Just last week I had a customer email me regarding a job I had recently done which was rejected when he tried uploading it to iTunes. Not two days later I had another customer who had her job rejected from BookBaby. BookBaby actually takes files submitted to them and uploads them to other stores such as iTunes and B&N. This latter job had been done quite some time ago so I was a bit puzzled why it had been rejected since she had already uploaded her file to other sites without having any issues.
Now mind you, whenever I create an ebook, I run it through two different programs to validate it. I use a program called Flightcrew and I also go to Threepress.org and run the file through epubcheck. Both of the problem files had passed these checks so I was wondering what was going on.
The customer who had tried uploading her file to BookBaby forwarded the email to me that they had sent her. According to their email, the stores that they uploaded to had new requirements regarding filenames and she was told that the spacing on her file was incorrect.
I subsequently renamed all the chapters in her ebook with underscores instead of spacing and the file was accepted. Now this did seem strange to me since I had seen numerous files whose chapters had spaces. This was clearly evident when viewing the navigable table of contents that shows up in many ebooks out there.
Figuring that was the cure, I then redid the other customer’s file, again substituting underscores for spaces. My customer was then able to upload the file to iTunes so I figured everything was fine. Uploading a file to iTunes, however, is just the first stage of getting an ebook on their site. It next goes thru further analysis and a few days later, I got another email from my customer telling me that the file had again been rejected. This time the issue was the underscores. iTunes did not permit them to be used.
Back to the drawing board. I’m not an HTML guru but since an ebook is basically comprised of this type of file I had to now check the code that made up the epub format and see if I could find out what the problem was. I have to give credit here to my customer who worked with me to find the problem. I made changes to the code and repeatedly sent him files to upload which he then would forward back with any error messages. After quite a bit of checking and rechecking, I was able to discover the problem.
The culprit was InDesign, the program I used to layout customer files and output to epub. You see, InDesign had been recently upgraded and their epub conversion feature had been completely revamped. Problem is, they forgot a few things. I won’t go into the technical details, but by comparing my older files done in the earlier version of InDesign to those done with the new version; I found the problem and was able to fix it.
At least that made me happy, knowing that something completely out of my control was at fault and not something I had done. But it was a royal pain figuring it out since there wasn’t much information available regarding this issue. Since this happened, I’ve emailed a friend who knows the people at Adobe and hopefully this problem will be addressed. Remember, though, that these programs are constantly being upgraded to newer and hopefully better versions, but be aware that things can happen. Sometimes the big guys get it wrong.