In the ePUB world, it is amazing how much bad press is given to InDesign. In fact, the coverage given to coders and developers of ePUBs matches the hype received in the media by Obama. But we won’t go there. I just received yet another posting in an author group I am in this morning. The writer stated that InDesign does not handle embedded fonts in ePUBs well. This is simply untrue. In fact, InDesign ePUB export does embedded fonts better than any other WYSIWYG page layout application. It’s the ereaders which are the problem.
The fact is that InDesign CC exports excellent ePUBs
Is it perfect? No. Is there a long way to go? Yes.
BUT: due to the fact that any experienced designer will start with a fully formatted print edition produced in InDesign, the conversion to ePUB is simple and nearly flawless once you accept the current limits. Most of these limits originate in the ereaders themselves.
- OpenType features: As far as I know there is no ereader which supports this even though CSS2 does.
- Kerning: As far as I know there is no ereader which supports this even though CSS2 does.
- Embedded fonts: The iBookstore and Kindle Fire are the only two who do among the major four [iBooks, Kindle, Nook, and Kobo] and even the Fire has problems. In addition, its Kindle app for the PC basically destroys Kindle books with embedded fonts. Other uncommon apps also do fonts well like BlueFire, but they are still a negligible portion of the market.
InDesign still has problems with anchored objects and lists
But many of them have been solved. Lists, as I posted a few days ago, are an HTML problem and InDesign’s Convert To Text option is very close to giving us a solution here. HTML lists are ugly no matter what you do because you cannot produce the interior alignments crucial to a good reading experience. InDesign’s new CTTlists come close to print capabilities once they get the custom bullet issue resolved.
New ePUB features in InDesign CC
Most of the improvements are invisible to the readers but there are three which matter to the reader a lot.
- Embedded fonts now work in iBooks: They discovered the key that iBooks needed to make this work.
- Convert to Text lists: Already covered, but this is a major improvement.
- TOC links: You can now make a TOC and place it anywhere in the book you need to do so. CC now creates anchors in the links paragraphs that are maintained however you use the TOC copy. A normal ePUB TOC is also generated.
- Linked Index: This is obviously big for non-fiction writers. The page links in the index are linked to the index markers you made in the copy and they stay live.