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Old 12-11-2013, 03:14 AM   #1
GrannyGrump
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Ebook Layout - Frontispiece sequence

I know the subject of layout for ebook vs paper book has been discussed ad nauseum. But one component I can't find mentioned, is the frontispiece.

It seems in most traditional printed books, the frontispiece appears *before* the titlepage. Well, that doesn't seem like a happy place in an ebook.

If the image is a portrait of the author, I try to incorporate it into the titlepage or the "about" page. If it is an illustration, I've started to follow the lead of AlexBell and incorporate it into the text flow where it references. But occasionally the illustration is not referring to any particular text, and then I tend to place it before the half-title page.

so my layout ends up like this:

Cover
Titlepage
"About this ebook" (copyright status, synopsis, editorial/transcription notes)
Dedication
Introductory matter
LOI (list of illustrations)
TOC (table of contents)
FRONTISPIECE
Half-title
(Preface, if any)
~~~Contents
(Appendices, if any)
(End-notes section if I didn't place those at end-of-chapter)


Bearing in mind that I am a hobbyist dealing with public domain books with all the freedom that entails, do share your comments and criticisms. And how do YOU lay out your books (if you have the freedom to arrange that layout, of course).

Thanks
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Old 12-11-2013, 02:53 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrannyGrump View Post
It seems in most traditional printed books, the frontispiece appears *before* the titlepage. Well, that doesn't seem like a happy place in an ebook.
I believe the Title Page should go the way of the dodo in ebooks. You already know the Title/Subtitle/Author of the book.

Depending on how the Title Page is written, I could just see the publisher/translator/edition information being folded right into the copyright page.

If all else fails though, it is never a bad idea to just transfer all of the text as you find it from the book scan faithfully.

The example that sticks out in my head is this book I converted, "Letters to Mr. Malthus" by Jean-Baptiste Say, which is a collection of two books (attached the original PDF scan + the finalized EPUB):
  • There is the Title Page on page 1 of the PDF (created by the republisher)
  • There is a mini-Title Page on page 3.
    • Introduction to Book #1
  • There is a Title Page on page 5 (the original Title Page of "Book 1" as it was printed in 1821)
    • I can see an argument being made for this staying in a physical reprint, but since you cannot emulate the look of that exactly, I believe it is WORTHLESS/redundant in an EPUB edition of the book.
  • A "Title Page" (for Book #2) that doesn't match the rest of the book on page 109.
    • In this case, I split it into its own second Title Page. (Very rare that I do this, I try to condense them all).

I could have probably done a more strict job of removing/incorporating/compressing the Title Pages... but this decision was out of my hands. I was trying to think of a way to just mash all three together and get them in the single Title Page right in the beginning.

I was at least able to remove the mini-Title Page on page 3 (because that one WAS super redundant).

PDF:

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EPUB:

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My ideal would just be:
  • Cover
  • Copyright
    • List publisher/translator/publication date here.
  • TOC
  • Text of book.
  • Index (Optional)
    • This one doesn't make much sense in ebooks either, but I keep it in for completeness. Some clients prefer this to be removed completely... and I tend to agree. Always transfer it though, then it is up to the client to decide whether they want it or not.
    • Who knows, maybe someone will create an easier way to create page-map files and be able to create linked indexes at some future date, or a future format might be able to handle this easier and in a more elegant way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrannyGrump View Post
If the image is a portrait of the author, I try to incorporate it into the titlepage or the "about" page. If it is an illustration, I've started to follow the lead of AlexBell and incorporate it into the text flow where it references. But occasionally the illustration is not referring to any particular text, and then I tend to place it before the half-title page.
With other sections (Dedication, About the Author, ...), I tend to just err on the side of caution, and just keep it within the same exact flow as the physical book (I see this as never a bad idea).

I would be interested in seeing an example of this "Illustration incorporated into the text flow where it references." I have yet to run into such a case in any of the books I have worked on.

Last edited by Tex2002ans; 12-11-2013 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 12-12-2013, 12:05 AM   #3
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Quote:
I would be interested in seeing an example of this "Illustration incorporated into the text flow where it references." I have yet to run into such a case in any of the books I have worked on.
I did this with the edition of Roughing It that I uploaded here at MR: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=223247.

The print first edition had two frontispieces. (See Internet Archive: https://archive.org/stream/roughingi...ge/n9/mode/2up )
I set the first one into Chapter 33, where it references the text. I had set the second "generic" one just before the dedication, but in the revision (which I hope to complete *any minute now* ), I am moving it in front of the half-title.

Also see AlexBell's upload of Innocents Abroad (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=220749), he moved the frontispiece to Chapter 7.

Quote:
Depending on how the Title Page is written, I could just see the publisher/translator/edition information being folded right into the copyright page.
Yes, I see what you mean. I pretty much put all that in an "about" page: title, author, other contributers, publishing history, copyright status (always public domain), a brief synopsis/review of the contents, and editorial/colophon info. My "about" page might seem oddball and amateurish, and maybe I should move it to the back of the book, but what good is a synopsis AFTER you have read the book?

