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Moving poetry book from print to e-book

I have a book of poetry ready to go in print.  I’m thinking about making it available as an e-book also.  The layout is complex, with many of the lines indented to show the rhyme scheme. 

It would be easiest to create an e-book using the PDF I can export from InDesign; no reformatting needed.  I am able to read such PDFs on my iPad using a couple of different readers (iBooks and GoodReader), and I assume that there are similar apps for Android tablets.  I don’t own any dedicated e-book readers such as the Kindle or Nook.  I believe one can load PDFs into them, but would appreciate confirmation of this.

The Knowledge Base article on publishing e-books in PDF says that PDF e-books can be sold only on Lulu.com and cannot have an ISBN.  Is the latter true even if one supplies the ISBN? This seems like an unfortunate limitation.

If I decide to convert to EPUB, I have some questions since I have never worked with that format before.  I’ve read the articles here and understand about using styles to create the e-book TOC and so forth.

I can export the text from InDesign into Word format.  It’s set up now to use tabs to indent the lines of verse.  Does EPUB handle tabs well?  In other words, if I have a style called Poem_line with tabs at .25”, .5”, and .75”, will the indents display properly or does EPUB not work this way?

If tabs don’t work, does EPUB respect paragraph indentations?  I could create a style Poem1 that is flush left, another Poem2 that is indented .25”, another Poem3 indented .5”, and so forth.  This would be a lot more work but I could do it if necessary.

Finally, it appears that the Kindle does not support EPUB.  So if I wanted the book on Amazon I’d have to use another tool (CreateSpace, I suppose).  Is that right?

Thanks!





Comments

  • For the PDF with an ISBN, we can't apply the ISBN. This means you wouldn't be able to submit the PDF through our distribution network - largely because many ebook retailers won't accept a PDF from us. You can still use an ISBN, but in our database, the ISBN will not be connected to the book. You would have to make that connection through the ISBN provider.

    If you think converting to EPUB might be the right choice, you can use style based formatting to achieve most of the look you're after. Indents are tricky because Word does not handle them terribly well. This is an option and I've created some very complex EPUBs from Word, but not without significant headache.

    I suggest trying to just export an EPUB from InDesign. I've only done this a few times and with fairly simple layout designs, but the EPUB InDesign generates has always worked well for me. There are some important elements to get right, like setting up a table of contents and including the publisher/publication date in the metadata, but it will likely end up being easier than creating a DOCX and reformatting to achieve an EPUB friendly file.

    Lastly, if you get an EPUB ready and publish with Lulu, you can submit it to Amazon and we'll run a conversion to their file type for Kindle.

  • Thank you for the detailed response, Paul.
    Indents are tricky because Word does not handle them terribly well.
    Not quite sure what you mean by this.  Word has lots of options regarding indents (hanging, whole paragraph, etc.) but they work if you know how to use them.
    This [using Word] is an option and I've created some very complex EPUBs from Word, but not without significant headache.
    Very helpful to know.  I used to teach classes in Word, so I know it pretty well.

    I will try exporting an EPUB directly from InDesign (thanks for the link!).  The TOC may be a major issue but I will look at it.  I assume the fixed format rather than the reflowable would be better in my situation.
    Lastly, if you get an EPUB ready and publish with Lulu, you can submit it to Amazon and we'll run a conversion to their file type for Kindle.
    Ah!  I had no idea about this -- sounds very helpful.


  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Thank you for the detailed response, Paul.
    Indents are tricky because Word does not handle them terribly well.
    Not quite sure what you mean by this.  Word has lots of options regarding indents (hanging, whole paragraph, etc.) but they work if you know how to use them.

    Indeed. Simply set them as a default in the Paragraph defaults.

    This [using Word] is an option and I've created some very complex EPUBs from Word, but not without significant headache.
    Very helpful to know.  I used to teach classes in Word, so I know it pretty well.

    It more or less does what many self-publishers require. There's no real need to buy the bells and whistles Adobe products.

    I will try exporting an EPUB directly from InDesign (thanks for the link!).  The TOC may be a major issue but I will look at it.  I assume the fixed format rather than the reflowable would be better in my situation.
    Lastly, if you get an EPUB ready and publish with Lulu, you can submit it to Amazon and we'll run a conversion to their file type for Kindle.
    Ah!  I had no idea about this -- sounds very helpful.

    I stopped using Lulu to publish epubs to Amazon because the convertor to MOBI seemed to mess it up in some manner. Now I publish to 'kindle' direct using a docx, and use Lulu for everything else.
  • Thank you for the detailed response, Paul.
    Indents are tricky because Word does not handle them terribly well.
    Not quite sure what you mean by this.  Word has lots of options regarding indents (hanging, whole paragraph, etc.) but they work if you know how to use them.
    Sorry, what I meant is that our DOCX to EPUB converter doesn't handle indents from Word very well.
  • I saw in another thread that non-reflowable EPUBs are not accepted anywhere except Lulu and iBooks (no Amazon).  That's a serious limitation and puts the kibosh on the idea of exporting an EPUB directly from InDesign to preserve the poetry formatting.

    Now from Paul's comment it seems that indents aren't reliable.  In my original post, I asked about tab stops as well as indents.  Do tabs work in EPUB?  Not many options left for indenting the lines of poetry.

    Also, the Complete eBook Creator Guide says in ch. 4 that "they [3 heading styles + Normal] are the only ones recognized by our converter" when importing from Word.  Yet in Ch. 6 there is a section on creating new styles, which seems to contradict the statement that only Normal is recognized.   Can someone clarify?

  • Creating a new style works so long as it uses Normal as the base. Heading 1, 2, and 3 can be used likewise, though I don't recommend it.

    Just using the "tab" key to create an indent will be removed when creating an EPUB, but if you modify the Normal style (or create a new style based on Normal), you can create a first line indent which will generally work. The trouble can be that EPUBs can be read on a variety of screen sizes. While the style formatting is retained, the ereader may not display it if the device's settings tell it not to or it determines it won't display well.

    Fixed layout is a problem, as many retailers won't accept them from us. I have exported a reflowable EPUB from InDesign without a problem and it uploaded just fine.
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