Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Writing a #crossplatform #multimedia rich #eBook is hard! Help needed

Stephen Downes' OLDaily got me onto Laura Braunstein who listed a couple of eBook qualities she would like to see. And I totally agree with her list (in short: interoperability, intertextuality, sharing, device neutrality, curating). This is a great list and to be honest, I am looking at ways to publish an eBook syllabus (makes more sense then a fixed written book in this day and age, doesn't it). The only problem is, that it is still a challenge to integrate multimedia in an eBook (or at least, I still find it challenging). So I was looking at a way to get an eBook - preferably an ePub - published, with integrated movies, audio and the more classic stuff (hyperlinks, pictures) and ... I can use any help you might have... here is the road I traveled so far.

What I am looking for is a complete eBook or ePub tool, that allows me to integrate multimedia and produce a cross-platform, interactive publication. So, I started to sift through what is out there.
First stop:
Lulu publishing: they do offer an eBook solution, but currently without multimedia support so... not worth the time investment. is another self-publishing option, but then again, I do not find any multimedia integration here either, so I could just as well use google docs.
Smashwords is another independent eBook publishing option. No multimedia here either (if I am overlooking it, feel free to tell me).

The thing is, if multimedia integration is not possible, I can just as easily use a pdf, google doc, or even a Word file as a book and just fill it with anchors and hyperlinks + pictures. Make sure to read the AMAZINGLY wonderful Liz Castro with a post on cheap Word into ePub conversion.

In the meanwhile I just want a book that gets me there, inside the text, guided by the text or media. It cannot be that difficult as the internet is doing it already anyway?

Then there is the international digital publishing forum. They have an immediate link to ePub3 and the open codes related to that. Great stuff, yet ... again time is limited for me at the moment. But if this is a priority, you can find a great set of resources here.
Or there is the Wysiwyg Google option called Sigil. But here again I do not seem to see video integration.

And there is of course iBooks 2 which does enable video integration in eBooks but also 3D models etcetera, but what I am looking for is a cross platform solution.

Luckily, I came across ePubInClassroom (which features a nice overview of ePub options) and that was where I found a link to Calibre, which has indeed video integration (hooray!).

Calibre is an amazing (!) eBook option built by Kovid Goyal, as it allows you to gather articles from newspapers and integrate it into an eBook that can be viewed on your device, or you can use it to create multimedia driven eBooks. Calibre uses a straightforward video tutorial to get you up to speed...

BUT, the video is not mentioned. Now, I found a thread in mobile read which covers embedding video in Calibre but ... not getting anywhere with that at the moment.

If anyone knows a cheap and easy way, feel free to share! Or must I really get InDesign CS5? Or should I provide a complete folder that can be downloaded so a local website can be unfolded with links to movies? ... as you see my mind moves all over the place, so feel free to point me in the right direction.

That being said... my list of to do things keeps on growing during my sabbatical: getting gRSShopper up and running for publishing a newsletter, finishing a mLearning syllabus, finishing full proposal, rewriting two book chapters, organizing a free, open course on mLearning ... so maybe I should just keep my mind on a more static syllabus and not add an ePub to my list .... But then again, where is the fun of that?