Making interactive or fixed-layout ebooks? Try PubCoder.

It’s not easy to make ebooks that look and feel exactly like print books. But it is possible if you try tools like PubCoder and know a little about ebook production.

A fixed-layout ebook (right) looks and works like its print counterpart (left)


Unlike other tools (e.g. PressBooks, InDesign) PubCoder focuses on making it easier to create fixed-layout, interactive ebooks. Your book can be an iBook, an Android ebook, a Kindle fixed-layout ebook, or even an HTML5 web app.

screenshot 1

Not Here, by Sophie Natta (illustrator) and Fabrizio Bonaga (animator). Touch the title page to read.

Made with PubCoder, Not Here (Sophie Natta and Fabrizio Bonaga) is “a reading experience that pushes the boundaries between technology, design and visual poetry”

Not Here is interactive in that:

[it] takes full advantage of the multitouch capabilities of the iPad. Listen, touch, pinch, swipe and turn pages…

screenshot 3

Swipe the window to interact with the story.

Not Here is on iBooks and Google Play. If you know how to use ut here’s the .epub file. Remember that iOS-specific functions won’t necessarily work on your non-iOS platform.

I want to write about I found inside the .epub file if there’s enough interest. Expect plenty of screenshots and lots of complaints about platform-specific annoyances.

After a free 30-day trial, PubCoder comes at a price. It’ll cost you99€ – €599 a year (for the enterprise version), so be sure you understand how interactive/fixed-layout EPUB works before licensing the software. Or contact me to learn how!

If you already use InDesign PubCoder can import layouts and assets from Adobe InDesign CC 2015 (11.3) or later, and you’ll need an active Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

There are some PubCoder-specific concepts to learn, such as Counter and Smart objects. Others, such as Quiz widgets and Gesture recognizers, aren’t as arcane. The Gesture recognizer, for example:

…allows you to create a sensible [means, an area that can detect things] area on the stage invisible to the user but capable of detecting [the gestures]…

There’s already a basic guide to PubCoder available, though I don’t think that book is worth the price tag. Plenty of documentation that can get you started right on the PubCoder web site.

Let’s get fixed on interacting with books! That’s a terrible catchphrase.


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