Illustrations And Text In Ebooks

With the exploding popularity of ebooks, especially with Google’s announcement this week of selling their ebooks thru Indie bookstores, it’s time to address this subject. Illustrations in ebooks are problematic. Unlike printed books, which require a skilled book designer to meticulously layout and place illustrations, especially in nonfiction books. Tables and the like must be kept with their pertinent text.

Ebooks have the unfortunate reality of an ever-changing playing field, which makes the placement of illustrations more difficult. Those who use their e-readers have the ability to vary the font type and size. The e-publishers have strict submission requirements to make the ebooks as simple as possible so they can be translated into the various e-reader formats readily.

This is why one must work closely with the ebook publisher or distributor in order to give one’s illustrations the best possible chance of successfully working with the text of all the e-reader formats. In addition, there is the issue of color, especially important for children’s picture books. I believe the newest iPads may have a color capability. As fast as the technology changes, I think most of the e-readers will have this capability in the not-to-distant future.

Finally, unlike print books, which encourage careful font selection, drop caps, and chapter head designs, ebooks require the use of only the most universal of fonts and as few text styles as necessary to universally support the various e-reader formats.  This means the designer must be able to accommodate both print and ebook styles in their designs. Ebooks are simplistic enough for most anyone to produce a Word version of their book formatted to the ebook translator software’s requirements; however, some would rather not bother and leave this to a designer.

Ebook illustrations and text are important subjects to keep on top of as the emerging technology has the potential to affect their structure and requirements. It’s important to read industry newsletters and magazines to stay current on digital developments.


This is a reprint from Bob Spear‘s Book Trends.

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