Digital Production & Technology

Resources and information on the cutting edge of ebook production and design plus insights on the digital technologies that are redefining what’s possible in publishing.

audiobooks, digital audiobooks, authors, publishers, self-publishing

The Audiobook Boom: What’s Happening and How Can I Be Included?

Audiobooks have long been operating in the digital space. Well before ebooks were gaining major popularity, digital audiobooks were helping audio publishing grow. With the introduction of the iPod at the turn of the century and the adoption of smartphones over the last decade, audiobooks have been booming: over the last five years, both...

video, publishers, virtual reality, vr, mobile, augmented reality, self-driving cars

Are We There Yet?

Ebook sales for “traditional publishers” seem to have hit a plateau. In the latest quarterly report from Simon & Schuster, for example, digital sales (including digital audio) fell approximately 10 percent, and HarperCollins has reported drop in digital revenue, as well. In some sectors, this has become a cause for celebration: the book is...

Should Publishers See Themselves as Service Providers?

Should Publishers See Themselves as Service Providers?

Today’s publishers have it pretty rough compared to previous generations: they’ve seen the sequential rise of the Internet and ebook software upend their traditional business models, and in many cases have risen to the challenge admirably. Despite this shift, though, the last thing they want to hear is that more change is coming. Data...

Why Is Text-to-Speech Only an Afterthought?

Why Is Text to Speech Only an Afterthought?

I spend a lot of time commuting to and from work in my car, and I try to use the time wisely. I cycle through a playlist of podcasts every week, but I feel like I’m missing out on other types of content. Regardless of your daily commute, I’ll bet you’d feel the same...

ebooks, indexing, production, e-book

Here’s How Indexing Could Evolve with Ebooks

Last month I shared some thoughts about how indexes seem to be a thing of the past, at least when it comes to ebooks. I’ve given more consideration to the topic and would like to offer a possible vision for the future. Long ago I learned the value an exceptional indexer can bring to...

Automated Cleanup for Word Manuscripts

Automated Cleanup for Word Manuscripts

If you have been doing ebook development for any amount of time, you have heard a lot about XML workflows. These conversations, sometimes in hushed tones of trepidation and other times in hopeful anticipation, usually tend to end in the conclusion that an XML workflow is just not possible, is too costly, or does...

What’s the Missing Ingredient for Unlimited Reading Services?

What’s the Missing Ingredient for Unlimited Reading Services?

I’ve been a fan of unlimited e-reading services for at least a couple years now. When Oyster Books went under I shifted to Kindle Unlimited. For short-form magazine content I use Texture, the offering formerly known as Next Issue. Prices for these services are typically in the $10-15/month range and, for the most part,...

ebooks, sales, publisher

A New Take on Ebook Windowing

Ebook windowing is a technique designed to prevent ebooks from cannibalizing print book sales. The original thinking went something like this: release a new title in print format only, thereby preventing e-cannibalization. The result? Frustrated consumers. If you’re an ebook reader, there’s nothing worse than realizing a digital edition doesn’t exist for that new...

e-reader, ebook, e-reading, tablet, e-ink

No, I Don’t Want a Bigger E-Reader. I Want an Even Smaller One.

There’s been some discussion lately around large-screen e-readers. Michael Kozlowski of Good E-Reader launched an Indiegogo campaign for a larger-than-normal e-reader—13.3 inches—and TeleRead offered a couple different takes (here and here) on the hefty price point Kozlowski is proposing: $699. I should say up front that I don’t use e-readers as often as I’d like...

ebooks, libraries, overdrive

Some Tips to Make Your Ebook Look Great

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...

The Lost Art of Indexes in Ebooks

The Lost Art of Indexes in Ebooks

When was the last time you used an index in an ebook? Maybe the better question is this: Have you ever used an index in an ebook? One of the challenges here is that most ebooks don’t have indexes—the result of the misguided notion that text search is a better solution. Every so often...

Why I’m Not on the Amazon Echo Bandwagon… Yet

Why I’m Not on the Amazon Echo Bandwagon… Yet

I almost bought an Amazon Echo last November. It was on sale for $129 and I figured it was too good of a deal to pass up. Amazon promised two-day Prime delivery, but they got overwhelmed by all the orders and, like many others, they botched mine and said I might receive it by...

Self-publishing, authors, books, ebooks

How to Make Ebook Design Count

I got into the ebook development game when a typesetting client was seeing terrible results from their machine-made ebooks. Content was garbled and the books were ugly. It was impossible to open a book and tell what you were reading. So it became my mission to create ebooks that were nice-looking individuals, just like...

