ext on an eReader is fluid. It reflows to fit the screen of different readers and text size can be adjusted. Reflow is wonderful, but it plays havoc with fancy formatting, which therefore does not transfer well from a print book originally created in InDesign to an eBook. True drop caps, carefully controlled text sizes, large spaces at the top of chapter pages, etc., are either difficult to create or are not possible.

Punctuation used in print books, such as "curly" quotes, em or en dashes, and special characters, will often "fall out" of eBook files and be replaced by nonsense characters. An artist can keep track of these characters if they know the book will also be reformatted for digital display and make sure they are converted to punctuation that will display correctly on eReaders.

Formatting for eReaders

Books created for eReaders use different formatting than print books. If you want to offer your book to both markets, you will need two files. However, letting your artist know about the dual markets ahead of time will save time and money because some formatting can be adjusted so it works for both print and digital publication.

Suppliers of digital books each have their own file format. A book can be created in html format and uploaded to a central source, such as Mobipocket, which then supplies the book to other major eBook distributors, or uploaded to specific digital book distributors, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble, using an interface they provide.

Adobe InDesign creates the ePub format. Books in this format can be read on the Adobe Digital Editions, iPad, Lexcycle, Barnes & Noble Nook for PC, Sony Reader, Stanza, and many other eReaders. If you'd rather have a book formatted for a specific eReader, it is not difficult to convert ePub to html.

Libraries that offer digital checkout use ePub, Mobipocket, PDF formats, and, occasionally, Kindle.

Advantages of eReaders

You have a potential market of millions of people. Self-promotion used to mean that you would need serious marketing and money in order to get your book noticed by a few thousand people and then hope the book spread by word of mouth. People who look for books on the large digital book distributors type in keywords to find books and read reviews by other customers to help them make the decision to purchase a book. Care in choosing keywords and books descriptions is vital for success. A good review can mean multiple sales, whereas a bad one...

All eReader PC versions from the digital book suppliers are free.

Disadvantages of eReaders

While most eReaders now display in color, there are still some that don't and in those any color image will be displayed in grayscale. If your market will be primarily those grayscale eReaders, it is important to convert all color images to grayscale because images uploaded in color, even if they are not viewed in color, will have the color byte size, which is always greater than grayscale. This increases download time and shortens the time between battery charges. The number of images should be restrained to the most necessary for the same reason. Books with beautiful color images are usually best left to print or PDF files, or books that will be read on computer laptop or notepad eBook readers.

ePub generation automatically reduces images to a size that can be viewed on all eReaders so detail in images will sometimes be too small to discern clearly. The Kindle displays larger images than most eReaders, but even those are still going to be small in comparison to a printed book. If you want to upload your book only to Amazon, then image size can be enlarged, up to a point. ePub files intended for a Kindle must be converted to mobi or html before uploading to Amazon through their interface. ePub books do not display on the Kindle.

Fonts for eBooks are best limited to web-safe fonts. If the font is not on the reader's computer, it will default to a font closest to the original.

I have written a short story saved in ePub format. It can be viewed on Adobe Digital Editions, Barnes & Noble Nook for PC, Mobipocket, or Sony Desktop Reader. "Save" the file to a folder or drive on your computer.

download a short story


To open in Adobe Digital Editions, click on the downward arrow to the right of "Library" and select "Add Item to Library." Navigate to the file location and double click the file name. The story will appear in your Library list. Either double click the story icon or click on the right-facing arrow in the upper left corner of the icon and click Open Item.

To delete the book, be in the Library view and click on the right-facing arrow next to the book name and then click Delete Item.

download adobe digital editions


To open in Barnes & Noble Nook for PC, click on My Library > My Stuff > Add New Item. Navigate to the file location and double click the file name. A message of "Copied ... to your locker" will pop up after a successful load. Double click the book icon or click on Options > Read Now.

To delete a My Stuff book, close the Nook for PC. On your Desktop, click on My Computer > My Documents > My Barnes & Noble eBooks. A window with a folder with your email address and a list of My Stuff book files will open. Click on the book and click Delete.

download the barnes and noble desktop reader


To open in Mobipocket, click on Import > EPUB Document. Navigate to the file location and double click the file name. The file will open on your screen as "Now Reading." If you want to open a different file, click on the eBooks button under Bookshelf.

To delete a book, click on the eBooks button, right click on the book cover and choose Delete.

download the mobipocket reader