Writing an e-book about e-books for fun and no profit: Feb 1-14, 2012

Have you written an e-pub?

Have you written an e-pub?

by Richard Schwier -
Number of replies: 19

Have you ever written an e-pub?  If so, what was the most enjoyable part of the experience for you?  What was the most frustrating part of the experience for you?

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Kirk Kezema -

I recently have created my first e-pub book using an app called Book Creator on my iPad.  The process was very simple and entertaining.  The app allowed me to easily add images from my iPad library or capture new images using my iPad camera.  I was then able to enter text and add audio or voice to the book.  When the book was complete I saved it and published it to iBooks.  It now sits on my iBooks shelf available to read (or listen) whenever I feel the desire.  Another neat feature is that I can send it to people through email.  It asks if they want to view it in iBooks and then sends it to their shelf to view.  This whole process was quite simple and my four year old daughter is now completing her first e-pub book, focusing on learning her ABC's.  I see this process so intuitive for elementary level children.

In reply to Kirk Kezema

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Richard Schwier -

Thanks, Kirk, and thanks for showing me your book!  Could I persuade you to share it here? It's a nice example--love the way you used sparse text, but heaps of photos with an option to have the pages read to you.

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Kirk Kezema -

Sure I will share it.  Had to figure out how to share an epub from my iPad :-).  Hopefully this works.

In reply to Kirk Kezema

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -

Unfortunately I was unable to open it?

In reply to Deirdre Bonnycastle

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Kirk Kezema -
How did you go about trying to open it? I have only viewed it on my iPad but not sure how else it can be accessed.
In reply to Kirk Kezema

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Richard Schwier -

I've used Adobe Digital Editions on my desktop.  I think it is free, but not sure. 

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by LaDonna Coy -

Hi Richard, I have not taken the leap into epubs but have been wanting to for some time.  I have taken a few first steps, looking into them and hoping to learn how and to actually produce one this spring.  One thing I'm curious about is the images, multimedia and hyperlinks -- things that make the reading experience more interesting.   Looking forward to tapping into your wisdom and learning with and from your experience.

In reply to LaDonna Coy

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Richard Schwier -

Cool, LaDonna! My best advice is to jump in with both feet.  Just find something you've already written and that you think has an audience.  Scott Leslie will be doing a videoconference on the 7th about how to start putting things together, and I know that will be an excellent session.

A number of programs can export epubs (inDesign, Pages) and if you start with a simple template and add things as you normally would, you'll probably find it pretty easy to get a first draft together.  I'm a Mac user, so I used Pages and their template for e-pubs.  It helped a lot.  There were still a lot of things to learn and deal with, and I still haven't figured out all of them, but it was a good place for me to start.

Hyperlinks and images were relatively easy to deal with, but there were some tricks I picked up along the way.  Video was another issue.  I never did get embedded video to work for me consistently, but I have a graduate student who has it all sorted out, so I'm anxious to find out how he solved my problems.

I'll be starting a discussion thread on some of the technical stuff around writing epubs in the coming days (thought I'd wait until Scott introduced things).  I'd love to share software ideas and coding horror stories! :-)

If you're looking for some good reference material on this stuff, I really like Liz Castro's publications.  Check them out at http://www.elizabethcastro.com/epub/

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Have you written an e-pub? Good old Hypercard

by Susanne Nyrop -

Way back in 1993, when I had my first computer which was a commodore 128, I was terribly frustrated with all those commands needed in the high-end compiled code language called COMAL80, which was used in the computer science class  I was taking. Then, I decided to go for a Macintosh Apple LCII and a young nephew age 13 was sent to me as a startup helping hand. Best of all was the allround multimedia toolbox known as Hypercard.

As I was sitting there on my own trying to  figure out wht to do with this marvel, as a godsent came the neighbor's kids age 11 and 12, shyly they asked me if I would teach them to speak French! This was the first time we ever spoke apart from a friendly greeting in the street. Why not? I said to myself. At once we started experimenting with my brand new computer, and the microphone came in very handy for the boy who had obvious trouble with letters. Speaking this nasal tongue twister was no problem for him!  They came back once a week in a period, and their learning curve was quite efficient, as was mine. Later, I used Hypercard for a bachelor project, drawing (wiht mouse!) little cartoon situations for a child age four, who was a late starter in many things, again the microphone was very powerful as he asked to use it for his own little contributions to the magic booklet about his own everyday life. Usually, he did not speak often!

On writing these first experiences with the early e-book-alike development, I come to think of the blurred  boundaries between the author/developer and the reader/contributor for this kind of interactive authorware. Hypercard fans who are still unhappy this tool was discontiued by Apple in the late nineties, claim this was the very reason: the programming power was let over to the people as users.  Right now I am dreaming of some archaeological digging back in my old dusty macintosh storage to find out what it would look like today: the name of this project with the four year old was: The Little House on the Screen.

