Atavist has always been about making it easy to publish to all digital formats from a single place. Nowadays that mainly means the web (including and with an emphasis on mobile browsers), and at higher account tiers, it includes ebooks.
Making ebooks with Atavist is just as easy as publishing a story to the web. In many cases you won’t need to do anything additional at all for your project to be immediately publishable on major e-retailer’s sites. Once generated, your ebooks are yours to download and use or distribute completely as you please.
At this time, Atavist does not provide the option of a PDF export.
With an Individual account or higher, just click the “Ebooks” button on the top right of the Publish page to get started.
Let’s take a look at what the features look like inside the platform. Once you upgrade, you’ll see a new tab, Ebooks, within Publish on the top right:
Click into the tab, and you’ll see where you can generate ebook files (including .epub and .mobi files) in various formats and for various retailers:
Finally, within general settings, you’ll find an Ebook Settings section:
If you want to go even further and create a custom eBook, this doc contains some information on making them work across all e-readers.
Despite ebooks being entirely HTML and CSS, designing ebooks is not the same as designing web-based projects. Here we offer our experiences in designing ebooks, and some recommendations on what you can and cannot achieve.
Web versus epub
Atavist does not promise design parity between the browser-friendly versions of the project and epubs. Fonts, layout, and other design elements (such as pull quotes, drop caps, sidebars) may appear differently from device to device. We recommend designing with this in mind.
For example: Let’s take a look at screenshots from the epub version of an Atavist Magazine article, “The Zombie King.” (Here is the original story: https://magazine.atavist.com/stories/the-zombie-king/.) Below you can see what the story looks like in a browser:
In the epub version (below), the drop caps are no longer visible and block quotes are styled slightly differently.
If this is distressing to you, Atavist recommends taking a look at selling your project online: https://docs.atavist.com/selling-individual-stories. This would allow you to design for the web and have greater control over the appearance of your project.
If you’re moving forward with an ebook version, here are some additional things to consider:
- The majority of ereaders include margins by default. This means that full-bleed graphics are pretty much impossible.
- The majority of ereaders are by default paginated (as opposed to the web, which is scrolling). This can make complicated layouts with floats and columns that much more difficult to accommodate.
- The majority of ereaders allow users to change the font size of text. Do not expect perfectly laid out text at one size (especially over images or graphics) to maintain its position.
- Because of built-in margins and responsive design, we do not recommend adding margins to text. You might add a small amount of margin to blockquotes, but we recommend you use media queries where possible.
Check to make sure that all media in your blocks will work in an ereader:http://help.atavist.com/ebook:limitations.
Any block that needs to connect to the internet (for example, the table block, which draws its data from Google Sheets) may not work in an epub. We advise testing all block types in the format when you start.
Each eBook retailer has their own restrictions about maximum file upload sizes.
- Amazon: KDP50MB
- NookPress: 20MB
- Apple iBookstore:2GB
- Kobo Store: 200MB*
- Google Play Books: 2GB
*While there is no real limitation to file size, Kobo suggests that files stay under 200MB for performance reasons.
Some ebook retailers will increase the file size limitation if handled through a distribution service
- NookPress (via distribution service): 600MB
- Amazon: 650MB
Atavist allows you to quickly include or remove features from your interactive project when exporting the project to eBooks.
To see the settings we offer, go to Settings, then eBooks:
Including and Excluding Media
For file size purposes, you can exclude images, audio, and video from your eBooks. See the Upload Limitations to decide if you want to turn off these media types (we recommend turning off audio and video for Kindle files if you intend to use KDP as audio and video are not allowed in KDP files).
Note: turning off any of these will also turn off the corresponding blocks (i.e. if you turn off Images here, the Image and Slideshow Blocks will also not be displayed).
Removing Colophon Page
Atavist users can remove the Colophon page of an eBook (This includes a note that the book was produced by the Atavist software).
Below are all of the markup patterns for ePub blocks. This is here to help you with custom styling of the various HTML elements.
When you place a block directly into a section, this is the code we generate when output to an eBook format
Chart blocks are currently skipped and not output to ePubs. We are exploring future options to output chart blocks to ePubs.
Map blocks are currently skipped and not output to ePubs. We are exploring future options to output map blocks to ePubs.
Parallax Image Block
Currently Parallax Image Blocks return the image, but do not parallax.
ALL EBOOK OUTPUTS
Because we cannot embed soundcloud files into ebooks, we provide a link to the page.
epubcheck is a script run against all Atavist ebooks. You can learn more about epubcheck from its github wiki.
The main reason epubcheck runs against files is that many retailers do not accept files that fail epubcheck. We bundle it with Atavist to ensure you have a file that can go directly on sale at a retailer without worry.
Common epubcheck errors in Atavist
Because of the flexibility available in creating ebooks in Atavist, it’s possible that your file will generate errors. We outline some common errors and ways to solve the error.
“Video element doesn’t provide fallback”
All of Atavist’s autogenerated video elements include fallbacks, but it’s possible that a video element created by a user in a section template will cause this error.
This is an example of markup that will fail epubcheck and generate this error message:
To fix it, make sure your markup includes a fallback message, like so:
“referenced resource is not declared in the OPF manifest”
These three errors will usually be displayed together. The root cause is a missing image, video, or audio asset.
First, check your ebook media settings in “Settings” > “ebooks”:
If any of these checkboxes are unchecked and you reference a media asset of that type in a section template, epubcheck will generate an error. Because Atavist does not control section template markup directly it does not remove markup put into a section template. To fix it, do one of the following:
If you do NOT want media assets in your ebook files: remove the <audio>, <video>, or <img> markup from your section template; or
If you do want media assets in your ebook files: check the corresponding media checkbox in the ebook settings panel shown above. Note that this might include other media assets in other places of your ebook as well.
“fragment identifier is not defined in...”
This error occurs when a link within pages (usually something like <a href="#part3">link</a>) does not actually exist on the page. To be sure your link hashes do work in ebooks, make sure you use Atavist’s built-in link tool.
... remote resource reference not allowed; resource must be placed in the OCF
This error(s) will occur if you include images, scripts, or other files that are not included within Atavist. For example, if you include an <img> src that links to a web url, this error will display. The best workaround is to download the file, and include it in Atavist using our image tools.
... This file should declare in the OPF the property: scripted
This error will occur if you include inline <script> code into a section. Because inline scripts often do not work in ebook, we highly recommend you not include these when building ebooks. If possible, use our built in blocks (youtube, vimeo, etc.) to avoid these issues.
element “acronym” not allowed here;
The <acronym> HTML tag has been deprecated. Please use <abbr> instead.