Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

Get Fancy With eBook Design at Your Own Risk - A Practical Example

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So You Want to Make an eBook?Sometimes my clients for eBook conversion ask me why I don't do fancy with converted eBooks.  When I tell them it's because I want to be able to guarantee a consistent reading experience across all devices, sometimes they'll say that they only care about the modern eBook readers.

That's actually not a bad point.  Try using Gmail with the "basic HTML" interface, and you'll see this isn't just a piddly thing.  But that's not enough.

Please note - while Barnes & Noble is used in this example, that's simply because I like nooks better than Kindles.  I've seen this same problem show up across different Kindle apps/devices.

I just finished reading the latest Dresden Files novel (it was great if you're already a fan!).  I ended up reading a bunch of it on my nook Touch, though I ended up reaching the end on my iPhone, in the nook application.

With me so far?  Same eBook.  From the same store.  Official app from that store.  And yet:


That's not because of scrolling or anything else. The "fancy" styling behind the word "Chapter" simply shows up as a black box on the official app on the iPhone. (There are also some problems with drop cap rendering on both devices that showed up, but you get the point.)

This is actually a relatively minor issue - you understand that "Ten" in big letters by itself at the top of a virtual page is probably the chapter number.   It's also an avoidable issue.  

Again let me stress:  I have seen this same kind of error on all sorts of devices and applications.  No store or format or app is immune.

I take that back.  There is one way to avoid this kind of problem:  Keep it as simple as possible.  Remember that you are working with reflowable text.  Remember that eBook layout is fundamentally different than print layout... except for one thing:  When the layout detracts from the text of the book, you've failed.

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