I work in academic publishing (mostly textbooks). I'm a graphic designer and I've been working with interactive books since 2010. The present situation in the production and distribution of interactive books sucks. And I must say I am perplexed by Adobe's decisions and strategies. Using Adobe's tools and technologies, it seems impossible to create interactive textbooks that can be sold and distributed to a large audience.
Let me explain what I'm talking about and tell me if this is your situation... Am I missing something?
I - Interactive PDFs suck
If you want to create an interactive PDF that you want to distribute freely and that people will read on their computer, it's great. You have a lot of tools to create interactivity, navigation, place videos, sounds and such. Rich creative tools, easy to use... It's great. But if you want to read this great interactive PDF you created... on a tablet (this is what an eBook is supposed to allow, isn't it?), then you're screwed. On the iPad, the Adobe Reader can't read videos, sounds, forms and obviously anything made in Flash technology. You can only use hyperlinks and construct some kind of navigation. This makes a very lame "interactive book".
Sure, you can use PDF Expert or ezPDF Reader to read the videos and use the forms in your interactive PDF but what if you want to sell the book (you know, to pay the salaries of your employees, etc.)?
If you want to sell the book, you have two options :
OPTION 1-Sell it without DRM and ask everybody to please not distribute it illegaly (...and if you know anything about human nature, this is a lost cause) or...
OPTION 2-Sell it with a DRM, which makes your PDF impossible to read in an application that handles video or any kind of interactivity. So you're stuck trying to sell an "interactive" PDF that's basically just a normal PDF. Interactive PDFs suck.
II - EPUBS suck
Epubs are excellent for novels and books without any fancy layout. I get it. But if you want to have any control on the typography, layout and design of your book (you know, what a graphic designer does for a living), well the epub gives you none. Fixed layout epubs are difficult to work with and InDesign gives near zero tools to help making them. You have to work in the code and tweak it. So, is this the solution? Is this Adobe's answer? Zero Adobe tools and some coding in TextWrangler?
What about EPUB 3? I'm still waiting to see any good and beautiful interactive book using this technology. Even the examples on the International Digital Publishing Forum are instable.The industry is very slow in adopting this format, to say the least. It seems dead on arrival. InDesign can export to Epub3 but doesn't have any tool to help you create interactivity. It doesn't seem like Adobe is really pushing this technology anyway. EPUBS suck.
III - Digital Publishing Suite suck
DPS is fine if you want to create apps only for iPad. If you want to create content for Android, it's a little more complicated but it can be done. But if you want your interactive DPS books to be read on a PC or MAC, it seems impossible (Am I missing something?). You can't export your book to those platforms. 99% of our audience are college students. Their tool is a computer. They don't go to class with an iPad. They bring their computer. So we can't make textbooks for them. DPS sucks.
So what is the future of interactive books according to Adobe?
1-Is it the interactive PDF? Do we have to wait until the Adobe Reader can actually read interactive Adobe PDF with DRM ?
2-Is it the EPUB? Then why Adobe seem so inactive in the development of the tools that could help create good interactive epubs?
3-Is it DPS? Then is it possible to read them on a computer? If not, is Adobe aware that the whole textbook publishing industry can't use that technology?
IMO, Adobe abandoned interactive PDFs because it was mostly flash-based, it doesn't care about EPUB3 and offers some minimum support just because some designer need it and it puts all its energies in DPS and tries to create a format that it will control.
For now, interactive books design and production suck. Am I missing something?