We are living through a time of changes in the publishing sector. New possibilities are opening up in the world of traditional publishing. Here at Grafime we are also experimenting with new formats in order to become an R+D department for publishers who wish to venture out on these new paths along which the world of books is steadily advancing. Here are some of the avenues we have explored:
Children’s books with Flash
Making use of the implementation of the Flash technology included in the InDesign program, we experimented with the possibility of creating animated children’s books based on versions already laid out. Using InDesign CS 4, in 2010 we carried out some tests with one of the titles from the excellent Tembo collection, featuring books written and illustrated by Teresa Campos and published by Intermon Oxfam. The story’s main character is Tembo, a baby elephant, and we succeed in bringing him to life thanks to the tools on InDesign’s interactive panel. One idea was that this animated version of the story could be used to promote the whole collection through the publisher’s webpage. In only two years Flash technology has been replaced by html 5 –a new technology compatible with all mobile devices–, and Adobe has developed programs such as Adobe Edge which make it easier to create animations in a more intuitive way.
Creation of the first epubs
When InDesign incorporated its tool for exporting to e-pub we wanted to test-drive all the possibilities offered by this option. This was in 2010, and e-books were just starting to arouse some interest in the publishing sector. In our case, after taking part in various training courses we made a few tests using the collection of essays “Dossieres para entender el mundo” by Intermon Oxfam. With the help of InDesign CS 4 we made the first exports and the first tests with the Adobe viewer (Adobe Digital Edition) and some e-Readers. The road was far from straightforward, and various obstacles appeared along our way. The most important was that the export we generated was deficient and the code for the resulting e-pub needed to be retouched, not only to achieve a perfect finish but also to ensure that it was validated. We also had trouble tackling the uncertain matter of how to manage to embed the fonts. And as readers of e-pubs, one of the aspects we were most concerned about was to achieve a good design in the final digital book, although it sometimes seems as though the terms “good design” and “e-pub” are mutually exclusive. With this in mind we tried to transfer the design elements of traditional books to the electronic book: a blank page at the start of a chapter, falsified small caps order to draw attention to the first paragraphs of each chapter, separating footnotes with their corresponding separation line… in short, various solutions that meant continuing to take the utmost care over the layout of the publications, no matter how electronic they might be. Although Adobe has progressively improved its options for export and e-pub with every update of its Creative Suite, generating an e-book continues to demand that we exert ourselves to the maximum.
Magazines for tablets
The boom in digital tablets and the possibilities they open up in the publishing sector have driven us to find a way of starting to experiment with this new technological gadget. Although for some time Adobe had been announcing the creation of a platform for editing digital magazines, the delay in its launch led us to explore a range of different options, including the possibility of acquiring specific software at a very high price. When Adobe finally presented its Digital Publishing and its implementation through InDesign CS 5 we saw an opportunity opening up to us. With the new program and an iPad we began to use this tool.
In early 2012 Apple launched its new iBooks Author program, billed as “a simple tool for the publication of e-books with a strong multimedia component… child’s play, but incredibly serious!” –the inverted commas indicate that the definition is not our own. To sum up, Apple offers a program for creating e-books which is relatively easy to use and very intuitive. There are various posts on Internet indicating the virtues and defects of this program, but we also wanted to carry out some of our own tests. Given its advantages in incorporating multimedia elements, we decided to try it with some of the training manuals we have been working with recently. This is a really good tool for generating electronic books, although its possible drawbacks include the fact that in order to publish the book and to derive any economic benefit from it the user is required to submit to the conditions imposed by Apple through its Apple store. Anyway we are keeping a close eye on any new developments in this product, as well as on all the ongoing changes in the publishing sector.