Alongside print data, the items most frequently produced by le-tex are e-books. e-books can be categorized according to their pagination:

  • PDF-based e-books correspond exactly to print products in terms of their pagination, 
  • Reflowable e-books adjust to the page makeup of the screen size and the font size selected and are therefore also suitable for viewing on smaller display devices. 

Reflowable e-books are best generated from structured data.

The most common data formats are EPUB (readable e.g. with Apple iBooks, Adobe Digital Editions, or on numerous other dedicated readers) and Mobipocket (Amazon Kindle). To be equipped to handle future updates of e-book data formats however, content should not be saved exclusively in one of the current e-book formats but also in an XML format that is fully compatible with the features and characteristics of the content. This enables questions and answers to be marked up in teaching materials, for instance, and the right answer to be indicated as such in multiple choice questions. This approach makes it possible in future to generate every e-book format that supports user interaction, which would not be possible if the data was configured exclusively on EPUB 2.

Many publishers do not currently have structured content. However, these publishers do not want to miss out on the success of reflowable e-books. In these cases, we usually suggest a dual strategy:

  • Conversion of the backlist from print PDFs or raw typesetting data, 
  • Change in the workflow (version 1, see workflow diagram): 
    • Self-service tools to generate structured data e.g. from Word, 
    • Typesetting from structured data with InDesign or TeX, and 
    • Generation of e-book data from current, structured typesetting data. 
  • Or alternatively, while largely retaining established typesetting workflows: 
    • Conventional page makeup in InDesign, but with particularly careful use of named templates, anchored images, cross-references etc. 
    • Typesetter exports the data to XHTML or IDML and loads it onto a web-based checking and conversion tool (that generates XML and e-book data) 
    • Typesetter checks conversion result (e.g. in EPUB format) and corrects the identified markup errors 

We can say from many years of experience that, due to shortcomings in the InDesign XML roundtrip workflow for InDesign production, the second alternative is in many cases preferable.


Martin Kraetke
Phone: +49 341 355356 143
Fax: +49 341 355356 543