Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Re-Kindle: Making eBooks look like Printed Books

I reveled in the print rooms at RISD. On the graphic design floor we had more metal letterpress printers than computers (yes REAL type-setting!) ... that was the late 80’s.

In the 90’s I fought website design — I hated the ugly html sites. I wanted my websites to look like the brochures I carefully designed and printed.

Déjà vu — Enter eBooks

Back to ugly html? You've got to be kidding me.

My first attempt at Kindles were stripped-down PDFs (removing all headers, footers, page numbers, dividers and other graphics) and uploading to Amazon. Some of them looked better than others, but many were a mess — legible, but not pretty. Since most of our books are image-heavy, and in PDF format, the quotes for third-party conversions were adding up, quickly.

I had enough. I buckled down and learned how to hand-craft HTML and make the Wyatt-MacKenzie Kindles as beautiful as our printed books.

I did it! Downloading samples to my Kindle for Mac here's what I am gleefully getting — Kindles that look like our print books. A peek at a few:

I think I've won this battle, but I know the digital war will wage on. (I'll soon be expected to embed videos and created vooks. Oh dear.) I understand Kindles have a light gray background rather than white — so I simply centered all of the graphics and made sure the cropping looked good. Same goes for when readers choose the "Sepia" as a display option. On white... they're HOT! That's all I'm sayin'.

Kindle is just one format, we'll talk more about eDistribution and the evolving eBook options in an upcoming post.