Formatting and Design of E-books

Why formatting for ebooks and

print shouldn’t be the same

I thought I’d take some time today to address a relatively new situation – the creation of self publishing authors interested in the creation of e-book product for their print books. My company, Dog Ear Publishing is an Apple-authorized aggregator for the Apple iBookstore. Being an Apply-authorized aggregator makes it simple for self published authors to publish, distribute and sell an ebook version of a book through the Apple iPad iBookstore. We can also make your book available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and Sony e-reader.

Apple iPad / Apple iBookstoreEveryone knows that ebooks and print books are ‘consumed’ very differently – one experience being very ‘virtual’ and the other far more ‘tactile.’ However, most self publishing authors also don’t realize that ebooks and self published print books a also very different in design. Many (really, most would be my guess…) authors feel that an ebook should look like the print product. That’s really not the case…

If we attempt to actually create an ebook that looks like the print book, in most cases everyone will end up unhappy. In the end, all that is produced is an unreadable, improperly formatted product. Self published books with a very simple interior design (think basic fiction titles) may look pretty close… but it will never be exact. In the world of print books, we can control and finesse how the book appears to the reader – and set the words on the printed page in an exact and unchanging way. Once a book has been printed, the design is static.

However, when we build the digital form of the book, it’s a very different ‘design’ process. The digital book is dynamic – and being a ‘dynamic’ product gives the reader of the book (not the author or designer) control over how the book is consumed. For example, an ebook really doesn’t have a ‘page’ – even the concept of page numbering isn’t important. Everything is about the content, and it is most often presented in a continuous stream. Each reader’s ‘page’ (the amount of text viewed on the screen at one time) may be completely different – based upon the device on which the book is being read and the reader’s personal preferences.  Fonts and font sizes will change, text and text elements will shift and move, and each consumer has the ability to change the ‘design’ of your book to fit personal preference.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – ebooks are all about content, not design. It is the consumption of the content that becomes important to the consumer – and the ways in which they can consume that content. Searchable text, in-text links, dictionary access – all the nifty tools that ereaders bring to the market. .

The design of a self published book must be different for each ‘path’ that the content takes – whether it be print or digital. This concept is incredibly important to remember when looking to build a digital product for your self published print book. Your new self published ebook must display well (and deliver the same high quality reading experience) on the wide variety of e-readers.

Learn more about E-books, Self Publishing, Print on Demand, Book Distribution by contacting Dog Ear Publishing.

Dog Ear Publishing is a self publishing company located in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Contact us with questions – 866-823-9613.  Or, visit


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