EBooks are the coming wave of publishing, if in fact that wave isn’t already upon us, so I was eager to get hold of a really promising tutorial book I had heard about, “EPub Straight to the Point: Creating ebooks for the Apple iPad and other ereaders” by Elizabeth Castro. Unfortunately after reading it I have some mixed feelings. I would still recommend the book to those interested in self-publishing ebooks, but I do have a few hesitations.
My biggest issue with the book, and not that there is any actually problem – the book isn’t bad or is wrong or anything like that, is that the book just doesn’t go far enough. A couple of examples of this: first we will start with the title. The title states, “creating ebooks for the Apple iPad and other ereaders.” What doesn’t make sense to me about that is the fact that the iPad is not the number one ebook reader. That honor belongs to Amazon’s Kindle. I am truthfully not sure where the iPad ranks after that, but regardless, as eBook readers go, the iPad isn’t the most targeted platform. So, you would think that you would want a how-to book that was aimed at publishing ePub books to the dominant platform. Instead it seems that the book, and the title, were designed to grab key word searches.
The other example of this is that the book is designed around teaching you how to use Microsoft Word to generate your ePub. Now I will make no claims that Word isn’t the number one wordprocessing program and tool for writers, but it isn’t the necessarily the main tool for creating ePubs. Castro also covers using Adobe’s InDesign software for eBook creation, but she even admits that the software is costly and cumbersome. But other software that is freely available, such as Calibre, that is much more adept at creating ebooks and is much more frequently used aren’t discussed. Calibre doesn’t get any mention in the book – not even a footnote! This is a glaring omission that can’t be overlooked.
Another area I would like to see addressed is what to do with your eBook once it is created. At least a chapter devoted to getting your book into the Amazon Kindle store, perhaps on to iTunes, and maybe even released for sale on your own website would be great. Most people create eBooks not for the fun of it, but because they want to sell them. That need should have been met head on.
Finally, and the author can in no way be blamed for this, the book was outdated as soon as it was published. The technical specs that are talked about are still fine, but software changes too rapidly. Apple recently announced that their Pages program, part of the iWork suite, can now natively produce ebooks. There is no way the author could have known this, but it shows how quickly the field is changing and just how quickly a printed book can become out-dated. The book in itself could be considered an argument for ebooks! Oh, and yes, it is available in the Kindle format.
So, the end result? This is a good book to read for the background of producing ePubs and for those dedicated to Word or InDesign. I would recommend that while reading it or immediately after though, you hit the web and do some research on other creation tools and what changes have taken place since the book was published. The field is changing too fast and there are too many emerging products to not perform your due diligence.