Although the future of ebooks is debatable, their popularity has nudged many publishers toward developing a digital publishing strategy. It’s common knowledge that the publishing industry has been radically altered: traditional distribution channels are shrinking, Amazon has near-hegemony, self-publishing is an unstoppable trend, and the glorious publishing houses of old have been consolidated. Publishers recognize that developing drastic new strategies is essential to their survival.
Some publishers are adapting to the new reality by releasing ebook editions along with their standard publications. Before releasing an ebook, they have to precisely execute several elements, such as formatting and searchability, which depart significantly from the elements of a print book. Novel methods of monetizing ebooks are also called for. Developing a digital publishing strategy requires attention to new and different details.
Ebooks have to be formatted correctly in order to be readable. Simply transferring a print page into a digital file is not an effective method because reading a PDF file on a digital reader is generally an uncomfortable experience. Among other problems, the pages cannot be reformatted to fit a large font size when the user zooms in or out, and a PDF cannot adjust to the size of the individual electronic reader of each user. Navigation becomes difficult because the pages become automatically cropped to fit the screen.
Whether publishers produce their own ebooks or decide to outsource their production, they have to ensure that the ebooks meet the demands of the digital environment. To ensure adaptability to any e-reader, the formatting has to be unique to ebooks. Available digital platforms, such as EPub3 and apps, are designed to support these enhanced ebooks and grant them readability on various readers.
To extend their desirability, ebooks should be studded with “extras” that are available only in electronic format. Rich media, including audio, video, links, and annotation, give that extra “zing” to ebooks. Clicking on links to supplementary material, highlighting relevant sections of text, and easily accessing related resource material, all serve to make ebooks much more than a digital version of a print book.
Adding and updating metadata are also indivisible from digital publishing. Metadata, or descriptive information about a resource, must be inserted into every ebook. Expected metadata for an electronic publication comprise the name of the publication, the owner of the text, the language used in the book, and the sequence of the book’s content.
With metadata, an electronic reader can interpret the publication, so that readers can find and access portions of the text that they want to retrieve. When metadata are properly linked and tagged, search engines can pinpoint data within ebooks, giving readers maximal access to all the sections of a given text.
Formatting and metadata are essential aspects of a sound digital publishing strategy. They give the reading audience a smooth and pleasant reading experience, which is what the publishing industry is all about.