Creating an Illustrated EBook

Are you considering republishing your children’s book, cookbook, graphic novel, crafts guide or travel book in digital format?

For these kinds of books, the ePub format—which allows words to flow from one page to another as your reader enlarges text or changes fonts—doesn’t work. The illustrations, sidebars, and photos you so carefully placed beside certain sections of your book take on a life of their own.

For such books, you need to create a fixed-layout file, one that displays each spread just as your designer originally planned.
Spread from Pinhole and the Expedition to the Jungle
Fixed-layout ebooks look great on the new tablets that everyone’s getting for Christmas (Apple iPad, B&N Nook, Kobo VOX). But they are tricky to produce, especially if you’re moving from a print book into an enhanced iBook for the iPad.

Renowned explanation graphics designer Nigel Holmes and I have been running down rabbit holes for the past year trying to get his book Pinhole and the Expedition to the Jungle into a fixed-layout format for the iPad. We finally did it.

And here are the top things we learned:

  1. There aren’t yet many vendors who know how to take a print book and turn it into an enhanced ebook for the iPad. We used YUDU, which is located in (surprise!) Great Britain. Innodata also works, I’m told.
  2. Price pressure on these books is fierce. You spend a chunk to have the book recreated for the iPad, and the market wants to pay $3.99 or less. Yike. Hopefully, all those folks who got iPads for Christmas will be looking to buy enhanced ebooks, which could drive up revenue.
  3. If you hold the iPad in landscape mode, you see an entire spread from the book–without a seam. Nice! But on the iPad’s 10-inch screen, the font you chose for your print book looks small—and on the 7-inch screen of all the other tablets, it’s unreadable. Of course, your readers can enlarge the text with their fingers, but then you lose the effect of the spreads.
  4. Every new format of a book requires a separate ISBN number. Per BISG.

For a little extra pizazz, we also laced the adventure story with sounds. If you have an iPad and would like to see the result, here’s a free peek.

6 comments to Creating an Illustrated EBook

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