Quark: the Universal Publisher

As I mentioned in a previous post, freelance designers and book production people have this tremendous opportunity in front of them: make tons of money by converting the tens of thousands of existing books from QuarkXPress format to electronic media.

Quark is making this easier than ever before by adding one-click eBook export capabilities to QuarkXPress and Quark Publishing System (QPS). Just last week, they announced an XTension and service for QuarkXPress and QPS that enables publishers to create an iPad app and then populate it with ongoing issues of a publication. Read about it here.

But here’s the thing: Apple’s iPad is very, very nice — but is it the eBook reader of choice? Maybe… only time will tell. (I find it noteworthy that Apple no longer highlights “reading books” in their ads for the iPad.) How about the Kindle, Nook, or other eBook readers? Are they here to stay, or will they be replaced by newer technologies? And where does that leave the publisher with an investment in one eBook technology over another?

The beautiful thing about Quark’s approach is that it’s “platform agnostic” — in other words, if your content is in QuarkXPress or QPS, then outputting to any new or newly-dominant format will be relatively simple. If the EPUB format is what you’re after, Quark supports it. Same for PDF.

But if you want LOTS more interactivity in your exported document, look to the Blio format, whose reader is included on all the most popular Windows boxes, Android, soon on the iPad/iPhone (it’s being reviewed by Apple right now), and will be on Macs in a few months. From what I can tell, this will be THE format to support if you want a successful, interactive book. (IT Enquirer wraps it up nicely in this post.)

One of the killer features of the Blio format is that QuarkXPress and QPS will soon be able to export complete, beautiful layouts to Blio in one click (just like making a PDF). In addition, you can add all the rich media features you want, including audio, video, slideshows, Web pages, hyperlinks, and so forth. You can also define a read order, which enables the Blio reader to reflow your text and graphics in a user-controllable interface. Watch a three-minute video of it in action here.

The fun (and freeing) part is that you can do all of this from within QuarkXPress, with Quark’s legendary easy-to-use interface.

Personally, I’m looking forward to creating rich eBooks from some of the printed books I’ve had the pleasure of creating. They’ll be able to reach a broader audience, generate new income for the author, and add powerful value for each reader!