Ebook formatting 3: Epub to iBooks

Posted: April 24, 2012 in School papers
Tags: , ,

I’ve been taking an ebooks class this semester, and for my final project I decided to do a little formatting experiment. We learned all kinds of formatting and CSS in class, but a lot of what we learned didn’t work on every form of output. The same epub file might come out differently in Adobe Digital Editions versus iBooks. So I created a mini-ebook in both epub and mobi, with all kinds of formatting “issues” I could think of–colors, lists, images–and took screenshots of how they came out in different programs and devices.

In the last post, I covered epub to Adobe Digital Editions and epub to Calibre. In this post, I’m covering epub to iBooks, on both iPad and iPhone.

For starters, you can download the epub here. But it is possible to get the gist of the experiment without downloading it.

Let’s see how the epub displayed in iBooks for iPad.


The cover fits on the first page, with no off-centering problems on page or thumbnail (not shown).


As with ADE, all the text formatting worked except the more obscure fonts.


Above, you can see that we have the same problem as with ADE, with the ID anchor in the first line under “Lists” being treated as a hyperlink. It’s more subtle in this case, since the hyperlink isn’t underlined, but it’s still a misleading distraction.

The list themselves, though, are fine.


Notice the issue with the alignments. This was the same problem I had with the two desktop applications I’ve reviewed so far, that was solved by resizing the window. You can resize the windows on iBooks (if you turn the iPad sideways, it switches to a 2-page spread), so there’s no quick fix.

Don’t be fooled by the last two images. The image with the border displays as it should. The image that is supposed to be floating right is the one on the following page, which also displays as it should. At first glance, it looked like the same image was displayed twice!

Links and Backgrounds

Both links work as they should (the link within the book having the annoying quality mentioned above of displaying the anchor as a hyperlink). The link to the website brings up a pop-up window asking, “Do you want to leave iBooks and open this link?” Upon clicking “Open,” it opens the link in Safari.

Now let’s look at iBook for iPhone. Most things were the same, so I’m just highlighting anything that came out differently than in the iPad version.


Haha. No. It will not justify. It’s easier to tell on this narrow a screen!

Image alignment

Even though we’re looking at split-up images, we can easily see that both the top- and middle-alignments actually came out as the default bottom-align.

Now here’s a weird thing. The floating image works fine with the iPhone held sideways:

But look what happens when it’s held upright!

That is probably not something you want to have happen by accident.

Next: Mobi to Kindle for desktop.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s