Here’s an easy start to this article, I love my job. I do, it’s different than my traditional ePUB work but my options have expanded drastically.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say ePUB is a wonderful standard conceptually but it’s been plagued by challenges outside of developers’ control which has significantly slowed down ePUB’s evolution. If left to our own devices developers can and will make beautifully creative ePUB books that push the boundaries of the standard, they are true works of art. Here’s the catch, they only work on specific devices. In large-scale ebook production, having your amazing book only available on tablets won’t fly. Publishers want and need accessibility at the lowest cost and in the least amount of time.
I get to see the books come alive and truly have their layout tailored to their content. Cookbooks and hobby books in particular seem to thrive in our card layout. I spent hours upon hours working on Flour, too trying to get the beautiful result I thought it deserved. I got very close… but there were a few tiny caveats, I’m still frustrated that Kindle adds white backgrounds to .png images.
So when I saw in Twenty-dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals in a simple Inkling format, I was flabbergasted. It was so clean and simple and by using a card layout, they’ve solved the perpetual problem of making sure the photo is with the right recipe. (This sounds simple, but in reflowable ePUB it can be a nightmare. Chicken Parmesan’s picture may end up sitting next to beef wellington’s recipe and to change it you have to further disrupt the layout sometimes even adding a blank or filler page.)
The recipes even carry over the author’s notes in the form of pop-tips (little floating notes) so that you can see alternative ingredients or preparation methods. Or you can take notes yourself and share them with friends. And once things get complex, there are timers and all kinds of widgets or quizzes that are just perfect for cookbooks. Since cooking is one of my greatest loves, you can imagine how exciting this was. Cookbooks deserve an option that does them justice and this seems like a step in the right direction!
So I tried actually making something from the app. I broke in my new ice cream maker by making The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World From Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. While using my iPad in the kitchen was a new adjustment for me (and a little messy) I managed and had wonderful ice cream to eat (in spite of messing up the instructions a bit) and found a sort of contentment in the fact that the company I work for strives for high-quality content. It felt validating somehow.
While I daydream about all the cookbooks I’d like to see make it into our platform you can check these books out for yourselves. You should get a free preview of at least one and should you be interested, you can actually purchase singular chapters of books for a fraction of the cost of the whole book.
That aside, I love all of the new options I’ve been handed to do these books justice. It also helps that my coworkers are cool, very interested in being compatible with the ePUB standard (they ask me questions all the time) and the recipes are awesome!