Monday, February 28, 2011

From out-of-print to ebook—a progress report

In the early 1990s I wrote and illustrated Tracks in the Sand, which tells the life-cycle story of sea turtles. It was named an Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teachers Association and it’s long seemed likely candidate to bring back to life via a digital edition.

In the last few weeks I’ve been scanning the original artwork into Photoshop and changing the proportions of the pages to get rid of the overly wide shape of double page spreads. This  will allow the pages to fit better onto both regular computer and tablet screens. It has required moving some sea shells and turtle heads around, but it seems to be working out. The (not final) text layouts were done in InDesign. Here is a miniature flip-book showing a few pages—click on the right corner to turn the pages:

 
(If you’re reading this post in Google Reader or similar and can't see the little book, click on the post title to come to the blog.) The technology...surprise!..has been a bit of a pain. I’ve been playing with the page-turning effect, for example, and can get it into a PDF (cool!) But, once you get to the last page, the only way to get back is to laboriously flip back through every page again. (After digging around on the ‘net and various forums and trying all sorts of work-arounds to get some kind of navigation, I would love to be proved wrong so somebody, please do.)

If we forget the page-flipping (which is a Flash animation) and use a fade effect instead, it looks nice plus it’s possible to add a nice Start Over button at the end, yay! By using a PDF I can avoid having the hassle of putting it into EPUB format (required to sell it in the iBookstore.) That’s because the iBooks app allows you to add PDFs (cool!) But, in testing today, when you bring the PDF into the iPad, not only does the Start Over button not work, it gets disappeared entirely (boy, Apple really does not like Flash!) But, at least Tracks looked nice and the iBooks navigation was okay.

Whew, it’s all been a bit exhausting and I’m not 100% sure what the next step is, but at the very least I learned how to make very cool digital flip-books of my print books to put on my web site. Here are a couple more here and here. If anyone is interested in how to make one, I put a tutorial on my books blog. Here is a close-up of one of the hatching turtles taking a little break from the hassles of eggscaping... is he cute or what?

 

7 comments:

  1. Loreen, What a beautiful book! You did a great job turning it into a flip book. What I can tell you is that Apple does not only not like "Flash", but as far as I know, absolutely does not support it (I think there is some big rivalry there). The animation for my app had to be made with different animation programs. For those of you who have never heard of it..."Flash" is an Adobe animation program. I should look into this, because I'm curious myself!

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  2. Thanks Emilie! Yes, the Apple/Adobe/Flash thing is like watching your parents fight... why can't they just get along?

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  3. Looks great, Loreen. So, am I understanding this correctly - were you doing the PDF thing so you could upload it into your personal ibooks app just to see what the book would look like on the ipad? And at some point if you wanted to offer it for sale in the ibookstore, would you have to convert to epub and go through the submission process? Or could you potentially sell the final (de-bugged) PDF to other people to download into ibooks?

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  4. Beautiful work. I can see what a challenge it must be to change such wide spreads into more square shapes for the new media readers. Love the flip the page book. Not sure I understand how the pdf fits into the flash book or the digital version. But then I am still generally lost in this new world. :) Btw, just love the subtle colors on the eggs around the baby turtle taking a rest.

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  5. @Ruth, yes on all counts. An unadorned PDF can be loaded into iBooks (via iTunes) but not sold on the iBookstore. To sell on the iBookstore, it would have to be in the EPUB (fixed-layout) format. And I could sell a PDF directly that people could load into iBooks OR read in Adobe Reader (or any other PDF reader.) Lots of options. The bottom line on the "flip-page" effect shown above is that it can only be viewed in Adobe Reader (as far as I know.)

    @Leanne Thank you...it has been fun to revisit this artwork and enhance it in Photoshop in certain areas to bring out the colors and textures. This book always was an anomaly vs. the rest of my work.

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  6. This book has been a favorite for years! Great to see it finding a second life, and the PB quality holds up surprisingly well in this format. Really informative to read the comment conversations, too. Thanks!

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  7. I agree, Sandy, that the book works very well in this format. I love the page turns.

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