Digital Reading: DBA Judge Franco Alvarado on Future-Proofing Ebooks

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

By Anne Kostick
Fall is here and the entry deadline for the Digital Book Awards is just two weeks away. I asked the newest member of the DBA Judges’ Panel, Franco Alvarado, of F+W Media, to share his thoughts on ebook development and the future of ebooks. His thoughts about future-proofing really resonate with me as I juggle formats and platforms. (Hey, I just want to read … !)

Franco Alvarado, Ebook Developer at F+W

Franco Alvarado, Ebook Developer at F+W

AK: How are you feeling about ebook development? Is it getting anywhere? If so, where? Are we seeing better use of the format?

FA: F+W has been EPUB3 compliant since January 2014. Now that we’ve shifted over to EPUB3, there’s certainly more room for growth. However, I think the industry has been moving away from enhancements in general. Keeping the reader in mind, keeping the user experience as straightforward and easy-to-understand as possible.

By shifting to EPUB3 we’re preparing. Future-proofing. With EPUB3, using HTML5 tags will let us do things more semantically. We can treat the content logically and ascribe styles to it depending on what platform or device it’s being looked on. We can call a thing what it is, a section a section, an article an article, an aside an aside. The hardware needs to catch up, as it always does, but preparing content in a standardized way that is also logical will allow us better control and better ability to change CSS for appearance’s sake.

AK: What in your opinion was the biggest development challenge facing your work this year? 

FA: Communicating with the imprints at F+W is a large part of my role, and it presents various challenges both in educating the communities I work with and working closely with them to develop solutions. My work with the crafts communities at F+W has certainly provided some interesting challenges in image handling, tables, and lists.

A title I worked on in March, Mend and Make Fabulous, from Interweave, helped me find some solutions for how to organize lists with images. And the best part about finding these solutions, of course is that you really only ever need to do it once. There are still scripts and techniques I learned at Emerson that I use today.

Ebook development is really about layering one skill on top of another, looking for patterns and similarities in old challenges to tackle new ones.

AK: Layering one skill on top of another: I like that idea.

The Digital Book Awards is open for entries. If you are the author, publisher, producer or developer of a great digital book, consider entering the competition. All the information you need is HERE. The early-bird deadline is September 2; the regular deadline is October 1.

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