At least I've never had to deal with *four* titlepages. But I do like a nice titlepage, "just for pretty", it satisfies my soul.

Quote:
If all else fails though, it is never a bad idea to just transfer all of the text as you find it from the book scan faithfully.
I wonder if misinterpreted faithfulness is why I see ebooks with "This page intentionally left blank"...
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Old 12-12-2013, 01:18 AM   #4
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One of the reasons I still do a title page is that it's a convenient place for the copyright notice, and for a mention of the edition I've used - if that's relevant. And some of the look so good that I think they're worth keeping.

But I really don't think a frontispiece image makes sense just after the title page and before the text. It might have in the days of dead tree books when a prospective buyer could pick the book up and look at the picture, but not (in my opinion) now.

Last edited by AlexBell; 12-12-2013 at 01:21 AM.
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:28 AM   #5
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I try and match the paper book when that makes sense. If a frontispiece is relevant then I include it. It may be the only image in the book. Sometimes I use a Title page as the cover. No two books are ever exactly alike so I make then to mimic the book as best I can. I do try and include a Title page and it may include copyright data even on public domain since it shows the publication date of the book which I think is important. It takes a different mind set to read an 18th century book, but worth the effort. My goal is to make the reading experience the same as a paper book except when the eBook solution would be better such as links that work and perhaps combining a two volume book into one volume.

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Old 12-12-2013, 11:48 AM   #6
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The copyright date can also make a difference if there is variation between editions, so it is worth showing if it is available.
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Old 12-12-2013, 03:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrannyGrump View Post
I did this with the edition of Roughing It that I uploaded here at MR: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=223247.

The print first edition had two frontispieces. (See Internet Archive: https://archive.org/stream/roughingi...ge/n9/mode/2up )
I set the first one into Chapter 33, where it references the text. I had set the second "generic" one just before the dedication, but in the revision (which I hope to complete *any minute now* ), I am moving it in front of the half-title.

Also see AlexBell's upload of Innocents Abroad (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=220749), he moved the frontispiece to Chapter 7.
Thank you for the examples, and in this case, this "change" makes PERFECT sense (and is exactly what I would do).

In my experiences, the only frontispieces I have run into have been a picture of the author + his/her name. I usually just keep those in their position (right around the Cover/Title Page). I can see an argument being made for removing something this in an EPUB edition (I mean, with Wikipedia + Google, is there any author where you can't find a better picture/information?), but I usually just keep it in there.

Again, stressing my mentality of keeping it the same as the print version is never a bad idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrannyGrump View Post
My "about" page might seem oddball and amateurish, and maybe I should move it to the back of the book, but what good is a synopsis AFTER you have read the book?
LOL, exactly why I was struggling with mashing the Title Pages together... I always doubt my skills (I haven't read a massive amount of books, I just convert them! And I sure as hell don't have an eye for art/beauty.) Plus, I don't have a very diverse reading genre (where I can see a massive amount of different styles).

I even feel bad adding my own text to the copyright page!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrannyGrump View Post
I wonder if misinterpreted faithfulness is why I see ebooks with "This page intentionally left blank"...
I must admit, this is what I did when I first got into converting EPUBs (I specifically recall doing this in Index sections). Indexes just made me want to pull my hair out.

Now, I would rather just have the person leave properly OCRed text in the Index, but poorly formatted, over having a "This page intentionally left blank", or "COMING SOON (NEVER)" ). What if the PDF disappears? What if I don't have access to THAT EXACT edition you derived the EPUB from? Now that "intentionally left blank" will forever be blank!

With the Indexes, I learned Regex, and Indexes are some of the easiest sections of the book! So if I left the text in those older EPUBs, I would be able to go back and easily fix/update them.

So leave all the text in there, as accurate as you can possibly convert it, and maybe someone at some future date might come up with a tool to make your life easier. You can always go back and edit junk, but it is hard to edit something when it doesn't exist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexBell View Post
One of the reasons I still do a title page is that it's a convenient place for the copyright notice, and for a mention of the edition I've used - if that's relevant. And some of the look so good that I think they're worth keeping.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmikel View Post
The copyright date can also make a difference if there is variation between editions, so it is worth showing if it is available.
In all of the EPUBs that I officially (paid) to convert, the publisher usually has a little "Publisher" page, and we add the information to the copyright page. So every book that I convert, we have settled on adding this to the copyright pages:

Quote:
Digital edition MONTH YEAR by the Mises Institute

ISBN: XXX-X-XXXXX-XXX-X
eISBN: XXX-X-XXXXX-XXX-X
If none exist (for example, a very old book), we just add our own "copyright" page that states that info.

ISBN = original book's ISBN, or our new Print ISBN
eISBN = our new ISBN for this ebook edition

