Publishing an “enhanced” or multimedia eBook (which includes embedded videos) using Apple’s Pages ’09 software is not as simple and straightforward as I’d hoped it would be. For the past couple weeks, I’ve wrestled with the website Lulu.com and tried to publish the multimedia/enhanced version of “Playing with Media: simple ideas for powerful sharing” there. I have the “standard EPUB” version posted to my iTunes iConnect account with Apple, but it is still in the queue for content approval. (My enhanced multimedia EPUB wouldn’t upload to iTunes, and I was mystified by a FAQ which indicated videos weren’t allowed in eBooks.) The standard version of the book is available NOW on Amazon (in 4 countries, including the U.S.) and on the Barnes and Noble eBookstore. This evening, I decided to give Lulu another try. This time, although I want to publish my book directly on the iTunes iBookstore and thereby avoid Lulu’s nominal per-book service fee for serving as a third party intermediary / aggregator, I tried to post my multimedia EPUB to “publish everywhere” on Lulu. That option includes the iBookstore, and this 3rd option for publishing an eBook requires that you provide a unique ISBN you own.
Previously I’d tried to just upload for publishing on Lulu.com, and couldn’t get past the upload screen because the site kept prompting me to specify a size to convert to PDF. Other forum posts I read seemed to indicate this cryptic error (which didn’t really make sense because I wasn’t trying to convert to PDF) resulted from an EPUB which didn’t pass validation. Tonight, however, since I tried “option 3” for eBook publishing, Lulu must have used a different validator because it gave me two new errors which indicated I have validation problems.
Thanks to this forum post, I learned tonight about another free EPUB validation option: Flightcrew. Unlike EpubCheck, Flightcrew does not require command-line use, it has a Mac GUI (graphical user interface) version. It also doesn’t have a file size limit, like ThreePress’ validator which just accepts files smaller than 10 MB. When I ran Flightcrew tonight on my multimedia EPUB, however, I was rather horrified to see there are at least 50 reported errors. This screenshot below is just a partial list.
I don’t have the bandwidth tonight (mentally) to figure out how I’m going to resolve these issues. It looks like Apple Pages ’09 doesn’t insert the tags or meta data when videos are inserted which are required by the EPUB format. This is a REAL bummer! It doesn’t look like this is a problem with file names, it looks like different video data elements simply weren’t included by Pages in the EPUB. I will likely try to open the EPUB in Calibre and see if it can remedy these omissions. Sigil, the open source software project for which Flightcrew was originally developed, is another option I’ll try. I’d guess Apple will address these problems in a forthcoming update of Pages, but I really don’t want to wait for that.
I’d like to find a simple solution to this problem. If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them. I’ll continue to report on how this goes. If you haven’t read my previous posts related to eBook publishing, they are:
- 25 Jul 2011: Reading the Fine Print: Considering Different eBook Publishing Options for the iBookstore
- 29 Jul 2011: Publishing eBooks to Amazon and iTunes iBookstore: Learning Curve Continues
I could decide to work with a 3rd party aggregator like LibreDigital and have them fix my EPUB errors, but they charge fairly substantial bucks for that service AND they take 15% of your gross eBook profits forever. I’d prefer to find a solution which is less costly in both the short and long term.
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