BNGO Books

Print design and ebook development

Adapt or Perish!

Design process, eBook DesignBNGO BooksComment

I'm not talking about moving wholesale from print to digital but about the unstoppable wave of conversion from print to digital, where the print doesn't work particularly well in its e-book version and needs to be changed and massaged. 

Those of us in the e-book-making business have a few terms to describe ourselves and what we do to get  content from print to digital. Some call themselves developers, which I guess comes from the web development branch of the family. That's fine, but I'm not a code head; I come at this process from a design and editorial point of view. 

Others call it making a conversion, as if they take the print edition, dunk it underwater for a couple of seconds, turn it around, and voilá, it's a new view! Well, to me, that term and implied process leaves out the sensitivity to the content that I think is vital to creating a valuable e-book.

Then, of course, there's the meatgrinder. The less said about that the better.

So, I've adopted adaptation. I adapt books from their print incarnation into a digital edition that will serve the content, use the device as its meant to be used, and leave the reader unaware that there might be a difference between the p- and e-versions.

That involves approaching an adaptation the same way I approach a fresh design. I read the book, think about its layers and components. I also look at what the print designer has created and use as much of that design as makes sense in an e-book. Colors, hierarchies, position of heads on the page are all taken into account.

Adapt or perish might be a bit strong; plenty of e-books will do just fine in a conversion. But take the extra minute to really think about the book, the device, and how they can work together. Adapt one to the other, and you'll get a great product.