eBook Limitations

Is there anything that cannot be an eBook?

With the rapid improvement of technology over the past few years, there is very little that we cannot format into an eBook.  Heavily designed or illustrated books can be created specifically for the iPad or Kindle Fire. We can include drop caps, shaded backgrounds and borders, colored text and more for most eBook platforms. Despite these advances, some formatting features that are available in print still may not be possible in an eBook - very complex, design-heavy books (like comics and magazines) may not translate well into eBook form, and some devices may not support all of the fancier features we can add. Read below for more details on what changes you might expect when turning your print book or manuscript into an eBook. 

Heavily Designed Books

Cookbooks, Children's Books, Manuals, and Coffee Table Books

Books which have a lot of images, or depend on having a static page layout are usually not suited for our standard eBook formats. The majority of eBooks available on devices like the Kindle and the Nook utilize what we call a "flowing" layout. This means that the text is very flexible, changing to suit the screen size and default settings of each eReading device. Cookbooks, children's books and other image-heavy books often end up looking much more simplistic than their print counterparts when converted to the typical EPUB and MOBI formats.

While we often cannot format heavily designed books using the regular eBook formats, we can create something called a "Fixed Layout eBook." This format is only available on the iPad, but it allows us to "fix" text and images to the screen. Instead of changing font sizes, the reader can zoom in. Images will never shift, and text will remain positioned relative to any images, just like your original print book or manuscript. If you have a cookbook, children's book, coffee table book, or any other image-heavy book that depends on having a static, unchanging layout, your book may be best suited for Fixed Layout formatting. If you're not sure if your book qualifies for Fixed Layout formatting, please contact us. We are happy to take a look and make a recommendation for you. Learn more about Fixed Layout.

Appearance and Formatting

While eBook design has come a long way, it's important to remember that your eBook will not look exactly like your print book. This is because of the way eReaders display content, as well as the options users have when reading your eBook. We simply are not able to control the exact font size and style of your eBook, as with a print book, since readers have the option to change these types of settings. Readers can even control the line spacing, margin, and whether or not text appears justified on the screen. Footnotes will appear at the end of chapters, rather than at the bottom of the page. Page breaks and line breaks will "reflow" according to changes in settings or device. The eBook format may appear more simplistic than the printed book, but this is okay! People who read eBooks expect this - the important part is that all of the text within your eBook is smooth, continuous, and best suited for eReader display. Read more about The Differences Between eBooks and Print Books.

Books with Multi-Column Text

Textbooks, Reference Books, Bibles

We are not able to format multi-column text. Since eReaders recognize text as one fluid string, we cannot create the more complex layout seen in textbooks and reference books. We can, however, format a textbook as single-column. If your textbook or reference book already has a simple layout, or if you can provide us with a digital copy that has the text as a single column, we can certainly create an eBook version. If your book has multiple columns, but it has been professionally typeset, we may still be able to properly extract the text as single-column. Feel free to contact us if you have a multi-column book that you would like made into an eBook.

Color Images and Text

All of our eBooks can include color images, and even color text; however, whether or not the book will display in color is dependent on the device used to read it. The iPad, the NookColor, and the Kindle Fire are the three major devices that have a color display. Many tablets, desktop programs and other dedicated eReaders (like the Kobo Vox) also utilize a color display. If you supply us with color images, they will display in color on all of these devices. More about our Image Guidelines.

Other eReaders, like the eInk style Kindle, Nook, Sony and Kobo Readers, use a black and white display. These devices usually have a smaller screen and are often used by people who read more text-heavy books like novels or memoirs. This means that even when you give us color images, they will render in grayscale on these particular devices.

We can include color text in your eBook, as well, but this process requires considerably more time and work from our formatter. For this reason, color text in your eBook may require an additional formatting fee. Again, color text will only display on devices capable of displaying color. 

Other Formatting Features

Due to the more versatile nature of the EPUB format (iPad, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo), eBooks have come a long way in a short amount of time. We can create drop caps, fancy borders, shaded text boxes and more. Books created with the EPUB format can also utilize advanced image placement and wrap-around text. EPUB is considered an "open source" format, which allows for more design control on our end. Though your eBook will never look exactly like your print book, the EPUB format helps us get really close!

However, books created with the MOBI format (Kindle) are not quite up to the same speed as EPUB. The MOBI format does not allow for wrap-around text, so we are not able to align images to the left or right. All images will be centered in the MOBI format. Since the text cannot wrap, we also cannot create traditional drop caps with MOBI, though we can make large capital letters in place of them. MOBI is considered a "proprietary" format, which means that it is owned and developed by Amazon. Because of this, we often have less control over spacing, layout and other design features in the MOBI file, than in the EPUB file.

Read more about our supported features.  

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