UNDERSTANDING THE E-BOOK
“It’s just words on a page.”
I’m not an e-book reader. When I started out in the process of converting my print book to an electronic format, I had a little trouble wrapping my brain around the so-called fluidity of the page and this is what I was told.
Hmm… I had to give up control of the font and other little design elements I had become attached to. No headers or footers to worry about. But I liked seeing the chapter and section headings at the tops of the pages. They lent a sense of place. “People who read e-books don’t concern themselves with that.”
Why does it say “Table of Contents” when I had decided on simply “Contents”? “That’s up to the device.” Wow.
E-BOOK PROS AND CONS
After a back and forth on everything from photo captions to footnotes, I came to realize that e-books are a little like solar power – not as sophisticated as I was led to believe. In addition, there’s also the lowest common denominator issue, or at least that’s how it was presented to me. Even if one format is able to accommodate something fancy like pop-up footnotes, it probably won’t be possible on all readers. So for example, while there may be the potential of finding a beautiful font with small and large caps that could be used to lend a distinctive look to the opening of each chapter, there’s the risk that certain readers won’t be able to render them accurately anyway, resulting in odd characters or even just blank space.
Hmm… Clearly, the ability to carry around a small library in your purse is nothing to be sneezed at. I do also get the advantage of being able to control the size of the font. I recently read that this factor has contributed to the growth of e-book popularity amongst older people. The backlit screen also makes reading easier for some, although personally, I look at so much stuff on computer screens that it’s a relief to look at a page that isn’t glowing.
CALABRIA: THE OTHER ITALY’S E-BOOK RELEASE
Even if the layout isn’t precisely the way I would have liked to see it as the words, sentences and paragraphs are ever shifting depending on the device and its inherent choices, I gradually came to understand that people who read e-books are used to the variability of these structural elements. They even seem to prefer this adaptable style. In fact, e-book readers (referring here to the human reader) began asking me when the e-book was coming out from the day the print book was released – and before.
Perhaps the e-book’s vivid color pictures balance the occasional primitiveness with regard to the rendering of certain design elements. What I may see as layout challenges appear to be easily accepted by e-book advocates. Interestingly, I’ve recently read that poetry e-books have lagged behind other genres. It makes perfect sense due to the importance of the visual effect of a poem’s layout. Luckily, my book only has one four-line poem within its 280 print-book pages, and fluid hanging indents were available upon request.
In addition to the paperback version, Calabria: The Other Italy is now “out there” in MOBI (Kindle) and ePub (Nook and iBook) formats, and available electronically through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the iBookstore and a host of other online sellers.
Now all those people who were waiting to program Calabria: The Other Italy for their book clubs because some of their members just didn’t read paper books are free to put it on their schedules … with an old-fashioned writing implement on a calendar hanging up on the wall or with some sort of stylus on a cutting-edge app?
Calabria: The Other Italy is my award-winning, non-fiction book about daily life, history, culture, art, food and society in the fascinating region in the toe of the Italian boot. Check out the description of the Contents of my Calabria Book and read what people are saying about it on the Book Reviews and Interviews page. It’s widely available in paperback and e-book versions.
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