Pia Pol: Digitizing Context Without Walls, Creating EPubs Through the EPubster Generator


The publishing house Valiz publishes Context Without Walls (CWW), a series of book publications focused on the work of artists from all over the world. The books in this series are multilingual, rich in images and text, and the design is meticulous. From the first publication in this series, Common Skin, Valiz and their designers have attempted to create a digital version.

It goes without saying that many difficulties arise when converting a publication like Common Skin to the digital realm. How do you deal with the richness of the visual language and the textual design of the book version? What kind of format should be used? How can you make keywords link to the indexes of the book? And what to do with all the footnotes of each publication? As part of the Digital Publishing Toolkit Initiative Valiz worked on the Epubster Generator tool to tackle these questions.

With the Epubster Generator, an open source software tool for editing and designing ebooks, a publisher can create EPub3s with a wide range of extensive image and design options. But there is more, the Epubster Generator

  • it’s ePubs can be sold to different platforms – a common problem of digital publishing
  • its style sheets can be amended and reused for different styles to create series
  • you can add style sheets and metadata – the latter is particularly important if you want to sell the book
  • you can use hyperlinks in text
  • both markdown and rich text can be used
  • changes in text and image can be made directly in the program

Pol explains that their focus has been on developing a tool that is both easy to use and sustainable. However, there are some more style and design problems that they need to tackle. How to deal with the page divisions and centrefolds that are a crucial part of Common Skin? And how can we make it completely bug-free? These are questions Pia Pol and her team will be working on and seek solutions to during the last leg of the Digital Publishing Toolkit development period.

You can find a PDF of her original presentation here: Presentation Pia Pol