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Going From Print to Ebook: Next Steps

InDesign Magazine issue 108
This article appeared in Issue 108 of InDesign Magazine.

Laura Brady details the principles and process of moving content from traditional print publishing to digital.

One of the foundational principles of ebooks is that they are flexible and ready for the reader to personalize in ways that the developer couldn’t anticipate. The idea is that it is not up to the people who make ebooks to dictate how consumers read them. So if your audience wants 30-point type on a loose line height and fully justified with gaping holes on the page/screen, then that’s their right. They change the fonts, manipulate the layout, fuss with the justification until the reading experience suits them, potentially in ways that make designers gasp in horror (Figure 1).

Figure 1. My mother’s ereader at the settings she enjoys. It was a harsh shock to my system to see this layout.

This is one of the key affordances of ebooks: they are what the reader needs them to be.

And while I have long proselytized that a good ebook is one that is well-coded and ready for the user’s preferences to be layered on top of that solid framework, I am excited to bring this message as well: ebooks can be a thing of beauty, too. No joke. And to prove it, I am going to use the example of Nigel French’s article “Book Design: A Guided Tour,” from the January 2018 issue of InDesign Magazine to demo the ways and means. I’ll walk you through some important fundamental techniques for good ebook design used in that project, and then show other samples of successful ebook designs provided by some of our colleagues, including relevant code snippets along the way.

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Laura Brady

Laura Brady

Laura Brady is an ebook developer and the principal of Brady Type, an ebook design and conversion studio. In her spare time she helps plan the ebookcraft conference and follows the Toronto Blue Jays.
Laura Brady

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5 Comments on “Going From Print to Ebook: Next Steps

  1. Great write up. Thank you. Do you have any best practice for images and captions that should stick together? If I have a look at epubsecrets, it seems, that there is nothing new, that realy works (instead of put everything in a div with page-break-inside: avoid)?

  2. This is wonderful, thank you! I’m wondering about Epub3 vs. Epub2 — is it really okay to export to epub3 now?

    • It is definitely okay to export to EPUB 3 now. It is supported nearly everywhere, and where it’s not, any EPUB exported from InDesign is still EPUB 2 compatible.

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