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How e-books are changing the publishing landscape

  • Published on March 25, 2014
How e-books are changing the publishing landscape

Publishers of books have seen a rapid shift to digital content. From textbooks being read on an iPad to novels being enjoyed on a Kindle, the growth of digital content is dramatic. For those involved in book creation, InDesign has been struggling to keep pace with the rapid changes in reading habits, as a product that was originally built to support print publishing. Fortunately, Adobe continues to invest in InDesign, and publishers are becoming more adept at style and formatting digital publications through newfound skills with HTML and CSS.

Whether you're one of the pioneering veterans who helped shape online pagination for the new generation or are just entering into this field, the following highlights of this trend might help paint a picture of what shape the industry is taking:

Enhanced elements give designers more options
Digital books afford designers more creative freedom once they let go of the fixed layout requirements. While printed books are limited by spatial elements, such as the size of the characters and the actual size of the pages, digital books can be read on different devices, in different orientations (portrait or landscape), and even at different zoom levels. In the end, despite any added design elements, such as illustrations or unique chapter graphics, the format of a printed book is relatively static. Yet this is different with digital books, where you can incorporate enhanced content such as video or text, read-along text for children's books, and designs that adapt to the way a device is being held. If layout is important to you, you can also create a fixed layout ePub, which is a book that supports only one orientation, and keeps the text and pictures in the same place.

With an e-book, you can experiment and be more creative. You can even add links to external sources, allowing readers to choose whether following them to that extra information is important to their understanding.

What's happening to the printed book?
The layout skills you might have gained from traditional publishing using InDesign aren't being rendered irrelevant with these changes. The process for generating a print book is similar to generating an ePub document from InDesign. You still need to structure the content, organize it, add images and apply formatting. Because many ePub files, which is the foundation format for all eBooks, also have printed versions, it makes sense to create the layouts in InDesign.

Build onto your skills repertoire
If you are involved in book design and publishing, the shift towards digital provides you with great opportunities to expand your skills and value for both large and small publishers. Designers and publishers may benefit from sharpening their skills with InDesign classes at The American Graphics Institute to take advantage of new digital publishing tools and techniques.

About the author

Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the publisher and editor of the Digital Classroom book series, which have sold more than one million copies. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HP. An expert on web analytics and digital marketing, he delivers Google Analytics training along with workshops on digital marketing topics. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.