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Old 09-18-2008, 10:18 PM   #1
AlexBell
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Ebook page design

Forgive me if this is the wrong forum, but I can't find a more likely one.

I've read a lot of ebooks since I bought my Cybook Gen 3, and have noticed that they have varied a lot in their page design - some of them look very good, but in my opinion some of them are awful. It seems to make little difference whether the books are commercial or free.

Is there a set of conventions for the design of ebook pages? I am looking for conventions about the size of headings, whether they should be centered, how much space below the headings, etc etc. There is some good stuff on Wikipedia for printed books and on the internet for website pages, but I can't find anything for ebooks.

Can anyone point me please to a thread or website or book?

I'm surely not the only one fussing about this subject; could we have a forum devoted to ebook design and layout?

Regards, Alex
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Old 09-19-2008, 01:10 AM   #2
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It is an interesting question. One item of interest is who should be in charge and how much control should they have over the presentation. Is it the author, the publisher, or perhaps the reader. It is a discussion that was had in the original web page design but seems to have gotten overridden by newer designs.

As to the forum its in. I think this is probably the wrong forum but the feedback is a good thing. Several topics of a General eBook nature have shown up in odd places lately including here and the lounge. For feedback I would like to see a General eBook forum for exactly this sort of discussion.

As to the answer for your question. It is the same as paper books. There is no universal standard. However, some formats such as Sony try to standardize on a look and some publishers also try and standardize on a look just like they do for paper books.

Many people would prefer that the look be determined by the tool they use to view the content and that look should be customizable and provide overrides for the book formatting. As a matter of fact some software tools encourage this while others want a more rigorous approach.

It is a very interesting subject. How would you want it to work? And why?

Dale
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Old 09-19-2008, 03:07 AM   #3
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Mobi favours very much the "leave it to the reader" approach. Generally speaking, in a Mobi book, depending on the particular implementation of the reading software one is using, the user can select the type face, the font size, whether the text is left or fully justified, the margin size, etc.

In Sony's BBeB book format, on the other hand, all those decisions are made by the book creator, and the reader has little or no control over the display, other than to alter the font size.
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Old 09-19-2008, 04:05 AM   #4
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I have the impression that the ePub format has increased the variation in ebook layout, although OEB-based ebook formats (e.g. MOBI and LIT) could accommodate many of the same styles. The attached screenshots are from Adobe Digital Editions showing chapter headings from a few ePubs. The book title is in the header bar and the image filename includes the publisher when this is known. Some publishers have a standard style (FeedBooks - image 2, Rosetta - image 6) but others don't (Penguin - images 4 and 5).
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Old 09-19-2008, 06:03 AM   #5
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It certainly looks as if ePub is capable of some much nicer page layouts than the older formats support!
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Old 09-19-2008, 08:30 AM   #6
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Thanks to CSS...

In Feedbooks' case, we use something that's quite similar to DTBook, therefore it makes a lot more sens to have such a template.
Books with dfferent layouts from the same publisher are most likely produced through Adobe InDesign.
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Old 09-19-2008, 01:47 PM   #7
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Although it seems most people don't consider PDF as a valid e-book format, I create PDF books for my Cybook (and for anyone else's of course). I try to keep the same page layout as in paper books, only a bit more condensed (minimal margins, small vertical spaces) and no left/right pages (the headers have book title, page number, chapter number and a pagebar and chapterbar). Have a look at this example.

If a "real" e-book format, which allows reflowing and font/size changing, also allows this kind of formatting, perfect.
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Old 09-19-2008, 02:13 PM   #8
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Absolutely nothing wrong with PDFs specifically created for the device - that's exactly what it's meant for. The problems occur when you have the "wrong" page size. Hadrien's "Feedbooks" site does a wonderful job of creating "custom" PDFs correctly sized for eBook readers.
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Old 09-20-2008, 06:51 AM   #9
AlexBell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hadrien View Post
Thanks to CSS...

In Feedbooks' case, we use something that's quite similar to DTBook, therefore it makes a lot more sens to have such a template.
Yes. I like the way Feedbooks look. Any chance of getting a look at the CSS you use? Is it an external CSS file?

Regards, Alex
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Old 09-20-2008, 07:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Mobi favours very much the "leave it to the reader" approach. Generally speaking, in a Mobi book, depending on the particular implementation of the reading software one is using, the user can select the type face, the font size, whether the text is left or fully justified, the margin size, etc.

In Sony's BBeB book format, on the other hand, all those decisions are made by the book creator, and the reader has little or no control over the display, other than to alter the font size.
No, this is not what I'm getting at, Harry. I have some ebooks where there is a space of a third or quarter of a page below eg chapter headings, and others where there is no space at all. I have one (converted from a print book) in which there are footnote links buried in the text - which simply don't work in an ebook. You advised me to centre headings when I asked for feedback on my first book - some do, some don't. This is the kind of thing I'm fussing about.

Regards, Alex
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Old 09-20-2008, 07:18 AM   #11
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As for footnotes, what I do is make them endnotes. That seems to work out best in pages that can reflow.
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