Kimberly Hitchens is the founder and owner of Booknook.biz, an ebook production company that has produced books for over 750 authors and imprints.
For the next few weeks, during our busy season, I'll be reproducing bits and pieces of our free "eBookery:101" handbook that we give away to all clients and prospective clients. If you want a complete copy for yourself, you can download it for free from our Knowledgebase, at: http://j.mp/VzC7dq . Please note: this is not a "how-to make your own ebook" manual, but, rather a simple basic explanation of ebook fundamentals and things a beginning epublisher should know. It's not all-inclusive, and it's not a beginner's guide to self-publishing, either, although we do have some marketing tips in there as well. Thanks!
What are the basic ebook formats?There are really only two remaining ebook formats, of the numerous types that were floating around some years ago.
- The first and foremost, in terms of commercial sales, are the Kindle format(s), those being mobi, prc (old) and azw. Colloquially, these are called "mobi" by most people in the business.
- The second, used by Apple, Adobe Digital Editions, Nook, Google Editions, Diesel, Kobo, etc., is epub. Epub allows greater design flexibility than mobi, because it uses a more advanced level of htm.
What are the limits of ebooks?To start with, there are some basics:
- No backgrounds or background images can be used on any ebook that will be converted into Kindle (Mobi) format for the e-ink devices. The newer devices, and the Kindle Fire tablet, do support this capability.
- Text boxes or pull-quotes will have to be formatted differently than in print.
- Images in Kindle e-ink volumes can't be wrapped inside paragraphs, but can have this in ePUB format and in the newer Kindle devices and Fire Tablet.
- You can’t put text over an image in an Amazon Mobi book that will display on the legacy e-ink devices.
- You can only use tables that are about 3 columns wide, and very few rows.
Many graphic elements, like characters from foreign languages, can’t be used. Generally, we recommend that most indices be omitted, or simply entered without page numbers. Almost every ebook reader out there has a great search function. This makes it better for your readers and less expensive for you!
Is it true that readers can change how my book looks?
In almost all reading devices, users can change the font size. In the Kindle, the font can be changed from the default size of 3 down to the smallest size of 1 and the largest size of 8. You may see two samples, below, of the same page of “The Prince and the Pauper,” shown at two vastly different reader-selected font sizes. (Click to enlarge images)
|Figure 1 - Sample of Kindle e-ink device text, Font Size 1 (From the Prince and the Pauper, formatted by Ignacio Fernández Galván and used with his kind permission)|
|Figure 2 - a sample page of the same Kindle e-ink text at Font Size 1. Same book--nothing different except, the human reader wanted a larger font size!|
In many ereading devices, the human reader can even change the font style. This will also affect how the book looks, not only in the font. This will change the spacing between letters and words, changing your book yet again.
Next time: Text reflows, or wraps, and, what about those footnotes?
Thanks, guys! Remember, if you want the entire 80-page PDF, replete with images and a linked Table of Contents, bookmarks, etc., go here: http://j.mp/VzC7dq