[OS X TeX] eBooks with LaTex and ... ?

Axel Kielhorn tex at axelkielhorn.de
Sun Jan 29 12:25:38 CET 2012

Am 28.01.2012 um 17:27 schrieb David Derbes:

> For several years now I've been working on the Great American Teach Yourself Physics text which I plan to give away on line. It's all in LaTeX (of course), with diagrams via Mathematica and Illustrator. 
> Since I expect that readers (if any) will probably read it electronically, it would be helpful to include dynamic illustrations (as you might expect, there's quite a bit of basic calculus in it).

Dynamic illustration sounds nice, but there are few ebook readers capable of handling that.
You are limiting the audience to iBook, Kindle Fire and Android tablet users.
Most ebook readers are rather underpowered and eInk isn't suitable for animation.

> My interest was increased by the recent release of Apple's iBooks Author.

I haven't used it yet (being still on Snow Leopard), but you should keep in mind that this is a commercial tool by one company designed to created profit for that company.
It is not an open/free/libre eBook creator.

> So I'm looking into various formats. It then occurred to me that quite a bit of expertise was to be found right here.

> The early indications with respect to Apple's Author are not good. There seems to be no LaTeX support at all.

This is hardly a surprise.

> There are also noxious aspects to the End User License Agreement;

Which shouldn't bother you if you want to give it away.

> Maybe this is simply an idea that has yet to be well implemented. I'm hoping for an Open Source ebook creator that supports LaTeX and execution of some sort of code, maybe Python. If there isn't such a tool, maybe someone is working on one?

That depends on your definition of "supports".

About a year ago, I accidentally discovered pandoc.

It is basically a markdown to anything converter.
In addition to markdown it handles raw LaTeX, thus math can be set using LaTeX (and AMS) environments.
In addition to LaTeX and ePub it will create odt, docx or docbook output.
How much math survives depends on the output format. (This may be bad news for ePub output.)
There is even a LaTeX reader which can be used to convert the original LaTeX document to markdown. But be prepared to lose math, images and tables.

There is an article in the TUGboat 32:3 (2011) that describes the use of pandoc to generate LaTeX output.
(There are articles about converting LaTeX to ePub and using PDF on various ebook readers as well.)


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