A Vision for Making Ebooks More Engaging

A Vision for Making Ebooks More Engaging

I’m convinced we’re still in the very early stages of ebook evolution. The current print-under-glass model works great for some books, but long-form digital content has so much more potential. The market will ultimately move beyond the only option readers have today of consuming dumb content on smart devices. Content enrichment is one way...

ebooks, ebook pricing, publishers, metadata

How to Find the Best Ebook Format

As a book designer, I understand the desire to mirror a book’s print design with its ebook counterpart. But as an ebook reader and developer, I know that print publications are different enough from their digital versions that one design does not always fit both purposes. In this and following posts, I’ll discuss how...

Independent Publishers in a Modern World

Final Thoughts: Independent Publishers in a Modern, Optimized World

When we presented our analysis of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) factors amongst independent book publishers more than 16 weeks ago, we began a journey that I hoped would be eye-opening to the participants and Digital Book World readers alike. What we’ve learned on our way has certainly been enlightening—a chance to view achievements, challenges and...

The Optimized Publisher: HTTPS

The Optimized Publisher: HTTPS

For the final factor of our multi-step evaluation of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) factors, we will be turning to security. In May of 2015, The Washington Post provided a timeline of the history of Internet security, ranging from Cold War communication strategies of the 1960s to hacking car navigation and other vehicle systems in...

The Growth and Effectiveness of Interactive Ebooks for Learning

The Growth and Effectiveness of Interactive Ebooks for Learning

Technology continues to revolutionize the way we go about our daily lives, and every generation benefits from enhanced learning experiences in their youth and beyond. Chalkboards have become smartboards, homework is accessible through online portals, and tablets have become a legitimate tool for education in the classroom. Furthermore, home learning has been significantly changed...

What Macmillan's Acquisition of Pronoun Means

The Optimized Publisher: XML Sitemaps

I would like to turn your attention to the Doodle Track Car, an award-winning toy that allows kids to draw a line (or print out their own racetrack) for a little racecar to obediently follow. Without the line, the car is lost. With the line, the toy will go anywhere you draw it to...

How Publishers Can Use Their Authors to Boost Sales

The Optimized Publisher: Author Amplification

“Call me Ishmael.” “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” “It was a dark and stormy night.” These are the opening lines that have turned writers into authors and kept many a reader glued to the books and statements made by their favorite wordsmiths (Well, maybe not that last...

How Publishers Can Strengthen Their Social Media Efforts

The Optimized Publisher: Social Integration

Have you ever read a book, heard a song or watched a film that was so amazing and inspiring that you just had to share it with everyone you know? Before social media, this involved a lot of lending and borrowing (I have lost so many “borrowed” books, CDs and DVDs this way). But...

Why Publishers Need to Be Mobile-Friendly

Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?

Can you imagine life without a smartphone or tablet? Before 1994, access to the Internet was limited to desktops and laptops, confining website commerce to the home and business. Believe it or not, the first micro/mobile browser made its debut that year. And 13 years later, how we all use the Internet changed immeasurably...

publishers, content, mobile

Best Practices for Ebook Front Matter: Table of Contents, Part 2

The front matter of a book communicates a lot of helpful and important information to readers. But publishers and authors often find themselves wondering how to handle that information in their ebook files. In the current installments of my column here on Digital Book World, I am delving into some best practices, ideas and...

Code Validation

The Optimized Publisher: Code Validation

Millennials of the world might cite the most important event of 1994 as the birth of pop star Justin Bieber (I did say “might,” ok?). But webmasters and coders might view 1994’s highlights a bit differently: that year was the origin of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3c), the organization that dictates the Web...

Print Primacy Vs. Digital Diversity?

Print Primacy Vs. Digital Diversity?

No matter what the trend in ebook sales, digital publishing continues to evolve. New resources have allowed for the development of products that complement and expand the publisher’s mission. Editors have had to give ground to producers and software developers, as new assessment modules, learning objects, multimedia tools and social medial platforms take hold....

How Publishers Must Use Images

The Optimized Publisher: Images

Let me drop some statistics on you: the Google domain was registered in September 1997, and today, the most popular search engine in the world indexes close to 50 billion webpages. Out of those webpages, Google has indexed more than 1 trillion page images for its Google Image Search (as of 2013). In case you...

The Digital Experience Platform for Publishers: Are You Experienced?

The Digital Experience Platform for Publishers: Are You Experienced?

• The iPhone App Store opened on July 10th, 2008. • The Amazon App store opened on March 22th, 2011. • Google Play launched on March 6th, 2012. In a relatively short time, publishers had new and powerful distribution channels to target in addition to the established channels: print, website and industry-specific online hosting platforms. When apps...

Why Authors and Publishers Should Embrace Automation

Why Authors and Publishers Should Embrace Automation

Publishing houses have long complained about feeling the squeeze as the industry evolves. This is the reason they cite for lower advances, slashed marketing budgets, taking on less manuscripts and an overall drought of available resources. The industry has changed, which is old news, but what hasn’t is the approach to the problem. We...