e-books big and small

We know what they are, right?

An e-book is simply a book published in a digital format. It can contain words and images and can be read on a range of e-book readers. The e-book market is made up of books from the public domain, books published in hard copy and also published on e-books, self-published works and books published only electronically.

Owl with ebook reader by bocain

There are a range of e-readers that sprang up at the end of the first decade of this century, driven by book providers. These included the Kindle (Amazon) and Nook (Barnes and Noble). Then in 2010 came Apple and the iPad with its e-reader app built-in.

Small: Doing an e-book yourself

So how do you go about making an e-book? First it depends what sort of e-book you want to make? Obviously large publishers have now built an established industry around making and distributing e-books. But what if you have your own book and want to publish it? There is plenty of information out there on how to do this. One useful site is BookBaby, based in Portland, Oregon. They help writers self-publish providing information and support on issues such as design, printing, conversions, distribution and website creation. They offer a worldwide market with an international eBook distribution network.

A really useful page on their website is Top 10 Articles of ebook formatting. This includes information on formatting, indenting, justification, margins and fonts and more.


One of the key decisions a writer needs to answer is if your e-book is going to be a standard or fixed layout. This is a decision driven by the content of your book, how you want it to look and work on a range of e-readers. Basically a standard layout (ePUB format) uses flowable text that can be used on any reader with the ability to adjust font and style. Fixed layout is used for any books that rely on design and illustration where you need the layout to stay in the same place.

This website by eBook Architects provides a really useful discussion about this.A key thing it does point out is how quickly the e-book market is changing. As these guys say on their website:

‘The benefit of fixed layout is that you’re in complete control of the experience. The drawback is that readers are NOT! With fixed layout, readers lose the ability to resize text, change margins, change spacing, and change fonts.’

Big: Interactive e-books

But I think it’s the tablet that is making e-books really exciting because here we are getting into high level interactivity. An example of this is London A City Through Time by Heuristic Media This is a fantastic interactive story of the city of London with 6000 articles, 2000 prints and photographs and 35 video documentaries plus clips from the Pathe movie library. Here’s a taster:


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