The second group of professionals that has developed a store of online resources comprises production specialists who work throughout the publishing industry. These are the individuals who help take the author’s manuscript and turn it into a well-designed and attractive package that appeals to readers. While the work of these individuals is supported by resources available through the AIGA, there are a few specific aspects to the creation of print and digital books that go beyond the purview of AIGA.
Almost all professional book designers use Adobe’s InDesign, part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud. The file formats from InDesign are the most accepted formats within the industry. One of the richest resources for help on InDesign is through Adobe’s main site. Through its help pages on InDesign, Adobe offers manuals, videos, tutorials, and a community forum to discuss the program. Adobe also offers the Adobe Exchange, a marketplace maintained by Adobe, which provides plug-ins, extensions, templates, and other content for its programs.
The community of InDesign users will also find tips, tricks, and shortcuts at the InDesign Secrets site. Developed by David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepcion, the site provides detailed instruction from the professional Adobe community. InDesign Secrets also provides online videos and a podcast to help InDesign users sharpen their skills and make sense of the myriad menus that come with the program. The organization also hosts Pepcon, an annual InDesign Conference.
David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepcion are also two contributors to the video training site Lynda.com, which provides instructional videos on a plethora of media platforms. The service has readily become one of the main training libraries for design and book development. The site hosts hundreds of hours of video on Adobe’s Creative Cloud and Creative Suite environments. It also hosts videos on e-book production, illustration, app development, typography, and project management. New videos are continually added and showcased.
A current challenge for production departments within the book industry is developing a work flow for the e-book format. Publishers have three main methods for selling digital versions of books: Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF), Amazon’s Kindle Format, and the EPUB standard maintained by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). Adobe’s PDF format has been around since 1991 and was released as an open format in 2008. It is one of the standard file outputs from Adobe’s products and can be read on most computers and handheld devices. The Kindle format is a proprietary format managed by Amazon. The developer tools are available only through the Kindle Direct Publishing site. For production departments that want to provide files that are readable on a number of e-readers, the EPUB format has become the standard. The International Digital Publishing Forum website provides information on EPUB, including the specifications and forums.
The Digital Book World website provides WEBcasts and classes on developing e-books. One of the site’s most useful pages is Resources: Going from InDesign to Ebook, a list of EPUB resources compiled by Colleen Cunningham, an e-book developer at F + W.
E-book designers have formed online groups to deal with the ever-changing landscape. Two of the most active communities are the MobileRead forums and the #eprdctn ad hoc group on Twitter, so named because of the #eprdctn hash tag used for questions and updates. There is also the eBookNinjas podcast run by developers from the eBookArchitects group, that provides news and summaries of the latest developments in this new format.