

ePub version of iPhone: The Missing Manual

Oh, and here's a tidbit I found buried on the LexCycle site. If you upload an ePub to your web site, you can create a link to it that will automatically download it to Stanza's library on the iPhone or iPod Touch user's device (assuming they were using the device to browse your web site). Just use "stanza://" instead of "http://" as in "stanza:// new_book.epub". Neat!

Digital Editions and XML

Adobe, not surprisingly, also has a lot of content and resources for publishers interested in the Digital Editions format, for people interested in getting their pubs into iPhones and way beyond.

For example, textbook publishers who need to provide their publications in NIMAS format will be especially interested in a new option in InDesign CS4's Digital Edition Export dialog box. Instead of the default XHTML format, you can choose DTBook as the ePub's underlying format.

DTBook uses the same DAISY vocabulary as what NIMAS is based upon, and according to Adobe, "DTBook content in an ePub should have all the elements required for a NIMAS submission."

If I just lost ya, don't worry. ;-) Just know that Adobe, in its efforts with the Digitial Edition feature, has made some strides toward satisfying publisher's XML needs. And that's a very very good thing.

For more information on what you can do with InDesign's Digital Editions, see:

Digital Editions Live Help page

Adobe's Digital Editions blog


Comments (Subscribe to Comments RSS)

1 November 11, 2010 - 9:47pm by lzkim (not verified):

Thanks for the information… Excellent…

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