Free eBook: A Christmas Gift from vPrompt

We hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season this year. In the spirit of Christmas, we would like to give you this gift from all of us at vPrompt eServices.  Our eBook team has painstakingly recreated The Children’s Book of Christmas, J.C. Dier’s 1911 anthology of works about Christmas through the ages and in various countries.

This carefully restored book contains all the original stories, essays, poems, and carols as well as the original color and black and white illustrations.  We hope you will enjoy sharing this book with the young people in your life as well as anyone who is interested in history and would like to better understand Christmas customs from a century ago.

Do Readers Really Prefer Paperbacks?

Anyone who frames a question about book publishing as print vs. ebooks as though they are mutually exclusive may be missing the point.  Reading is a very personal activity.  Each reader has their own preferences and there is no right answer.  Any publisher who doesn’t publish in both print and digitally will probably miss out on connecting with some readers.

Just like digital watches have not replaced all analog watches, ebooks are a long ways from replacing all print books. That fact in no way minimizes the importance of publishers releasing good quality books in electronic form.

At Niall McCarthy asks: “Do Readers Really Prefer Their Dusty Old Paperbacks To E-Books?

Today, 23 percent of all male adults and 33 percent of all female adults in the United States read e-books. In fact, the global e-book industry is worth a whopping $8.5 billion.

This still pales in comparison to global print’s $53.9 billion so it’s little surprise readers still prefer holding those dusty old paperbacks. 46 percent of U.S. Internet users said they only read printed books while 15 percent read more e-books than printed books. A mere 6 percent of Internet users said they exclusively read their books in electronic format.

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Are you interested in making your your ebook are well crafted and appealing to readers?  vPrompt’s expert ebook conversion techs can help.

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13 Keys to Accessible EPUB3 Documents

  1. All text must be available in a logical reading order – Use structural markup to define the natural reading order of the primary narrative and to distinguish secondary material such as footnotes, references, figures, and other auxiliary content.
  2. Separate presentation and content – Visual reading is only one way of accessing content. Do not use visual-only cues such as colored text, font size or positioning as the only clue to the meaning or importance of a word or section.
  3. Provide complete navigation – Include a complete table of contents in the front matter and consider smaller tables of contents at the start of each section. Use <section> and <aside> tags in the content and the <itemref linear=”no”> tag in the manifest file to define a logical reading order.
  4. Create meaningful structure wherever possible – Create a structure by using numbered headings in a logical structure. For other tagged structures, specify their content with the epub:type attribute. For example, the tag that contains the preface of a book might look like <section epub:type=”preface”>.
  5. Define the content of each tag – Include semantic information to describe the content of a tag.  A section tag for the table of contents would look like <section epub:type=”toc”> or a list of definitions in a glossary would be tagged with  <dl epub:type=”glossary”>.
  6. Use images only for pictures, not for tables or text – Any content embedded in an image is not available to visually impaired readers. If the textual contents of a table or image are required for comprehension of the document, use proper and complete markup for text and tabular data, including headers and scope attributes for tables. If images of text are unavoidable, provide a description and transcription of the text and use accessible SVG.
  7. Use image descriptions and alt text – Every image should have a description, caption or alt text unless it is solely decorative.
  8. Include page numbers – Page numbers are the way many people navigate within a book. For any book with a print equivalent, use the epub:type=”pagebreak” attribute to designate page numbers.
  9. Define the language(s) – To make sure each word will be rendered correctly, specify the default language of the content in the root html tag. Indicate any words, phrases or passages in a different language by using the xml:lang attribute: <span xml:lang=”fr” lang=”fr”>rue Saint-Andre-des-Arts</span>.
  10. Use MathML – MathML makes mathematical equations accessible to everyone by eliminating the ambiguity of a verbal description of a picture.
  11. Provide alternative access to media content – Make sure the native controls for video and audio content are enabled by default. Provide fallback options such as captions or descriptions for video and transcripts for audio.
  12. Make interactive content accessible – Interactive content using JavaScript or SVG should be accessible. All custom controls should fully implement ARIA roles, states, and properties, as appropriate.
  13. Use accessibility metadata – As part of a general good practice of documenting the accessibility of your content, provide accessibility metadata in your files so end users know what features are there and search engines can discover your accessible materials.

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For a more detailed study of Accessible EPUB books, please visit Top Tips for Creating Accessible EPUB 3 Files.

[This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Generic License and was originally published in a more complete form by International Digital Publishing Forum.]

Are you Ready for eBooks in School Libraries?

Children Using Digital Tablet With TeacherBritish Columbia’s Educational Resource Acquisition Consortium has released a whitepaper with valuable information for librarians and educators interested in learning how to best incorporate digital materials into their collections and curriculum.

