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Old 05-18-2009, 12:21 PM   #1
Kris777
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WIRED: Why E-Books Look So Ugly

Interesting article:
http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/05/e-book-design/

and interesting numbers:

...
With the popularity of the Kindle and other e-book readers, electronic book sales in the United States have doubled every quarter. Though still a very small percentage of the overall book industry, sales of e-books touched $15.5 million in the first quarter of the year, up from $3.2 million the same quarter a year ago. By contrast, the printed book market sales in North America alone was nearly $14 billion in 2008.
...
“E-books today are where the web was in its early years,” says Andrew Savikas, vice-president of digital initiatives at O’Reilly Media, a major publisher of technical books. “And some of those e-books are as difficult to read and browse as the early web pages.”

...
After spending a weekend with the Sony e-book reader, I found that the convenience of having so many books in a single, lightweight, slim device had me hooked, and its screen offers nearly print-like readability. But after about four hours of flipping through blocks of grey text I found myself feeling strangely melancholic. It couldn’t have been the lack of sunshine. Moving from one book to another, while easy, didn’t help: I was still staring at the same font, the same gray background and the same basic layout.

...
A big part of the problem with the Kindle (the largest selling e-books reader) is its use of the Amazon-specific .mobi file format, rather than the open standard ePub. ePub is based on the XML and CSS standards used in millions of web pages and allows for far more control over layouts than is currently possible with the .mobi file format.

As a result, if publishers want to sell Kindle books, producers like Defendini have to do a lot of manual work to create the digital file. In some cases, that means almost page-by-page customization, ensuring that drop caps appear correctly and that text flows around illustrations properly.
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