E-books aren’t for everything!

Today I would like to share a bit of what I’ve learned recently with writing…

In this blog I’ve talked a little about my adventures with publishing a book on chainmail work. From the E-book portion of this project I’ve learned two things:

  • The formats that are accepted and actually work out for sending a file for e-book conversion are limited in ways that I didn’t wholly understand.
  • Flowable text is the bane of my existence when it comes to doing how to books/projects.

‘Flowable’ text savior or menace?

Flowable text is, for the most part, a reasonably good idea. It allows you to put an e-book on a lot of different phones/tablets/other platforms and lets the text adjust accordingly. For a novel or other ‘wordy’ book it’s a really good idea.

Unfortunately if you’re doing something where a particular picture and a particular piece of text actually need to be together you need to make the text part of the picture. That works for a caption, but if a particular paragraph in the instructions needs to refer to a particular picture you can’t be sure of where they will be in relation to each other.

You can’t be sure where they will be in relation to each other unless you have the whole thing set up as a picture. So if you have a paragraph refer to a picture it needs to be part of the picture. And then, so the paragraph is in the right context in the page the whole page needs to be a picture… So, basically trying to keep a paragraph and picture together turns the whole section or chapter into a set of images. That leaves you wondering why you didn’t just make a PDF in the first place and kind of negates the value of the ‘flowable’ text.

In reality it’s both and neither…

All of this said, I’m not entirely against flowable text. It’s just another design consideration. It’s one of those things that you have to think about and then choose the right tool for the job. If you really need the picture next to the paragraph, if that level of formatting is really important to you, then an e-book with flowable text probably isn’t for you (or at least your project). If you’re more interested in people being able to read the project on a wide variety of platforms then maybe you need to bite the bullet and accept that they may have to hunt that picture down.

Possibly you put both out there and let the reader choose which version they want (Like I’m doing with CMBC).

Like so many other things dear reader, it’s a case of choose what works not what’s ‘cheapest’ or ‘easiest’. That’s how you get through.

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

Think. Then build/write/do. It works out better most of the time.


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