Over the last few years there has been a growing segment of students and educators who have been exploring the use of E-Books and asking for them to be included within their School District Library systems.

Students are eager to read new materials using new technologies, utilizing features never available before. Many consumers are already buying E-Reader devices to use personally, and want these devices to also interface with their school library collections. Publishers are slowly releasing their books and resources into this digital landscape, offering readers the chance to consume E-Books in a format of their choosing, on a device of their own. Teacher-Librarians are being asked more and more about their E-Book offerings and are looking for advice on implementation, best-practices, recommended vendors and suggested usage.

When looking at offering new digital resources to your students, staff and patrons, it is important to move forward in a sustainable, manageable and valuable direction. Many of your patrons already have their own devices with which to read E-Books. Utilizing this as a first step is an easier way to start providing this digital content. As you provide more digital content, and can see which devices and services are working best and are most popular, this feedback can best guide the future steps of perhaps integrating E-Readers to lend to patrons and students that do not have their own devices.

Encouraging students and patrons to explore the “browser based” access to try and test out resources first, before committing to supporting E-Books on specific E-Readers, is an efficient way to move forward with very little risk. Districts should ‘test the waters’ to gauge how much demand is out there, by asking which devices interested patrons have, and which type of content is most desired. Teachers and Teacher-Librarians will be interested in both non-fiction and fiction, while most patrons and consumers will be primarily interested in fiction E-Books. (more…)

eBook Choices: Fixed Layout or Flowable

Modern eBooks come in two general forms: Fixed Layout and Flowable. Each format has its pros and cons, but a good general rule is that for long form reading such as a novel you want a flowable text book while for academic or graphically oriented materials like text books and manuals you would want to use a fixed layout format.

The Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG) has released a Field Guide to Fixed Layout for E-Books that can help publishers select the best format for their book. It also helps book producers understand potential drawbacks and limitations that may result from a book being used on various platforms.

Core to understanding this topic is in the Field Guide’s first section: When to Use Fixed Layout:

When Is Fixed Layout Most Appropriate?

A fixed layout that exactly replicates the print design is almost always best for Children’s picture books, Manga, Comics and Graphic novels. These books have art created at a particular aspect ratio, and almost always need the entire page to bleed. Retailers have shown that there has been a growing consumer acceptance of these genres in eBook form.

Sometimes using a fixed layout, but not fully replicating the print layout, may be a viable solution. The eBook text can use a bigger font, and the design can be engineered to avoid pinching and zooming, even on the smallest screens. This fixed-but-different approach can work well for cookbooks, gift books, and art books.

Keep in mind that a fixed layout should not be the automatic default for the conversion of all of these product types. Often, because we are so familiar with (and attached to) the print format, we cling to fixed layout when a reflowable digital product might be more appropriate.

When Is Fixed Layout Not As Appropriate?

While editors and designers may be most comfortable producing an exact page replica of a print book, this isn’t always the best solution for the content, and it can limit the book’s distribution potential.

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind before deciding to go with fixed layout:

  • A text-heavy fixed-layout title can generate an unfriendly user experience because the customer continually has to pinch/zoom/pan the pages on the tablet in order to view the content. There can be a loss of some of the features available in reflowable e-books–for example, text-search functionality can be lost if the text is flattened as part of an image file. Additionally, a customer who expects a reflowable experience but encounters instead the print replica may experience confusion and disappointment.
  • From a production standpoint, fixed layout is labor-intensive and expensive. Fixed layout needs to accommodate the conversion and oversight of multiple formats–Amazon, Apple, B&N, and Kobo all support fixed-layout e-book files but use different formats, although widespread adoption of EPUB3 will help re-duce this fragmentation. Each format must be individually reviewed by the publisher for quality assurance, usually multiple times, thereby creating additional work and cost for content-management departments.
  • Fixed layout can also affect tight production schedules. Because the format relies heavily on the print layout, conversion efforts typically begin once the print file is finalized, even though the digital product often has to come out either at the same time, shortly thereafter, or even, in some cases, before the print edition. There is, therefore, a high risk of missing on-sale dates, which reduces the ability to capitalize on publicity and marketing.

For long term planning, remember that a reliance on fixed layout can hinder a publisher’s ability to innovate at a time when experimentation may be a critical part of digital migration. While fixed layout does not, in fact, prevent the inclusion of advanced features, a focus on replicating print, coupled with the complication of creating multiple versions for multiple platforms, often inhibits the inclusion of the very features that truly distinguish digital from print publications.

Download the Field Guide


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