Books as apps are receiving a lot of attention. But what is a book app? And is it a good idea? This article explains the differences between books produced as apps and books produced as digital files, and outlines the key considerations in deciding whether to go down the book as app path.

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Today’s devices – computers, mobiles, tablets and TV – demand new skills and new ways of thinking from software developers and designers. Some of these principles also apply to book publishers.

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Assuming a publisher has a book in the necessary digital format(s) and possesses all the necessary legal rights to sell the ebook in any territory, the publisher must still have the means to deliver the ebook to readers. This article explains some of the business challenges that publishers face in ebook distribution. (Part 4 of Ebook (un)availability. A version of this article was also published in the IBPA Independent for April 2011.)

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For a publisher wanting to produce a book for e-readers, the production challenges are considerably more complex than for print. A familiar landscape easily navigated by experienced staff has become an unstable terrain guarded by new gatekeepers, and nobody has a reliable map. (Part 2 of Ebook (un)availability.)

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A publisher of a print book cannot produce that work as an ebook if they do not have the legal right to do so. This article explains the background to ebook rights: the right to publish in digital format and the territorial rights to distribute the ebook. (Part 3 of Ebook (un)availability.)

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How frustrating is it to find the book you want isn’t available as an ebook?

How exciting is it to find that a book you want is an ebook – but how doubly annoying when it is not available for sale to customers in your country?

How much sense does it make to be able to buy the first and third books in a trilogy as an ebook, but not the second? I’m not making this one up: this is the case for Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series here in Australia.

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At the Adobe roadshow on digital publishing in Sydney yesterday, presenter Mike Stoddart enthused about the ability of Adobe’s latest software to allow designers to bring design principles, such as typography, back into publishing multimedia. (I certainly identified with his comments on the difficulties of conveying design principles to developers, who aren’t much concerned with white space and layout.)  Read the rest of this entry »

This 2010 article has been updated for the release of EPUB 3. Read the newer version here: EPUB: an introduction

1. What is “ePub”?

ePub is a format for digital books. It is an XML format that has been defined by the International Digital Publishing Form (IDPF) (www.idpf.org), which is the international standards committee for digital publishing. Read the rest of this entry »

Executives not really understanding the difference between ebook readers and apps? Frustrated when you explain you need to produce different book files for different platforms? Having difficulty deciding in which format(s) you should be producing your books? This simple guide explains the basics of ebook formats and technology.
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A survey (reported in the Wall Street Journal) finds that “People who buy e-readers tend to spend more time than ever with their nose in a book, preliminary research shows.” The survey only covered the US, a country noted for its declining reading habits. Australia, by contrast, is a country of book readers, where independent bookstores still flourish. However, we have had very little access to ebook readers, our experience being largely limited to reading about them online except for those few gadget-happy jetsetters, so it will be sometime before there are enough ebook users to sample. That changed, for me at least, with the iPad’s arrival here in May 2010.

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