From Digital Book World:
In my previous post, I offered a few ideas on how to make ebooks feel unique by taking advantage of some visual design cues.
But I neglected to mention one crucial step: test, test, test your EPUB and MOBI files on multiple devices and apps.
A simple example: try using a very light blue for a chapter title. How does it look on ian Pad and on a Kindle Fire? Probably nice. Now how about in night mode? Or how about on an e-ink device, like a Kindle Voyage? Is it legible, or is it too light?
You can use a media query to target e-ink Kindle devices and use black instead. But I would recommend just starting out with a color that works everywhere. Simpler is better when dealing with the large universe of reading systems, as you don’t know how many readers are still using Nooks or legacy Kindles. You don’t want their books to break, which a media query might well do (especially on older Nooks).
So always test your ebook in as wide of a range of environments as you can. And don’t forget: don’t try to sideload your MOBI on iOS devices (iPad, iPhone). You need an .azk file, which you can create with Kindle Previewer. Here’s a guide on epubsecrets.com that describes how to move it to those devices.
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I also advocate designing the inside-the-book table of contents instead of leaving it as a plain-vanilla list. Amazon requires the contents listing, so you might as well make the most of it.
Since my last post for DBW, Amazon has decided that it will reject books if the contents listing is at the end of the book.
Some ebook makers think that a simple listing of a book’s chapter numbers doesn’t need to be in the front matter and would be as useful in the back. After all, it should be discoverable from a reading system’s navigation tools, and a long, boring list of Chapters 1–63 won’t eat up the sample that is available on retailers’ bookshelves.
But a book with chapter titles and subtitles should go in the front, as these titles can give potential purchasers a good idea of what’s in the book as they peruse the sample.
Without getting into too much arcana, Amazon wants (demands) the listing near the beginning of the book. Plain and simple. So, that’s even more reason to pay attention to its design and integrate it with the rest of the book.
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Plenty of designers—and readers—complain regularly about awful ebook typography. We deal with what seems like an endless variety of apps, devices, generations of apps and devices, reading system preference choices, algorithms, enhanced typesetting features, etc. that we can’t control. Is there any hope? Should we even bother?
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I’ve got friends in the business who avoid trying to fix horrible typography: em dashes landing at the beginning of a line, ellipses breaking across lines. If that’s how the reading system operates, that’s how it operates. If a user chooses to read her book at a huge font size, we should allow for that and keep text flowing with no impediments.
Link to the rest at Digital Book World
PG recently read an NYT bestselling history of the Pacific Campaign in World War II from a major publisher on a Kindle Paperwhite. Each chapter began with formatting like this:
It didn’t interfere with PG’s enjoyment of the book, but some readers might be irritated.