BNGO Books

Print design and ebook development

Publishing Houses

Every publisher — large, small, tiny — has a challenge: get their content into as many formats as possible: hardcover, paperback, PDF, Kindle, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Google, reading services, browser-based readers, on and on. 

The particular container matters less and less for some kinds of material. Content is being distributed in so many formats now that planning for one over the other might be a mistake. Read this blog post for more thoughts.

e-books are Web pages with a difference: They use XHTML and CSS, along with some e-book–specific elements, to create files that are read on e-readers. They can be built from scratch or, more commonly, exported from a layout program (InDesign, Quark) once the print mechanical is complete.

Smooth workflow is essential to move this process along. Here’s how BNGO can help:

  • Determine what elements of the print edition can be used or modified for the e-edition, before editing begins.
  • Brainstorm e-edition add-ons that make sense for the content and the digital platforms, to either extend existing content or add new digital-only content
  • Set up the text document to get into type 
  • Determine proofing rounds needed to finalize the copy once in type 
  • Build and complete the print mechanical, then send to e-book conversion, creating style sheets and templates to make the conversion seamless
  • Work on the XHTML and CSS files to modify and improve on the conversion
  • Check on the many platforms to ensure that e-books function well within device limitations


Publishing a book is often a long process; most team members are relieved when a book is finally sent to the printer. But then the e-book adaptation has to happen: A whole new format needs to be created and checked. Doing QA (quality assurance) is not hard, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming. That’s especially true if staff are given solid training in understanding what they’re looking at. That’s where BNGO comes in. We can sit with whole departments or individuals and share knowledge.


  • What’s the best use of an e-book? How is it different from its print counterpart?
  • What features of the print edition can be enhanced or changed for the e-edition?
  • What elements can be introduced to the e-edition that either don't fit in the print, or are only possible in digital editions?
  • How can additional content add value to the material without being distractions or obvious afterthoughts? 
  • What are the differences among devices? Which device(s) are readers likely to use?
  • What should an editor expect when adapting a print book to an e-book? For example, how is art treated? How do interactive cross-references work? 
  • How does an interactive index work? When is the best time to start planning for a fully functional interactive index in the e-edition? Can an index be made interactive after the print mechanical is finished?
  • What other interactive features are possible?
  • What kind of references and links to outside-the-book sources are possible and recommended?
  • How can an editor talk to an e-book developer: terminology, expectations, feature requests?


  • How can a designer plan — from the very beginning — for a one-color print book and a four-color, tablet-ready e-book?
  • Which design elements and features translate well to e-books, which don’t, and what's the best way to work around the problems?
  • How can a designer effectively use color and typography in e-books?
  • How should a designer set up print mechanicals for predictable and consistent results in exporting to ePub?
  • How can a design staff talk to an e-book developer: terminology, expectations, feature requests?

Production / Managing Editorial

  • How are ePubs and Mobis side-loaded onto devices for checking?
  • What do Production Editors need to know when QAing titles on different devices and on-screen apps?
  • What are the elements of an e-book?
  • What’s the best way to request changes?
  • What's the best strategy for helping Editorial and Design departments make the most of their e-book planning and review?
  • How to talk to an e-book developer: terminology, expectations, feature requests

Composition / Typesetting

  • What’s the most efficient template setup for export to e-book?
  • How important are style sheets?
  • What considerations are there for illustrations, photographs, and design elements for e-book conversion?
  • What’s the best workflow when exporting a mechanical to ePub?
  • Is it important to know how to open up the ePub, work on the XHTML and CSS to modify and improve on the exported document, and validate the file? (Answer: YES)
  • How to talk to an e-book developer: terminology, expectations, feature requests


Adding digital publishing to an already-crammed production schedule is a challenge. BNGO can help sort out priorities and develop systems for smoothing the process.

  • What’s the best way to prepare from the earliest stages of manuscript development?
  • What does an editor need to know?
  • What does an author need to know?
  • What does a designer need to know?
  • What does a production editor need to know?
  • Is it worthwhile to tag manuscripts/XML?
  • How is scheduling affected by digital needs?
  • What are pre- and post-print-production concerns?
  • How important is it that the typesetter correctly applies style sheets?