CONSIDERING AN EBOOK?
Deciding that you want to format and sell your manuscript as an ebook will involve a number of technical considerations. The market in ebooks has exploded. What started out as a fairly simple set of choices – offer the book as a file compatible with Kindle or Nook – continues to expand, offering readers more and more choices. Today ebooks can be read on other devices: iPads, Android and Windows phones, Sony readers, and computers. Newer, faster and more accommodating platforms continue to appear. It will take some thought and planning to successfully convert your manuscript to an accessible ebook.
The process starts here. It is important to be certain that your manuscript has been thoroughly proofed and edited before you start the ebook process. Once your file has been converted, revisions may be costly. Acceptable source files usually include: MS Word, Readable PDF, InDesign or HTML. The text must be readable and able to be searched as text.
PRINT VS. EBOOK
Be aware that there are differences in the design and preparation of files for ebooks and books that appear in print. The difference is found primarily in the flow of pages. Text on a printed page is locked in forever – ink on paper. Text in a Reflowable Format ebook may flow from page to page depending on the size and style of the type chosen by the reader. Conversion to a Fixed Format locks pages and illustrations, graphs etc. into place. Typefaces and page number design and placement may be restricted in some ebook formats.
Facing pages are a design consideration in printed books, with tradition indicating that certain categories of pages in the front matter or back matter begin specifically on right hand – recto– (odd numbered) or left hand – verso– (even numbered) pages. Often blank pages are inserted in the document to force these pages into the proper position. Ebook pages are generally viewed one page at a time so blanks are not needed since facing pages is a non-issue.
You will need to decide whether you want to offer the book in a single format (eg. Mobi for the Amazon Kindle reader) or in a format that can be read on many digital devices (e.g. ePUB which is used by Apple’s iBooks, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Sony Readers, etc.) or both. If you decide to offer your ebook in both formats so that it may be read on many different devices, it is cost effective to order conversion to both the Mobi and ePUB formats at the same time.
Your second decision will generally involve choosing between two styles of file conversion–Reflowable or Fixed formatting. The level of complexity plus the number of pages involved will dictate the cost of the formatting process. Note: Though inexpensive or free programs are available for authors’ use, a truly professional product is not always the result.
-REFLOWABLE LOW COMPLEXITY FORMATTING: This style is most appropriate for simple text-only books with no illustrations, graphs, etc. This format easily accommodates the text reflow that occurs as readers change the type size and style at will.
-REFLOWABLE MEDIUM OR HIGH COMPLEXITY FORMATTING: Books containing graphic images or charts that comprise no more than 30% of the overall page count and need to be consistently linked with the information they describe would fall into this category.
-FIXED FORMATTING: Fixed formatting locks in the contents of each page so that no reflow can occur and all elements are firmly connected and fixed in place. Not all e-readers accept fixed format ebooks. The most common Fixed layout formats are KF8 and Kindle Textbook Creator for Amazon Kindle devices; ePUB3 for Apple, Google and Kobo devices; and PagePerfect and Nook Kids for Barnes and Noble’s Nook.
Therefore, if you want to reach the widest possible audience, Reflowable Formatting is your best option if it won’t interfere with the concept and flow of your text.
The ISBN, which is used by booksellers, libraries and browsers to identify specific versions of books available for purchase or use, should be different for each version of your book. It is not unusual for a publishing effort to require four or five different ISBNs: Print (hardcover, softcover), PDF (web access), and MOBI and ePUB. Planning ahead allows the author to list all of the different ISBN’s assigned to the book on the copyright page of each version so that readers are aware of their different options. Readers with a hardbound version may also want to purchase an ebook version for use when they travel. Conversely, readers with an ebook may also want a more durable print version of the book.
Last but not least is determining who will distribute your ebooks to customers through the various vendors. Who will determine the price of the book? What will the fulfillment service cost you? When will you be paid and how much? Do your homework and be aware of the wide variety of options open to you. Discuss this with your Publishing Consultant.