BNGO Books

Print design and ebook development

On PACE to a great semester

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I'm happy to announce that I'll be joining the faculty at NYC's Pace University in Fall 2015, teaching in the Masters in Publishing program.

I'll be teaching a dozen or so Masters candidates eager to learn about desktop and digital publishing. The syllabus is under development now, but I know I'll be using the Adobe Creative Cloud to make print books and their ebook counterparts. We'll be tackling logo development, cover design, and interior design and composition, all with an eye to final print and digital editions.

It's a wonderful opportunity to share my knowledge, learn from my students, and have a hand in shaping work habits for a lifetime in publishing.

Rally 'round the RX: The Reader Experience

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Digital designers should find ways to create evocative and sensory experiences in their ebooks. I'm all for that; one mantra has always been to design an ebook so that a reader knows exactly what book is open at a glance (or at least after a page swipe or two). How? Some ideas: color (as ornament, not meaning); book-specific ornamental dingbats; attention to every controllable typographic and design detail. 

Here's an article by Anthony Franco that lays out the case for caring about our readers:

I thought the book was already proofread!

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Editorial and production staffs used to be glad to see final proofs go out the door. Then came ebooks.

Many publishers tack ebook-making onto the tail end of a project. This makes sense, since text and other content is final. But that is not — cannot — be the last time they look at their book. John Pettigrew has some tips and insights to offer.

Some of the info is outdated (Sigil is available again, but does not handle EPUB3 files, which are increasingly prevalent). But the concepts and the spirit are spot-on.

What's the dark side of ebooks, and can we see some light in it?

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Interesting ideas from Dan Cohen, executive director of the Digital Library of America.

I had a phone conversation today with a colleague who is on the pessimistic side about the future of ebook growth. She sees ebook sales plateauing, iPad sales slowing, and major publishers pulling back on what they put into the digital marketplace.

That take makes me worried (since I make my living creating ebooks), but at the same time I wonder: isn't this most likely a natural part of the new book-reading ecosystem? I'm an optimist in general, and so I'll take that view. And here are some reasons that bolster my thinking.

Let's get it all together.

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How developers and publishing pros need to move closer together.

Great piece by Derrick Schultz. I'm sorry I wont be attending the conference in Toronto this March, but am glad Derrick provided a clue to his thinking here:

Snow day

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ABPA talk postponed until Feb 10.

Winter has arrived, so we postponed the talk to the members of the ABPA so we could all make a snowman. We'll gather instead on Feb 10 at 12:30.

In other news, I've been engaged to write an article for InDesign Magazine, on using InDesign to create a MOBI for Kindle. Outline is in and approved; now it's time to write!

I am also working on an article on importing an idml file into iBooks Author for First draft in; now to chunk it for 3 installments.

The workflow has great potential for designers who don't want to learn a new design interface; however, there are plenty of glitches, dilemmas, and questions. My piece covers lots of these; I imagine more issues will arise as time and usage accrue.

Amazon and the reinvention of literature (gee thanks, Amazon!)

Devices, Kindle, eBook Design, AmazonBNGO BooksComment

Here's a bit of aw-shucks puffery ("I'm in the super secret Lab!") about Amazon. Question unasked: Why Not play in epub land?

Some interesting info (I like knowing that people switch hands when holding a book every two minutes).

The premise of the article is to explain, uncritically, how Amazon has gone about building its business. There is some minor hand wringing about Amazon taking over (but also this:

With physical bookstores in a state of seemingly perpetual decline, Amazon has achieved a dominant position: the company sells 40 percent of all new books in the United States, and two-thirds of ebooks.

Now, I wonder why bookstores are in seeming perpetual decline....hmmmm.)

Anyway. Some comments to the article do mention the appearance of books, how they render in the devices. Forced justified. Poor font choices.

But nothing at all about the three ton simian in the room: Mobi / KF8, the Kindle OS for reading books. No mention about Amazon's insistence on keeping its books apart from books sold and distributed everywhere else.

This isn't a bit of type-geek complaining; this is the core of Amazon's business model, and it would have been nice to hear those boyish, kindly Amazonians speak to it.


Be Modern!

Design process, Devices, eBook Design, EditorialBNGO BooksComment

I've always likened evolving ereading technology to the move from black-and-white TV to color.

Viewers came to understand that a better experience was available if they moved to color, and so, eventually, they (almost, I guess) all did. And today, instead of supporting ancient devices (ancient here means 5 years old), we should build ebooks for modern devices and leave it to owners of the ancient devices to catch up.

Conferences, speaking, and training

Accessibility, Design process, Devices, eBook Design, Editorial, SpeakingBNGO BooksComment

This is a busy time at BNGO. We've just begun an interactive ebook project for the Park Avenue Armory and we are pleased to be active in outreach to the publishing community.

I was excited to be asked to speak at the InDesign Conference 2014 in Seattle this past October ( It was a whirlwind: filling in for a late cancellation, I quickly prepped my portions of a day-long session on ebooks and InDesign. I presented alongside Anne-Marie Concepción, co-organizer of the conference, and Chad Chelius, InDesign trainer extraordinaire. The hall at Adobe headquarters was full of design pros with varying degrees of ePUB knowledge. Lots of ideas were exchanged and many questions were asked — and most were answered, I hope! Many thanks to Anne-Marie and David Blatner for inviting me.


I am now prepping a 4-hour webinar to be presented to the EFA — the Editorial Freelancers Association — on ebooks for editors. The syllabus is still taking shape, but topics will include types of ebooks, devices and apps, how to proofread an ebook, and how to include planning for digital editions at acquisition. We’re currently canvassing the membership as to what topics they’d like to hear about, so we’ll be presenting timely and needed information.

When: tentatively set for consecutive Wednesdays in January

Open to: EFA members and non-members

More info:


On January 27, I will be speaking to the American Book Producers Association (ABPA) on ebooks. This will be a presentation to and conversation with ABPA members and guests on how ebooks are made, what book producers need to know about the process, and how to plan for digital editions from the very beginning of a project.

When: January 27, 2015, 12:30-2:00 PM

Where: In Good Company, 16 West 23rd Street, 4th Floor, NYC

Cost: free for ABPA members; $20 for guests

More info:

Some great ideas about ebook design.

BNGO BooksComment

I've advocated for some of these for some time (especially color images), and others are new to me. I especially like using chapter openers as a chance to reinforce the book-iness of the particular book.