BOOK DESIGN in an E-BOOK WORLD

I’m convinced that e-books eventually will replace printed books as the world’s primary reading material.

And before you say it: just because you don’t want to cuddle up in bed with an e-book, don’t assume, don’t assert, that others share that attitude.

Wide acceptance of e-books largely depends upon functional reading devices but limited distribution of printed books is an even larger issue. Sure, print-on-demand offers a solution but what happens when the quality of e-books are better and more affordable and more accessible than books printed on demand?

I already live in a part of the world where 95% of the English-languages books I want to read are not easily available. That scenario, the lack of printed reading material, really adjusts your perspective about e-books. (Meanwhile, fortunately, I am surrounded by a wealth of Spanish-language books). But I still feel the necessity of an e-book reader. Unfortunately, international shipping to Argentina is not reliable and there’s a huge import tax on electronics. So, my e-book reader will have to wait until some future visit to North America.

What is the future of book design in an e-book world? Very healthy.

Book design, layout, and typography will continue to play the same role in producing e-books as in printed books. Indeed, one could argue that readability may be an even more important factor with e-books. New possibilities with layout and presentation also may be presented through e-book readers. Of course, there will be limitations and some books just will not be as presentable through e-book readers as in their printed counterparts. Essentially, book designers already produce every printed book as an e-book anyway. In all cases, the final production files delivered to the printer are digital files and almost always in PDF. So, there is still plenty need for book designers in an e-book world.

What about book cover design? Very healthy.

The cover image will continue to play an important marketing role in helping people select which e-books to read. Just as with printed books, e-books need some way of standing out in the crowd.

And what about printed books in an e-book world?

People will still want to buy books, but my thinking is that people will be more interested in spending money on specialized books, books not available digitally, books that offer an experience, books that involve a high degree of design.

So, we may be book designers but that doesn’t mean we’re traditionalists. Of course, in a sense, book design is not so much about the book but about the ways that text and images are conveyed to the reader.

By |January 17th, 2008|Categories: Book Design, e-book design, publishing|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

BLOG, E-BOOK, now what?

For almost three years I’ve been writing about the cultural heritage and social history of Buenos Aires, Argentina on my blog Buenos Aires, City of Faded Elegance. Since it’s a blog by an American living in a foreign country it tends to get grouped in the travel category. I do write a lot about how to experience travel on a more meaningful level than just a cursory visit to the sights that are in every guidebook. But in my blog I purposefully avoid most mentions of restaurants and hotels. I’ve always wanted to write much more than just a traveler’s account of a few days or even a few months in one locale.

Like all blogs my own now has an extensive archive. Whenever I come across a new blog I read the latest postings and, if I like those, I add the site to my news reader. I always intend to go back and browse the archived postings but I rarely do so. Figuring that a lot of visitors to my site also never make it too far into the archives, I decided to pull together a selection of postings from my archives and create a free e-book. It was a challenge to distill so much material down to 50 pages, which is the length I had in mind. I ended up with 57 pages.


Buenos Aires free e-book

So, I’ve taken my blog and made an e-book. What’s next?

In my blog’s archives I have enough text that could be converted to approximately 175 more pages. With some editing and arrangement there is certainly more than enough material to produce an insightful book on Buenos Aires. But no one wants to read a 225 page e-book. I certainly don’t (unless I have a nifty e-book reader) and am not intending to release a PDF like that (and definitely not for free).

There’s always the self-publishing route and a lot of our clients here at sorodesign take that approach. I know enough about self-publishing that it wouldn’t be difficult to produce some sales directly from blog.

I was just calculating the year-end stats of my blog for 2007 and it amounts to about 80,000 unique visitors a year coming to my blog on Buenos Aires. Argentina’s weak economy has resulted in a tourism boom so I’m always getting a lot of new readers to the blog seeking out things to do in Buenos Aires.

My inclination is to query literary agents and see what type of response I get. I’ll post updates on this blog about my own success or failure in going from blog to book.

BTW, Cecilia did the page layout for the e-book and she will be posting later about the actual layout.

By |December 8th, 2007|Categories: publishing|Tags: , |2 Comments

TRAVEL GUIDES by the chapter

If you travel a lot then you know the problem of carrying around guidebooks: they can be large and you often don’t use half the chapters in the book. A travel guide friend of mine actually recommends ripping out the pages that you don’t want from a guidebook in order to make it lighter, easier to carry around.

Lonely Planet is introducing downloadable chapters of its guidebooks. The price of each chapter varies but it seems to be around $2.50 or so. It reminds me of the TravelFish guides to southeast Asia that we wrote about last month.


lonely planet

So far, Lonely Planet only has chapters from its Latin American guidebooks available for download. This concept is particularly good for travelers on the road. In many countries it’s very difficult to find English-language travel books.

By |July 25th, 2007|Categories: e-book design, publishing|Tags: , |3 Comments

WHERE’S the FEED?

I was over at the Book Standard site, looking at their news entries, and decided that I wanted to subscribe to a feed of their news stories. On the main news page of Book Standard I looked around in vain for some indication of a news feed. Finally, when I clicked on one of the news items and got to the next page then I saw the RSS/XML indicator for the feed.

Okay, all is good, or so I thought.

Usually when you click on the RSS/XML label then you’re prompted to subscribe to the feed. News feeds generally start with the latest items, what the site is publishing today. I have over 400 feeds in my Bloglines and it’s my main way of keeping track of what’s happening on the net.

Yet, Book Standard doesn’t seem to understand the concept of feeds. At Book Standard when you click on the RSS/XML label you get a pop-up window that asks you which feed you want to subscribe to from VNU eMedia. Uh, I just wanted Book Standard, what the heck is VNU eMedia? (Actually, I know what it is but why do they assume everyone does?):

vnuemedia.jpg

Here you get the options for most VIEWED stories, most EMAILED stories, most PRINTED stories, and most SAVED stories. Hey, I just want the LATEST stories…just like every other feed on the net. And, really guys, why do people care about the most printed stories? That might be an interesting statistic for internal use but you really think it needs a feed?

Why make it complicated?

And since I’m picking on the Book Standard, why did the Book Standard shut down Book Trailerpark?

I just worry about a publishing conglomerate that doesn’t seem to understand online publishing.

By |July 4th, 2007|Categories: publishing|Tags: |Comments Off on WHERE’S the FEED?