Imagine being able to generate ebooks in a few hours with the help of free applications and that are already included in the Apple devices and computers you use every day.
Imagine being able to generate ebooks in a few hours with the help of free applications and that are already included in the Apple devices and computers you use every day. It is even likely that they are some of the applications you currently use for your daily work.
To write, edit and process texts, a “text processing” application is necessary, from which we can generate styles (for titles, headings, paragraphs, words, characters), add images, insert graphics, footnotes, tables of contents (thematic indices), view hidden characters, count words and much more. For all this there is Apple Pages, an application with which we will create ebooks.
This powerful application, with a short learning curve, shares its category with Google Docs, OpenOffice and Microsoft Word. The most notable differences with Word is that the latter is paid and also does not export in standard format for ebooks, also known as ePUB.
ePUB, from the English Electronic Publication, is an open source dynamic format for reading texts and viewing images, as well as audio and video from the ePUB 3 version. It is based on the web languages: HTML, CSS, JS and XML. In its structure, the content is marked, but its screen format is not delimited, which adapts to the dimensions of multiple devices, such as the different models of eReaders.
1. Getting started
The first thing we must do to generate ebooks with Apple Pages is to have the full text in an editable format: DOC, DOCX, Google Docs, Pages, RTF, TXT, etc. Otherwise, Pages will not be able to open the text and we will be unable to continue to the next step.
2. Content preparation
It is recommended that chapters of the book are all together in the same text file and, in addition, clean of multiple:
The cleaner the original source document, the cleaner the final exported result will be. For this, it is also advisable and indispensable that all texts have paragraph and character styles applied. In this way we will achieve visual uniformity and also greater efficiency in times when we need to make changes.
To clean the document, it is first necessary to identify the existence of repeated characters, using the Viewing – Show Invisible Characters command. Finally, to remove the spaces, we will use the Edit – Search command.
3. Selecting a template
When trying to export the text directly to ePUB format without first using an e-book template, we will get a publication of a poor appearance, without a table of contents, all in a single large chapter, etc.
To choose an appropriate template for books, we must create a document from the File – New menu command and then select the Books category, which is located in the left sidebar.
In this category we have two sub-categories, one is Horizontal and the other Vertical:
- Dynamic or Vertical Arrangement: in this the contents are adapted to the dimensions, orientation and characteristics of the screen of the book reader, tablet, mobile phone or laptop. This arrangement is ideal for books mainly based on text with few images or without images, for genres such as science fiction, guides, literature, manuals, novels, etc. In addition, it has accessibility features for people with low vision and dyslexia.
- Fixed or Horizontal layout: it is recommended for comics, catalogs, designs, magazines, or designs with several columns and publications that are mainly based on graphics and images. The disadvantage of this provision is that the user will not be able to change the typography, the scale of the text, the reading topics, and will not adapt to the resolution of the device or book reader. This makes it very uncomfortable for mobile phones.
For our case, we are going to choose Vertical.
4. Inserting texts and images
Once the template for the book has been chosen, we will have to insert the original text into this new document. For that we will use the famous “copy and paste” command. But instead of pasting conventionally, we are going to use the Edit – Paste with the same style command. This way, the style of the template will be maintained in the text we insert.
These steps will be used both with the title of the book, as well as in chapter names, full paragraphs, author name, etc. until the publication is completed.
If there are images, we will insert them from the Insert – Select command. Once the image has been inserted into the book, it is important to indicate a description of the photograph or graphic, so that later in the ePUB it becomes an “alternative text” and is used by assistive technologies for users with blindness, low vision, or some limitation of situation.
The description of the image is indicated from the Format panel, which is on the right.
5. Export to ePUB
Finally, it was time to export the e-book to ePUB format. This is done in a single step from the File – Export to – EPUB command.
From the Export Document dialog box, several metadata fields to be completed will appear:
- Title: This is the title that will be visible in the library of the reading system, whether it is an application or a device. Do not confuse the title of the book with file name.
- Author: the author name of the book or publication must be indicated in this field. This is also a basic and required requirement.
- Cover: we can choose that the cover or cover of the book is an external file, that it uses the first page of the document, or that it does not use any.
- Layout: as indicated above, we will choose the dynamic layout so that it adapts to any screen, resolution, orientation, is more accessible to users, etc.
- Category: here is the genre of publication (science fiction, entertainment, literature, media, novel, technology, etc.).
- Language: it must be chosen in all cases to be able to filter books by language in a search within the book store or in the application itself. In addition, it helps with reading pronunciation by assistive technologies.
6. Testing on applications and devices
Before publishing your ebooks in a store, it is essential to test the exported books in various applications, readers and devices. Each of these will interpret and show the final result with some visual and interactive variations.
On macOS we already have the free Apple Books application installed, which is the default for reading ebooks on any Mac model, whether portable (MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro) or desktop (iMac, Mac Mini, Mac Pro).
On iOS (iPhone) and iPadOS (iPad) we also have Apple Books installed to do the reading and navigation tests, before publishing.
In addition, it is recommended to test other free applications such as Adobe Digital Editions and VitalSource Bookshlelf. Both available for macOS and iOS.
In the event that adjustments and errors are found to be corrected, we will have to go back to Pages, make the changes and export again as an ePUB, until we finally achieve the expected result.
7. Distribution in retail stores
Once the book has been approved and revised from the front to the back, the last step is to publish it for distribution in retail stores such as:
- Apple Books Store
- Barnes & Noble
- Google Play Books Store
What about the Amazon store? To publish books in this mega store, we must use Kindle Previewer free application to check formatting and functioning. Keep in mind that a Kindle reader or tablet will not accept the ePUB format.
Accessible to everyone
If once the e-book is finished, we want it to be accessible to all users (people with blindness, low vision, colorblind, autistic, with physical and situational limitations, etc.), we will need to resort to an accessible ePUB development service. For this, it requires not only knowledge of HTML5, CSS3 and XML languages, but also the international accessibility guidelines also known by their acronym WCAG.
Now that you know how easy it is to create and publish ebooks through the use of existing templates, you can help many to launch their ebooks in open format and at no cost. You will also provide free access to any publication from anywhere in the world.