Tuesday, December 11, 2012

eBookery 101: Part 2

By:  Kimberly Hitchens is the founder and owner of Booknook.biz, an ebook production company that has produced books for over 750 authors and imprints.

On my last post, "Ebookery 101: The Handbook," which you can see by clicking HERE, I talked about the very fundamentals of ebooks--what are the basic formats,  what are ebook limits, and explained a bit about how readers can change how your book looks.  This week, I'm going to show you how text reflows--wraps--and talk about footnotes and indices.

Text Reflows--or Wraps

When we say that text “reflows,” we mean that when a user changes the font size, or the font, the text adjusts. If the font is bigger, there will be fewer words per line, and fewer per page. From beginning to end, the text changes to suit what the user has asked it to do. You can see examples above, in Figures 1 and 2, of how a book looks just by changing the font size. The screen will display fewer words, which means that the next paragraph will have moved to the next page.

In this page/screen from "The Prince and The Pauper," at a smaller size font, you can see how many lines are viewable in the reading pane (the white "page" area).
In this shot, we've kept the reading pane exactly the same size, but our reader has enlarged the font, so it's easier for him to read.  You can see how many fewer words there are per line, and how many fewer lines are now visible in the same space.  The other lines have now "reflowed" to the next screen.

This is what we mean when we say that text "reflows" and that it is very difficult to try to control what a user sees at any given time. Ebooks are not like PDFs or print, and it will be very helpful for you to understand this early in the process so you can learn not to worry about things that cannot be controlled.

What about my Footnotes?  My Index?

Ebooks work like old-fashioned webpages.  What goes on behind the scenes is just one big long scrolling webpage. This means that "pages," as we think of them, are an illusion.  There are no pages in ebooks.

Experienced ebook formatters know how to use coding to provide the appearance of page breaks before Chapters, and white space to show scenebreaks. This helps create the illusion of pages. 

Footnotes can't be put at the bottom of a "page," like we do in print, because there are no pages.  Therefore there is no "bottom of a page."  But you can put your footnotes as endnotes to your chapter or to the book, whichever you prefer.  Sometimes, if there are only a very few notes in the whole book, you might like to just use a bracketed number right there in the sentence. [1]Like this, to cite the footnote. A good formatter, like Booknook.biz, can do whatever you like best.

For an Index, Use Search

As we discussed above, instead of linked indices, it is often better to use the built-in search function that is available on most devices.  By the time of this writing, it might be available on every device.
When you use linked indexes, the only thing that the page numbers can link to is the page where the text used to be in your Word file.  In the ebook, when a user clicks that, it might be several "screens" away from where the word is actually used.  (This is due to how Word sets the index links when you generate them automatically).  You can see how this could frustrate your reader.  This is why we recommend not using linked indexes.  If you want them, we (or any other formatter) are happy to provide them, but please give the matter some thought.  Remember that you want your reader to have the best possible experience.  Not only that, but not using linked indices is a huge cost-savings for  you!

A user on an iPad simply highlights a word and hits search, and...

The results pop up!  Your readers can search for index items, from within a typed index, exactly the same way.

Are we having fun yet?  By the way, the book presented on the iPad screenshots, for demonstrating the "search" functions, is by some practically unknown author named L.J. Sellers.  (ha!) Thanks, L.J.!  This is from her wonderful book, "The Baby Thief," which is a "don't miss." 

Next time, well, you're getting a rerun, as my next blog is due on Christmas Day.  Given the slew of books that have hit our doorstep here at ye olden Booknook.biz, that are expected out before Christmas, I fully expect to be unconscious on Christmas Day. I intend to rerun Cover Design Calypso, Part 1, which originally appeared on my own website in April of 2010--and is truer today than it was then.  Covers matter! 

Happy Holidays to all, and I'll see you in 2013. 
--- Hitch


  1. Love all the great information! I learn something from you every time we interact. Honestly, I'm worried that my new publisher won't produce the same quality of ebook as you do.

    And thanks for the shout out! I'm doing a giveaway of The Baby Thief on Amazon tomorrow.

  2. Same here, L.J. I always learn something new from Hitch's posts. Thanks, Hitch!

  3. Thanks for more great tips on formatting for ebooks, Hitch!

  4. I really appreciate this information.


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