So, today is the day my first book, Kanzashi In Bloom, comes out in digital editions. And I’ve been burning with curiosity about how this book (which is very image-heavy and dependent on a specific layout) would translate. Talk about giving candy to a digital-publishing nerd!
We talk about this all the time in my ebook-publishing classes: craft books can present real challenges in the Kindle, Nook and iBook formats. This is because these formats are designed to be “reflowable” – if you change the font size in your display, the text will reflow to accommodate that. And when that happens, you can lose the precise relationships of text-to-image that make an instructional book work.
(For the three of you who are wondering, it’s possible to get around this, but creating ebooks for these devices involves some programming skill, especially when you need a complex layout.)
Anyway. I bought me a Kindle edition of the Kanzashi book (pretty sure that’s a write-off), and got to exploring.
I have a black and white Kindle Touch, and here you can see how a sample page displays. Random House did a nice job of setting up all the step-by-step images with their corresponding text. I did some font-size-changing and everything stayed connected nicely.
The photos translate to Kindle’s 16-grey e-ink display decently, though a color display communicates the most detail. I think this would work great on a full-color Kindle Fire display.
…This brings me to something super cool Amazon is doing now. As soon as I’d clicked the Buy button on my book, the site informed me that I could also read it from my web browser via their Cloud Reader. Really? Cool!
I clicked the link to display that, and got this beautiful two-column display. (Amazon automatically reformats to two columns when your computer screen is wide enough.) And I think this looks lovely in two columns, and very readable.
…And here it is from the iBookstore on an iPad – a lovely display, of course. The formatting is similar to the Kindle edition, which is to say, images and text stay together nicely no matter the font size, or how I orient the screen.
All in all, I’m very happy with how Random House translated something that’s formatted much like a 100-page web tutorial into a coherent and easy-to-follow display.
I also grabbed a (free) sample chapter from the iBookstore and checked it out on my iPhone. The sample only covers the intro chapter, but there’s no way I’d use an instructional book like this on my phone, so I didn’t bother buying the whole thing. The iPhone display is, as always, very readable. There are a few funky pagination things where a photo displays on one page and the text on another, but whadda ya want? It’s a little phone screen! :-)
…And this is a new message I’m seeing on Kindle Edition sales pages lately, which tells me that the era of presenting instructional content on digital devices is slowly arriving. By the time my new book comes out in digital form, I’ll bet the displays are even better.