E-book or Print book?

Posted by jlubans on December 05, 2017

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Caption: A not unusual e-book glitch; a split cover.

That’s the question. Early on, whenever I mentioned the “Fables for Leaders” book project, I would declare it was going to be a print book and an e-book – in other words, in two formats, one paper and the other silicone.
So, what changed my mind?
The answer is fairly simple. Unlike the uniformity of paper (a page is a page), the silicone platforms for e-pages are too many in number to accept anything but the simplest of book designs.
Having illustrations on multiple pages would confound even the most advanced e-readers, including smart phones. Like the split illustration above, we would have pictorial non-sequitors all over.
I was told that the only way around this was to strip out all the illustrative detail in Fables for Leaders – in other words, make it a text-only book in the simplest of formats.
So, I would need to have two e-files; one e-file for printing the paper version of the book and another e-file for the book to appear on a Kindle.
Maybe (no guarantee) I could keep the cover, but all else would need to be simplified so as to not confound e-reader apps and platforms.
If you have seen the print book, you know that cutting the illustrative detail (created by Béatrice Coron and Alise Šnēbaha) would take away the book’s personality; transforming a lively and charming book into an etiolated version of itself.
So, now you know why “Fables for Leaders” is a paper book.
At one time I was au courant with the publishing industry, but in semi retirement, less so.
Given the multitudes of print books still gushing forth from presses - to confirm, just drop in at your local Costco and gaze upon the sagging heaps of print books! - I wonder what a several year statistical comparison between print books and e-books might reveal?
You may remember the IT tocsin, “E-books rule!” And paper books were to become quaint and queer things like your father’s Pontiac. Print was (and is) dismissed by the brash and indubitably certain twentysomethings as “Dead Tree” technology.
Is there then a flattening of the demand curve for e-books? Or, are e-books on an altogether separate track from paper?
I will keep an eye out for a creditable summary article. If you know of one, pleases let me know.
In any case, “Fables for Leaders” is a paper book. While not bound in “limp purple leather” it continues the centuries old tradition of ink on paper and the inherited tradition of book design (the shape, color, feel, and texture of the book and its pages) for the human reader.
E-book technology has a long way to go. It need not emulate the incunabula or what has gone on in centuries of print on paper, but it does need to evolve into something more than a poseur of its predecessor.

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Twenty days to Christmas! Avoid the postal panic, order gift copies of "Fables for Leaders" by John Lubans before the holiday stampede!
Find Fables at any number of Internet vendors, including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, BookBaby, and Powell’s Books.
The behemoth Amazon is linked here. Amazon has the book in stock and ready to ship, as does BookBaby.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

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