This is not an easy task, but if you plan beforehand, I think it's feasible to mantain a "master" file, both for print and ePUB. It really depends on the complexity of your layout. For already laid out docs, this could be a real problem.
Nonetheless, it's not a very efficient/scalable approach at all. There's no escape from heavily editing the ePUB XHTML code (and images) after export. Kindle files are another story, but you can generate them from your finished ePUB – with more code editing, of course.
Some links/docs to get you started:
First of all: With the latest version of InDesign we have to do a lot of additional work outside of InDesign to get better CSS and to repair some shortcomings.
Second: It is very important to use the latest version, because Adobe has improved the epub export with CS5.5 and another time with CS6 and it is to expect that Adobe will go forward this path in the future.
To prepair files for print and epub (which is possible) to following:
1. Work complete with Paragraph Styles, Character Styles and Object Styles
2. Define in CS6 the export tagging.
3. Avoid complete manual overwriting of style atributes, use another style instead.
4. Set up good CSS, some HTML know how is necessery and a HTML editor
5. Test the epub on several readers and on a multitude of devices
6. Don't expect that the epbu will look the same as the printed product, it will not look the same in every program and on any device, different devices or programs will use different fonts.
Thanks PageLab. I appreciate you taking the time to respond.
Yes, I am getting the impression my existing books will have to be laid out a second time for the digital versions. Would take more work to jiggle the around to support both than it would to just set up a second book for digital.
I will check out all the links you have kindly posted. Thanks.
Thank you Willi. I appreciate your detailed step-by-step reply.
I am not clear on what step 2 refers to. But I suspect some of the links PageLab posted will likely go into what "export tags" are.
Step 3 is also a little unclear to me. Perhaps once I get into the process it will be self-evident.
I am going to see if I can find a lightweight html editor for Mac. I didn't install DW as it seemed too bulky for something I almost never need to use.
6. Yes, thanks for pointing this out. I expect my digital version to look rather lacking in class compared to the beautiful print version. Such is the life on ebook readers. (Not that I miss formal layout and decent typography when I am reading books on my Nook).
Step 2: have a look in the paragraph and character style dialog. You need to define which HTML-tag with css class and PDF-tag will represent this paragraph in exported epubs, html and pdf. When you create a css you will define the design of these tags and classes.
In printed design we are often tweaking paragraphs to fill pages or to reduce the number of pages, if only a view words are missing or are to much. An often used method is to extend or reduce tracking. Often done manually. But those things will cause manuall overricde classes in exported ePubs and html. But for screen reader is not a need to save or extend space. Here it is more important to have a common and clear font design. So it is better in this example to use another paragraph style with the different tracking but which belongs to the same tag and class as the main text, so that the different tracking for the printed book will not have any unwanted influence to the design of the epub and html.
Good is also BareBones BBEdit which can work in the XHTML files inside of an epub without extracting the zip file.
Thank you both for the tips. I have BBEdit, so I'll work with that, and will check out Textwrangler.
I'll be working on this project this week, so I may post a few questions here if I get stuck on something.