To update the post below, I’ve decided on both ebook hardware, software, and format. This was no easy task–there are dozens of hardware options out there, nearly as many software programs, and at least a handful of possible publishing locales, each with its own proprietary format. For converting my print manuscript to a digital format, though, I have decided that the industry standard, Adobe InDesign CS6, is the best option. A few reasons:

  • The cost is not so bad with a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. Somewhere under $300 per year, but you get all that Adobe goodness, which includes Photoshop and Media Encoder.
  • Unlike iBooks Author, the tool that comes for free with Mountain Lion, InDesign lets you design every document from scratch. Not having to work with someone else’s pre-existing template, even if they are pretty, is a plus for me.
  • Easy audio and video integration makes this software even more appealing. So, if the print edition of my text never gets published, at least this version will have video clips, audio files, and beautiful hand-drawn maps (hat tip: artist extraordinaire Holly Hoover) that can be zoomed and panned within the digital document. No print edition can do that, right? InDesign even lets you published three-dimensional models within your digital text.
  • InDesign lets you create multiple versions of the same text with relative ease. Why would I want multiple digital versions? Simple: just as web developers struggle to make their pages look good on multiple monitors, ebook publishers need to accomodate a huge range of devices, each with its own screen size and resolution. With InDesign, I can create multiple formats, allowing the device to pick the version best for its hardware and software.

The primary device I’m publishing for is the iPad 2, since this seems to be the most popular tablet in schools. The iPad 3 has the retina display and a much larger resolution, making it a tempting choice for rich visuals, but for now, I am sticking with the 1028 x 768 pixels of the iPad 2.

I’ll be publishing the text, eventually, to the App store, not as a book per se, but as an application with a book wrapped inside of it. While I could publish a fairly interactive PDF, the app version allows me to draw on all of the interactivity of the digital medium, while marketing the text in a very popular venue.

In all of this thinking, I have been helped immensely by the work of Pariah Burke, and specifically, ePublishing with InDesign CS6: Design and produce digital publications for tablets, ereaders, smartphones, and more by Pariah S. Burke. If you are at all interesting in ePublishing, this is a terrific resource, written in very clear language. I recommend the Kindle version, of course, if you are really interesting in epublishing.