eBook Design vs. Print Design

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eBook Design vs. Print Design

Turgay Birand

August 5, 2012

When converting printed books to eBooks, a complaint we receive from publishers often is, 'the eBook design looks nothing like the original design of the print book!' While trying to address this concern, we've come to see how important and fundamental a task it is to clearly explain the differences between print books and eBooks, as many publishers are yet to become privy to this knowledge. If the root of this problem is not addressed properly, many will be reluctant to enter the eBook market if at all. The main issue boils down to one fact: print books have static designs and layouts, while most eBook designs are dynamic in nature. A print book will come out of the press looking pretty much exactly the same way it looked on the screen. However, eBooks can have  dynamic font face, font size, layout and even content depending on the medium it's being viewed on as well as how it was created. Users will be reading eBooks on a myriad of different devices, including but not limited to; cell phones, tablet devices, HD Tvs and desktop computers, all with varying screen resolutions and dpi (dot per inch) sizes. This will undoubtedly force the user to adjust one or more of the attributes I just outlined to maximize their reading experience. Add to this interactive content you could never have on print books such as audio, video and even games, the difference of nature becomes even more obvious. So just by looking at the dynamic nature of eBooks, it's actually quite easy to realize why it's a futile attempt to try and reproduce the exact same "look and feel" you get on a print book when creating eBooks. In fact, it only serves to slow down the propagation of original works into the digital world because of the bottleneck created by pursuing this fruitless endeavor. When starting out on a conversion, it's much more healthy to consider an eBook as a completely different and new product with similar content to the print version.  While the layout and design might change, what really matters is the preservation of the content within the original work in a way that still makes sense in a dynamic setting offered by eBooks. And as we've all come to know by now: "Content is King!" so it's always best to focus on that. The simple fact is, the requirements and constraints of the digital world are very different from the world of the press. Just look at newspapers in their original print form a decade ago and the websites they now have today. They're far more richer, more dynamic and adaptable. The same rules will continue to apply to eBooks, which consequently have been based on web technologies and standards to conform to these rules as completely as possible.  

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