Most writers aren’t book designers. And even most book designers don’t know much about making ebooks. So, in the process of getting from manuscript to book, one of the biggest challenges writers face is: producing ebook files and designed book files ready to go to the printer. This is where Pressbooks can help.
Just a few years ago, creating those book files was a laborious and expensive process. Designing books for print required complicated software (usually InDesign), and ebooks — well … ebooks are xHTML and CSS wrapped up in a container file, with strict requirements for metadata and … you get the picture. Ebooks are complicated. So, in the old days, if you didn’t how to use InDesign, and you didn’t know how to code xHTML, you would have to hire an ebook developer to make your ebook and a designer to create your book for print.
Pressbooks changes all that. Pressbooks is easy-to-use writing software that makes the files you need. It’s built with a simple and familiar interface (for anyone who has ever blogged), and Pressbooks will instantly apply a professional design for your print files, generate all the code and design you need for a professional ebook, optimized to look good in all different ebookstores (including Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Nook, Google Play and others). Pressbooks does the work of producing professional book files for you — so that you can focus on what you are good at: writing and (hopefully) marketing your book.
Pressbooks lets you write a book online, then take the files you export from Pressbooks and upload them directly into the bookstores.
Pressbooks exports three main types of files: PDF, EPUB and MOBI-for three different end uses.
Print Book File Specifications
To make a print book, you need a designed PDF file called an “interior file.”
PDF interior files look like … “books”: title page, page numbers, chapter headings, etc.
Before Pressbooks, a graphic designer would need to build the interior file for a print book.
Pressbooks (which is often available free to you through your library) produces beautiful print book files automatically for you — without you having to learn anything about book design, or hiring a designer.
Pressbooks offers dozens of design layouts, known as themes, to choose from. You’ll find options suitable for any genre of book, from horror to romance to academic research.
Best of all, it adapts the book layout to the trim size you specify. If you change your mind about that trim size, Pressbooks changes the layout instantly and automatically reflows your text — something you previously would have needed a designer to do.
Ebook File Specifications
Ebooks are special files used in ebook reading devices (such as a Kindle or iPhone). There are two (main) kinds of ebooks:
- MOBI: the file format used by Amazon Kindle
- EPUB: the file format used by Apple’s iBooks, Kobo, Nook, Google and just about every other ebook platform.
When ebook publishing was in its infancy, MOBI was the only file format accepted for publication in the Kindle store. Now, Kindle Direct Publishing will convert other types of files for you — even PDFs, Word docs and EPUB files. However, converting files from one type to another can introduce funky formatting and errors, the result being your book can look amateurish, or downright terrible, on many devices. Which is why it’s best to use a professionally-designed MOBI file, such as the files that Pressbooks generates.
EPUB files are the format for ebooks in almost all non-Amazon ebookstores. Some stores may allow you to submit in different formats — including Word — but then you are at the mercy of an automatic conversion process, which is likely to mash your book up in ways you won’t be happy with. We suggest submitting well-formatted EPUB files. This will give your book the best chance of looking good on all different ereaders.
Pressbooks was invented to make it easy for anyone to produce the professional PDF, MOBI and EPUB files that are necessary to get from an unformatted manuscript to a publishable print or ebook.
Ebooks and print books have different cover file requirements.
Different ebook stores have different specifications for cover files. We’ve found the safest set of specifications are: a single JPG file, with a 1:1.5 aspect ratio, and a maximum file-size of 2MB.
Print covers are PDF files, sized according to the trim size dimensions and page length of your book. A print cover consists of three parts: front cover, back cover and spine, which are all in one design. Print covers must also meet certain requirements for resolution, color space and PDF profile.
You can meet these standards by producing your book covers using Pressbooks’ cover generator (in PDF+EBOOK Pro books), or you can commission a professional. We’ll give some tips in the chapters to come.