Building Reader-centric Ebooks

One of the tasks I have set for myself for this fall is to reformat and republish the ebooks for my Twelfth Night stories so that they will be in line with the look and feel of the new work I have coming out.

Probably the biggest difference in my mindset since I started my experiment 2 1/2 years ago and now is how I use ebooks. In 2011 I rarely read ebooks because I could only do so on my PC, and it was unpleasant. Now I read 80% of my fiction on my iphone. Waiting for someone to buy me a Kindle for Christmas (ahem, husband) because, while I want one, even the $69 cheapie is still signifiant cash for me to outlay on a true luxury product (something nonessential, which performs a task that other equipment I already have *can* perform). But. I do actually read ebooks now, and being a user of a product gives a certain insight into production. So I am basically planning to format my ebooks with the things I as an ebook reader wish everyone did.

1. List on either cover or title page what the story is – a novel, a novella, a short story.
2. Put the synopsis that made me buy it at the front so I can remember what the story was 3 months later when I finally open it to read.
3. Move all front matter – copyright, extended TOC, author’s note – to the back. Leave only title page, synopsis, and abbreviated TOC (with link to full), and dedication/epigraph if either exist.
4. Include a fully linked table of contents.
5. Include live links to places of interest on the web like my other books, my website, etc., for those who want them. (Personally, I never use this but I can see where others might want it.)

I also want to do a better job stylizing my ebooks to be pretty and functional. This would be things like graphics for scene breaks instead of *** and chapter headings that are more than just words in a larger or different font.

What about y’all? What sorts of features do you wish more ebooks had?



Filed under Digital Revolution, Publishing

4 responses to “Building Reader-centric Ebooks

  1. ABE

    Nothing like experience – I love your idea for putting what it is right up front.

    I will change ‘a STORY of obsession, betrayal, and love’ to ‘a NOVEL of…”.

    Published books look a bit silly with ‘a novel’ on the cover – because, in a bookstore, if it is a brick, one expects it to be a novel. But things have changed, and a digital cover picture 1 x 1.5″ does NOT necessarily say ‘novel.’

    And putting a synopsis right up front (where a hardcover would have its blurb on the back of the jacket) makes a lot of sense: many people buy books to read later – and it is darned hard to figure out what made you buy it when you’re sitting on the beach with the umbrella drink.

    The world changes – we adapt with it.

    Good practices, all.

    • Glad i am not the only one who thinks the what it is/what it’s about features would be useful! I am at the point with my kindle library now where i will buy something new that fits my mood rather than try something that is there that i can’t identify bc i have a block against reading blind. I just find my attention almost impossible to hold if i have no context for what is happening…the only books in my life that managed it were Pride and Prejudice, and Illusion (by Paula Volsky). I also think length expectation is important – sometimes i want a novel and sometimes i want something to finish before bed.

      I am going to steal your idea of integrating book type with an elevator pitch, by the way. Yes, it is one more synopsis to think up but a great way to give a quick reminder/catch someone’s attention.

  2. Lots to think about. I’ve seen the way other people do their ebooks and now that I’ve changed to Scrivener, I can order mine any way I like without having to make a big fuss over it. I would like to find a way to make things prettier, but drop caps and ebooks just don’t go together.

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