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Note: Part 2 of this series covers adding sound and video files to your ebook.

Ebooks are now a common part of our digital landscape. This year promises to bring a significant increase in the number of choices of tablet-like mobile devices. This is likely to only add to the astonishing growth in ebook consumption. But ebook consumption isn’t the only area that is likely to experience tremendous growth this year. It appears that ebook production has arrived for the common man/woman.

There are many advantages of this type of self-publishing for both business and educational folk alike:


  • relatively low barrier to entry
  • establish expertise in subject area
  • increasing number of distribution channels
  • multimedia potential of the ebook (epub) format
  • low overhead
  • great marketing/promotional medium
  • great educational medium

 

When you see just how easy it is to create an ebook with Apple’s Pages software, you may decide to become an author yourself.

Pages has had the ability to export to the ePub format since the release of iWork 9.0.4 in August of 2010. At that time, Pages had some rough edges when it came producing a well formatted ebook. When Apple released Pages 4.0.5 in January, 2011, it greatly improved the semantics of their ePub export. Today, with some careful attention to a few details and methods, you can create an ePub-formatted ebook.

It’s important to point out that while the ePub format works on most ebook readers (including Apple’s iBook reader) and is opensource, it is not the format used by Amazon’s Kindle reader (which uses the MOBI format). There are software tools, like Calibre, available to convert from ePub to MOBI. (I may do a post in the future going over these conversion tools and options.)

Getting Started
The best way to get started with creating an ebook in Pages is to download a template that Apple has created for making ebooks. Download it here: eBook Template

When you open this file in Pages, you’ll notice styles in the Styles Drawer that are specific to tagging an ebook. These styles are applied to the elements of your book to properly format the document for the ePub export. The pages in this document have examples of these styles applied to text and a brief description of how they should be used.

Styles in Pages

(Click on illustrations to enlarge.)

Examples of styles
Examples of styles

 

Dealing With Images
There are a few things to keep in mind as you create your book. If you will be inserting images into your book, you must make sure that you set them to be “inline” images. That is, the images flow with the text rather than independent of the text. To do that, click on the image, and in the Inspector click on the Wrap Inspector tab, then click on the Inline (moves with text) radio button. This assures that the images in your ebook stay with the appropriate text even when the ebook reader adjusts the font sizes.

Inspector

Inspector

Images can wrap in 6 different ways. You’ll need to check the Object causes wrap checkbox on the Inspector pane. Then click on one of the six illustrations below this checkbox to indicate how the image will behave in the text. The illustrations provide an efficient way of explaining how each work.

image wrap

 

Dealing With Font Sizes
I found the font sizes in this template to be too large (especially if your Titles or Heads are lengthy). This caused many of my titles in the ebook to overwhelm the page. You can test this with your own ebook, but generally I found that bumping the Title, Head, and SubHead font sizes down 10-15 pts worked well.

Testing Your eBook Along The Way
The best way to perfect the look and feel of your ebook is to export your Pages document to the ePub format and test on an ebook reader. This process is simple. I find myself going through this process several times in the creation of an ebook.

First, save your Pages document. Then, under the Share menu choose Export… This brings up a window indicating the export options.

export options

Export options

 

Click on the ePub tab at the top and then click on the Next… button. Save the epub to your computer’s desktop.

Getting The Ebook to Your Reader
There are several ways to get the ePub file to your ebook reader, but I will go over the two easiest ways.

The first is simply to email the ePub file to yourself as an attachment. Then open the email on your ebook reader device and send it to your eReader. On an iPad or iPhone, clicking on the ePub file attachment brings up a dialogue box asking if you’d like to send it to iBooks. It then sends it to iBook and opens your book for you to begin reading.

The second way is open iTunes on your computer and then drag the ePub file into iTunes. This places the file into the Books area in iTunes. Then you simply sync your iPad/iPhone to your computer and the book appears in your iBooks library.

In part 2 of this series, I will go over the specific methods for adding sound files and video files to your ebook. Stay tuned!