EPUB and eBooks: Quark or InDesign?

I prefer using InDesign for designing and laying out books even though I have been using Quark XPress for over twenty years. I recently upgraded to Quark 9, the first version with the ability to export to EPUB.

When preparing a book for both print and eBook editions, there is a fair amount of work to do to get the Quark files in shape for export to EPUB.

Fonts must have bold and italic attributes set (or reset), rather than the actual bold and italic fonts as required by most book printers. If you don’t have the font attributes set, all of the text will come through as roman.

If you have ever attempted to export a regular text file from Quark, you will have run into the same issue. It’s not a big deal, but it will take some time to convert the fonts, especially if you have a separate Quark file for each chapter of the book.

When InDesign makes an EPUB file, all of the active text on the pages will appear in the EPUB–not always in the order you want or expect, but everything should be there. Elements that are on master pages will not show up in the EPUB unless they have been activated on the pages, such as when changes to the text of the headers and footers are done on the actual pages rather than on the master pages.

You can make a separate set of InDesign files and delete extraneous text from the InDesign files before making the EPUB file, but I usually find it easier to make the EPUB from the existing InDesign files and then make additions and deletions to the xhtml files in the EPUB using Adobe Dreamweaver (see my previous article on unstuffing EPUB files to open and edit the xhtml files– “Creating and Formatting EPUB Files with InDesign”).

My Quark EPUB files pass validation as is. I have to modify the dc:date line in the content.opf file of my InDesign EPUB files for them to pass validation (see my previous article on unstuffing EPUB files to open and edit the content.opf file—“Creating and Formatting EPUB Files with InDesign”).

Quark does not export any text until you designate the text (and other elements) that you want to appear in the EPUB. To add text (or images) to the EPUB, choose “Digital Publishing” in the Item menu, and add text as a “New Article” using “Add to Reflow View.” You can then arrange the articles in the order you want them to appear in the EPUB using the up and down arrows in the “Reflow Tagging” window, which is located in the Window menu.

I like a lot of the new features of Quark 9, but overall the process for creating EPUB seems to be easier and faster using InDesign.