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

David Derbes loki at uchicago.edu
Sat Jan 28 11:27:34 EST 2012

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). My interest was increased by the recent release of Apple's iBooks Author. 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. There are also noxious aspects to the End User License Agreement; see John Gruber's blog Daring Fireball for some discussion and links. 

Another possibility is Mathematica's CDF. The downside is that the reader is huge (half a gigabyte) and it seems not to render text all that well. 

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?

Any advice would be welcome. My ETA on finishing the book is probably not for another two or three years. This is done in my spare time, and mostly there isn't any. :-(

David Derbes
University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

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