What is an Ebook?
An ebook is a digital version of a printed book. It can be very useful to distribute your title across wide-ranging marketplaces online like Amazon or Smashwords. You can think of an ebook as a mini-website, in the sense that it displayed text and images for a specific device with specific ways of interpreting different file formats. You might notice that some websites display differently when viewed on different web browsers, and this is also common with ebooks.
When we create an ebook, we are creating an HTML file that will contain all the text and images of your manuscript or print-ready PDF and redesigning it from scratch. This is not a one-click process whereby we convert a file automatically, it is the opposite and takes a while to get it all done correctly and pass validation.
We recommend you have a look at this article from Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing that will give you some examples of what elements are contained in ebooks and how they work in a reflowable format.
What is Validation?
In order for an ebook to conform to the standards set forth by the IDPF, all ebooks must be validated using a tool that checks the source code of an ebook to ensure it meets specific standards. This is a technical process, and our developers and designers know what to do in order to get validated. You will need a validated ebook if you intend on selling on major marketplaces like Amazon.
Check if your ebook meets validation using this link.
Devices and Reader Preferences
A good thing about ebooks is that readers have the ability to modify certain elements of the book like increasing font size, changing background colours and font colours, and viewing pages in various orientations. This means that one person may open an ebook on their device and it will display differently than on someone else’s device because of their reader preferences. It’s important to think about your intended audience when deciding on what kind of ebook you want to make available for your readers, and what features will be useful for them to have access to.
What Types of Ebooks Do We Make?
We produce ebooks in two common formats that encompass the digital book market in general. Most devices like mobile phones and tablets will read an Epub file, whereas Amazon has their own proprietary ebook file format known as Mobi.
Reflowable or Fixed Layout
Reflowable ebooks adapt to the device they are viewed on. This means you can change things like font sizes and the lines and text on pages will automatically be adjusted to fit the device. We mainly produce reflowable ebooks, as they are best suited to the majority of ebook use cases.
Some examples of reflowable ebooks are: paperbacks, textbooks, research papers, user guides
The opposite of reflowable is fixed layout, and this means most features like font size adjustments are not possible. The pages within the ebook will be displayed in the format they were designed in, allowing for pages to maintain a specific layout and structure at all times across devices. These types of ebooks look best on devices with large screen sizes, like tablets and laptops.
Some examples of fixed layout ebooks are: comic books, children’s books, scanned books
Epub2 or Epub3
Our standard ebook version is now Epub3 as this is the latest file format defined by IDPF, and includes more features than Epub2. Here is a great article about the differences between the two formats.
Here is a more technical article about the release notes from IDPF on Epub3.
Which Epub Version is Better?
We recommend Epub2 for simple to medium complexity layout books, or when you’re trying to meet a specific file format for a specific distribution platform.
We recommend Epub3 when you need advanced features with rich navigation support, accessibility support, and embedding of audio and video support.
What is a Mobi Ebook?
Mobi is Amazon’s particular format that is proprietary to Kindle readers. You will need a mobi file if you intend to distribute your ebook through Amazon and make it available to Kindle devices.
What Ebook Reader Should I Use to Approve a Proof?
We recommend you use Amazon’s Kindle Previewer 3 to view your ebook or Mobi file to approve proofs.
Why Don’t I See Changes Reflected on my Revised Ebook Proof
This is a very common problem that we encounter and it’s because you need to delete all previous versions of the ebook in your library before importing or trying to open your new ebook proof. If you don’t do this, your software will likely open the previous version that was stored in memory.
Why Do Colours Look Different on Ebooks Than in PDFs?
E-readers will require RGB images in order to get validated, this means you can’t have CMYK elements in an ebook file. Validation is a process that ensures all IDPF standards are met, and all of our ebooks meet this standard. Remember, we require CMYK images for printing your book, whereas with an ebook, it’s the opposite, and we convert anything that is CMYK to RGB before validation occurs.