eBook Conversion

eBook conversion for Kindle and ePub readers

eBooks: What works, what doesn’t

The simple answer to this question is that anything text-centric – content that doesn’t rely on layout or graphic elements – looks great on an eBook. By ‘text-centric’ I’m referring to things like novels, biographies, poetry and essays.

What doesn’t work are formats where the precise placement of text and graphics is important to the reader’s experience; comic books, technical manuals, most textbooks, and magazine and newspaper layouts. The control over placement of graphics in ePub format is rudimentary; in Kindle format it’s almost non-existent. There’s also no support for things like mathematical formulae and the fixed-width formats common in computer manuals when code is displayed.

Couple that with the relatively small size of screens in eBook readers and you leave your reader with a very unsatisfying experience. At this point in time, these kind of books are better served by print and – if you’re publishing independently – you may want to look at options such as printing on demand.

There is a kind of workaround here and it’s PDF, which most (if not all) eReaders support. Although you have precise control over layout, it effectively fixes the size of the text, which is at best an annoyance and at worst a serious accessibility issue. A few eReaders let you resize text in a PDF – assuming you’ve used Adobe Acrobat Professional and you’ve outputted the PDF in a certain way – but it’s not a sensible option at the moment. (PDF is, however, a great option for your own personal use, if you use a text size you’re personally comfortable with.)

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