In reply to Susanne Nyrop

Re: Have you written an e-pub? Good old Hypercard

by Richard Schwier -

Ohhhhh myyyyyy, you just hit me with a wave of nostalgia!  HyperCard remains my favourite all-time tool, I think!  And you're right. It was definitely an authoring tool for designing many of the kinds of things we're talking about in this seminar.

 

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Have you written an e-pub? Good old Hypercard

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -
I miss HyperCard as well!!! I am very frustrated with how poor most editing tools are in Blackboard for example. I preferred WebCT. I feel like I'm constantly raving to our IT department about editing tools.
In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Have you written an e-pub? Good old Hypercard

by Sylvia Currie -

The good ol days! Hypercard is the reason I've hung onto this beast for so long!

Attachment powerbook3400.png
In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Alice Macpherson -

I feel that I am hopelessly behind the curve here.

I have written a number of items that have become .PDF objects and then sent out into the world via email or websites or flash drives. Some of them have been solo and some have been collaborative items (inlcuding a currently 'unpublished' science future novel that I had a hand in)

I have not used any of these new tools. And I missed HyperCard on the other end.

The enjoyable part of writing for me is exchanging ideas with others. Like this.

In reply to Alice Macpherson

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Nicholas Bowskill -

Hi Alice, I wouldn't worry too much. In fact it sounds like you've done quite a lot. An ebook is just a file in a different format. At the end of the day whether its a pdf or whatever its still just another file. 

Interesting to hear about hypercard after all these years and when you think like that are we really returning to computer based learning materials and multimedia? It feels a bit like deja vu or that I should go dig out a copy of Ambron and Hooper's book from the 80s on design with hypercard. 

I imagine once we're over the novelty of the formats it'll be a return to hypermedia or linear text n pictures. 

Nick

In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Richard Schwier -

Ambron and Hooper... that's so cool.  I have a copy too!  I agree that there is a novelty issue at work here.I love novelty!  I'm not sure in the long run if we ever left hypermedia.  In fact I wonder if the current affordances of ePubs offer new ways to express hypermedia and also add in a lot of other possibilities.  Isn't it interesting that we can actually remember (fondly) software we used to struggle with some of the same things we're struggling with now?  I think our designs have matured, and our appreciation for informal and social learning has grown. I wonder if this medium will allow us to take another big step forward?  I used hypercard to present stuff. Do e-pubs encourage us to do more?

In reply to Alice Macpherson

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Richard Schwier -

That's exciting. I think that idea of "exchanging ideas" is at the heart of everything we do.  And whether it is social media or hypercard, we're in the business of sharing.  Isn't that at the heart of it, and it sounds like it is exactly what you're doing.

In reply to Alice Macpherson

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Susanne Nyrop -

Phew! For some reason, Firefox (!) did not allow me to make any replys here in Moodle. Just to say that I loved Sylvia and Richard's loving Hypercard-and-oldMac veteran self portraits. Thank you! I've been researching and it appears that you might be able to track an old Hypercard version for download, and then install some old-system-emulator. But honestly, I got distracted and forgot to make bookmarks, such a fluctuant message to send out!

(oh! is that safe? for free? can we really DO this without the risk of being balmed for dirty piracy intentions? Here in Europe we are currently debating the ACTA legislation, pretending so nicely just to protect copyright owners but probably reaching very far further into Big Brother-oriented loss of integrity...

In reply to Richard Schwier

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Edward Mokurai Cherlin -

I have collaborated on several e-pubs at FLOSS Manuals, starting with How to Bypass Internet Censorship, and I am now running the Sugar Labs program for Replacing Textbooks with e-pubs under Creative Commons. We have projects for math books, and also civics, development economics (how to end poverty), and other subjects.

The best part is that I get to make presents for millions of children every day, and that we may eventually reach the whole billion or so of them all at the same time, in a hundred or more languages. The frustrating part is that there is almost no political recognition of the fact that computers with Free Software and Creative Commons content cost less than printed textbooks, so that we have an opportunity to improve education while decreasing costs.

I say almost no recognition, which is true in the US and Europe, but there are three countries actively replacing their textbooks with free e-pubs: Bangladesh, Uruguay, and South Korea. It is the old story of the bleeding-edge early adopters vs. the "We've never done it that way" laggards, who will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the future. But it's OK. Nothing can stop us now.

In reply to Edward Mokurai Cherlin

Re: Have you written an e-pub?

by Richard Schwier -

These sound fascinating, Edward.  Are they available anywhere we can reach them easily?  Would you be willing to share them with us here?