Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A flip-book preview of My Teacher is a Dinosaur

Originally I created this to go on my web site, on this page. A little flip-book is a really great way to let people browse inside your book, and you can choose which pages to include. Click on the right corner below to see it in action. [Update: if you’re reading this in Google Reader or similar RSS reader and don’t see a little book with flippable pages, please click on the post title and visit the blog to see how the flip-book works.)

So, how did I do this, you’re wondering? The book is laid out in InDesign CS4 and here are the steps:
To add the page curl to all pages, in the menu bar choose Window> Interactive> Page Transitions, and a little palette will open up.
From the drop down menu, choose Page Turn.
Click on the little symbol on the lower right to apply the effect to all pages.
In CS4 you can’t preview it (might be different in CS5.)

Now it’s time to export it. Choose File> Export, type in a name for the flip-book, select the SWF format and a destination for the Flash file and hit Save. Next the Export dialog box comes up:
I chose a 50% scale to reduce the size of the book, but other sizes will work so experiment. I wanted only a few pages, not the whole book, so Range is checked with the page numbers filled in. These were also checked: Spreads; Rasterize Pages; Generate HTML File; View SWF after Exporting (I’m not sure whether these all need be checked, really.) Be sure to check Include Page Transistions and Interactive Page Curl, obviously! The JPEG quality seems okay at Medium. If View SWF is checked, at least on my system it automatically opened in my web browser, Firefox. There you can play with the page turns and make sure the flip-book is working right.

One little wrinkle is that this book has some white pages, and on top of a white web page, it’s impossible to tell where the page corner is (to activate the page flip.) So, before exporting it from InDesign, I added a light gray rectangular border to the pages 12-19 (visible in screenshot) so the corner would be visible against white. You may wonder why I didn’t export starting with page 12? If you do that, it exports the entire previous 2 pages, also.

If you don’t typeset your own books (not many illustrators, do) it should be easy for the publisher to provide a SWF file, assuming they use InDesign.

Then, how to get it on a web page? Naturally, that varies with the software used. In Dreamweaver, the SWF file is copied into the root file of the site. Then on the web page, draw an AP DIV box, and under file menu choose Insert> Media> SWF. Then, because the page flip extends outside of the dimensions of the book, I added about 60 pixels to the height of the bounding box. The flip-book will still work if you don’t do that, the animated pages will just be a little cut off.

How did I get it onto this blog? Blogger won’t accept Flash directly, so the file has to be somewhere else (in my case, it’s on my web site.) In Blogger, I pasted this HTML code into the Edit HTML tab:
<embed height="420" pluginspage=" http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" src="http://www.loreenleedy.com/Dino.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="576"></embed>

You would have to replace my web URL and SWF file name with your own. Your Height and Width values probably will be different, too. This flip-book might be a little too big for my Blogger layout, but it’s perfect for my web site, so I left it as is. Hope the page turns work here on the blog, I’ll find out after this post is published!

Friday, February 11, 2011

My first ebook (sort of)

In the last couple of years the discussion about digital books and story apps in the publishing world has been steadily increasing. It has seemed to escalate in the last few months...there are conferences, workshops, seminars, articles, you name it. 

A group of authors including me had been talking about it privately on a listserv for a few months, then couldn’t resist it any longer and started a group blog called E is for Book. In less than a month we’ve had over 1,500 visitors which indicates there are many people who want to figure out how ebooks will affect the world of children’s books. The first post on the blog gives a good sense of the variety of topics we have been and will be talking about, including ereading devices, software for creating ebooks and apps, glimpses behind the scenes of making a particular title, and much more.

One of the simplest types of digital book is a straightforward conversion of the print book into a digital format without adding additional interactivity or sound. This has been available for a long time, in the form of PDFs. The question is how to get them out into the marketplace. In talking with my publishers, one of the venues they’re working with is Follett Library Resources, which has an ebook section. I don’t have the technical specs yet, but apparently they are using the PDF format. So, since I do the InDesign layouts for my books anyway, it was very easy to add the jacket front and back as single pages, add “endpapers” to page 1 and page 32, and output a PDF. This is just a sample for the publisher and I to discuss, not anything final. But, it is exciting to be moving in this direction, because it will make books more accessible for schools that prefer digital technology for whatever reason.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I’ve been podcasted(!) by Brain Burps about Books

It was such fun to be interviewed by the delightful author-illustrator and podcaster Katie Davis on her weekly show about children’s book publishing, Brain Burps about Books. She has an engaging conversational style that is easy to listen to. The title of my episode is Eeeek! Ebooks which reflects the feelings of many authors, publishers, and readers about the topic of digital books. It can be a little confusing at times, but we did our best to give an overview of the current state of affairs for our kidlit peeps. The podcast is available in several ways (listed below.)

The interview arose out of a project Katie and I and quite a few other authors have been collaborating on, a group blog about digital books called E is for Book. (There is also a link on the left sidebar of this blog.) Although digital books have been available for years, it hasn’t been a big issue for the children’s book biz until recently, in part due to the iPad’s release in April of 2010. The book apps especially have made picture book people sit up and take notice because the format allows for full-bleed art (i.e. artwork that fills the screen.) Recently, the iBooks format has been updated to allow for full-bleed art as well. This is one example of why the group of us decided to band together via E is for Book to figure out what the options are so we can stay informed. What is an ebook, the cost of making story apps, interactivity, ebook formats, and many other issues are what Katie and I talk about, and that we’ll be writing about on the group blog. By the way, there are several chapter book and YA bloggers, too.

Without further ado, here are a few ways to get a copy of the podcast:

The Brain Burps page on iTunes
Episode Permalink

Direct Download

Katie’s Blog Post with Show Notes

She has posted some excellent videos that show interactive story apps in action, so be sure to check them out.

The podcast refers to this article I wrote for I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids):
Authors & ebooks: 11 points to ponder.

So enjoy listening and happy e-reading!

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