Of course, if you are not selling these EPUBs, you would not have an ISBN/eISBN... but I still think it might be a good idea to add your own page saying when you converted, and by who.

So this is the layout I settled on for nearly all (official) EPUBs:
  • Cover
  • Title Page (Optional)
  • Publisher Page
  • Copyright
  • Rest of the book [...]

Here is an example of our Publisher Page + Copyright Page:

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This allows us to have a consistent layout for the entire catalog of EPUBs. You might also want to make a "consistent" look/layout throughout your own conversions as well.

Of course, if the original book has a copyright page that is completely centered, then I would add that same, consistent information, and then center it to match the look of the original. I used to disperse our information between the original copyright info, but we just settled on shoving our information at the very end of the copyright page, after all the original text. (This way we can be consistent across all EPUBs, no matter the design of the original book's Title Page).

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaleDe View Post
Sometimes I use a Title page as the cover.
Meaning you take a snapshot of the Title Page right out of the scan? I used to do this when I first got started... but the quality/resolution was crap, it would not scale well (pure text in images, almost always a bad idea), and I just saw it as bloating the EPUB. I would rather just have basic plain HTML text, than having some crappy low resolution/hideous image. (Think of the future, when higher resolution devices/monitors come out, that image of the Title Page WILL NOT scale well).

Luckily, all the official ones I get paid for, they have an artist design a fantastic high-resolution cover, which I can plop in. For all those that I convert unofficially, I just keep the HTML there (no cover in the book at all).

Side Note: Stay FAR away from covers that Calibre pulls down from Amazon/B&N/elsewhere. No offense, but the compression/quality on those is............. extremely poor. Try to hunt down higher resolutions off of the author's site. In many cases, I would rather go with no cover in the book at all than have a low resolution/horribly compressed JPG. I wish that B&N/Amazon would actually host the high resolution covers they force authors to submit.

Now, if only I had art skills, I would want to create high quality covers for ALL the books that I do! Even being able to create basic ones, derived from the originals.

Here are three covers that an artist whipped up for me, which kept the spirit of the original (crappy original off my phone + new, crisp, amazing digital versions):

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Those covers bring a tear to my eye!

These were three books that I personally purchased and digitized, and they are the only digital versions that exist online! (I have one more book by Leonard Read that isn't anywhere online sitting right next to me, but I have yet to digitize it).

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaleDe View Post
My goal is to make the reading experience the same as a paper book except when the eBook solution would be better such as links that work and perhaps combining a two volume book into one volume.
Exactly.

Or the case of tackling journals. Sometimes you want to do more logical choices, such as combining entire years together.

Last edited by Tex2002ans; 12-12-2013 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 12-13-2013, 01:57 AM   #8
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@Tex and all: If you're interested, MiniMouse has a great thread over on the Calibre forum, users are creating and sharing Blank/Template book covers. Some of these are just gorgeous. All you need to do is add text.
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=222754

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Quote:
perhaps combining a two volume book into one volume
. Or perhaps, when unavoidable, split into several volumes when file-size is enormously more than MR's 20mb limit.
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Old 12-13-2013, 02:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrannyGrump View Post
@Tex and all: If you're interested, MiniMouse has a great thread over on the Calibre forum, users are creating and sharing Blank/Template book covers. Some of these are just gorgeous. All you need to do is add text.
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=222754
Thanks... I will have to take a look.

I never venture into the Calibre section of the forums. I just stick in our good Sigil/Workshop/PDF/EPUB/MOBI section of the forum. (Isn't this where all the cool people are?)

Last edited by Tex2002ans; 12-13-2013 at 02:54 AM.
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Old 12-14-2013, 05:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tex2002ans View Post
So leave all the text in there, as accurate as you can possibly convert it, and maybe someone at some future date might come up with a tool to make your life easier. You can always go back and edit junk, but it is hard to edit something when it doesn't exist.
I'm not sufficiently persevering to get all indexes and printers adresses and stuff converted to epub. However, I do leave it in the epub files, but commented out, thinking that it's better than deleting it outright.

I normally include information about which edition has been used, and source of the scans, on the "about this book" page.
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Old 12-14-2013, 07:11 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tex2002ans View Post

I never venture into the Calibre section of the forums. I just stick in our good Sigil/Workshop/PDF/EPUB/MOBI section of the forum. (Isn't this where all the cool people are?)
You should venture into the section there about making Sigil live. Kovid has thrown together a very useable replacement for Sigil in a startlingly short time.

It is still short a number of editor features, but it works well. One feature I have found useful is the book view and code view side by side, so I can see if my code is good or bad.
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Old 12-14-2013, 07:12 AM   #12
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Location: Central Oregon Coast
Device: PRS-300
One problem with indexes is their size. In a large book, they can shove you over size limits.
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