London, England based Circular Software originally released a plugin for Adobe Indesign in late 2011. It is quickly becoming the tool of choice for major publishers such as Hachette because of the ability to export ebooks in both Kindle Format 8 and EPUB3.
Adobe Digital Publishing Suite is one of the most expansive ebook creation programs in the world. It provides advanced tools to export books in any format but also provides deep analytics to report how many people have read the book. Like most mainstream programs, they are totally reliant on plugins from third party developers to streamline the process and give you a host of advanced features.
The rise of Fixed layout EPUB3 allows a multitude of new features such as video, audio, animations, and interactive content. Google, Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and many more are supporting it or will be by the end of 2013. Meanwhile, Amazon has buckled the trend and developed its own next generation format with Kindle Format 8, which supports all of the above elements.
Tom Barnes the CEO of Circular software explained the semantics of the plugin to Good e-Reader. “We use InDesign CS6 and Mac OS to export graphics, content, styles and write all the code for EPUB and KF8 then package and validate.” The plugin is a free download, but to export your books into EPUB3 and KF8 costs $199.99 for each ebook produced. When asked about the high cost, Tom replied “Direct output from InDesign, no coding, no limit to the amount of pages in a book, high quality graphics, searchable text, valid EPUB3 and KF8 in minutes. Nearly two years development of a niche product in an unpredictable market place, you could ask why is it so cheap?”
EPUB3 and KF8 are perfect for educational textbooks and children’s books. In December Hachette produced 100 fully interactive ebooks with this plugin and reaped tremendous success. Indie authors can export their books and market them to Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and other websites, but Circular Software has partnered with PigeonLab to handle distribution. They will give you a ISBN number and upload the books to all of the mainstream bookstores for $99.99, plus 10% commission on each sale.
Developing ebooks to suite the next generation of format is certainly not cheap and few tools are publicly available. This is one of the best ones on the market and companies like Orion, Octopus, Good Housekeeping, and Time-Life Books all use it.