Ebook vs Print Book

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Ebook vs Print Book

Post by Lilien on Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:00 am

I opened this thread so I can explain some basic and more detailed differences between Ebook and PDF (which I will be refereeing as a print  book file) layout and use.

The most important difference is that with PDF you have a static layouts which is basically what you see is what you get, while ebooks  have dynamic text where text is reflowable.  
Let me explain a bit more about what is dynamic and what is static text.

Static text is created for print  or in some cases for online viewing of PDF file. And with static text you control the layout.  You create where the sentence begins and where it ends. You decide how much words will appear on one page.  You decide how many pages the book has.  

Dynamic text is text which has a capability of reflow, which allows pages when resized to be filled up with more text or less. When I say pages here, I mean the windows of the application you use. Cause ebooks which are based on dynamic text do not have pages. Reason is that ebooks are one long HTML file with CSS styling. I will explain HTML part a bit later. But what is important here is that because the ebooks have text which flows so it can fit into the size of the screen, ebooks do not have pages, and with that they do not have page numbers. Some  electronic readers display page numbers in upper corner, so you now wonder how is that possible if there are no pages? Well, the page number of ebooks is defined by the screen size, the amount of text which is displayed in one moment on your screen represents a  virtual page. Let’s say you are reading a book that has font size 12 and on your ebook reader it’s displayed that your book has 300 pages, but if you change that font to 14, you will see that the page number of your ebook will increase.  So in simple words, ebook is one long, very long page which brakes into pieces according to your screen size. Which means page is defined by the amount of text that your screen is capable to take.

That is also a big difference between PDF file which is static and Ebook file which is dynamic. In ebooks you have ability to change the size of font in your book, and even the type of the font. These changes influence the ‘’page number’’ or to be more precise the length of your file.  PDF file does not have an option of changing the font or in that mater; it doesn’t have an option to change anything. The layout is locked.  If you try to enlarge the size of the pdf file so you can read the text better, your whole page will enlarge and will not fit into the screen of your reader and you will have to pull the application (if possible and allowed by application itself) from side to side to be able to read the sentences. Page number will not change cause the pdf file does not have an ability to fill the pages with additional text or to reduce the word count.  It simple makes the page bigger.

So  now you wonder does that affect the formatting of the book?

It does until some extent. Ebooks contain Cover Page,  Tittle, Chapter Tittle, Paragraphs, just like a print book. But  in ebook there are not footers, headers or footnotes. Also there are no page numbers, given that there are no pages. Imagine where your header of footer will appear if you do not have static or fixed page layout. It will appear somewhere in the middle of your text, depending on how you set up your reading environment. It’s no different with page number.  In pdf file, or while you are creating one in word or similar editing program,  you set up automatically and it’s placed in footer of your page. But given that the footer will end up somewhere in the middle of the text in ebook, that is exactly where the page number will end up too. So as you can see it’s completely pointless having it.  So the formatting of the ebook is  different than print book.

The dynamic of the ebook is most important to the readers who read their book on different devices, some may chose Amazon Kindle, some may chose Sony Reader, some may chose some Android devices, or even smartphones, and some readers may even chose to read their books on desktop computer. All of these devices have different abilities, different applications, and most importantly different size resolution. So your ebook must be web friendly.  

I gonna try to explain the HTML and CSS part of the ebook as simple as I can.

While pdf created for print is formatted by certain actions which you decided and do in your editing program, ebook files like epub, are defined by certain codes. If you want your sentences in word to appear two lines under Chapter Tittle, you hit space twice. But while formatting an ebook, you cannot do that, cause ereader will not understand that action and will just treat it as same text without space and will glue it together. So for the text to appear how you want it, two line space under the Chapter Tittle you have to define that line by CSS code which will tell your ereader that it should display that line on the certain distance of the Chapter Tittle. It applies to every appearance of the text in ebooks. They MUST be defined by code.

Now you probably wonder... But there is so many free programs out there which I can use for converting the pdf file to epub?

Yes, there are. But ! Those programs may convert your file extension to another. But the look of that book will be horrific. PDF does not contain codes which tell that free program how to convert the file. Also, what will happen to all of your page numbers? Footers or headers? They will all end up in the middle of the text. Your text given that it does not have a code which orders where to appear, will end up wrongly aligned. There won’t be full justification. It will just be one long page with raged lines and messed up content.
Until now you saw the difference between file which is created for web friendly environment and print needs. But if there are not page numbers  how do you navigate your book?
Both ebook and print book contain table of content. While in print ready book file book file format, you have table of content printed or placed on beginning of the book or end, in ebook you have table of content which is hyperlinked to the chapters or the desired section of the book. You can access the table of content differently depending of your reading application.  So in print book it would say Chapter Ten – page 120.  In ebook file the Chapter Ten which is defined by certain style will be linked to the desired word in the table of content. And no matter how your page changes or on which virtual page of your ebook your chapter ends up, the word Chapter Ten in table of content will always be linked the Chapter Ten inside of your ebook.

Ebooks are not suitable for Non-fiction books where a lot for graphic is shown ,or for certain illustration books where the layout of the book has to be fixed presenting the exact text on exact place under certain image, cause of it’s dynamic style. But for a fiction books where there are no graphics  and the book only contain text, ebook is perfect.

I hope this gave you a slight insight into how the ebook works and what are the main differences between pdf and ebook formats.
If you have any additional questions, please ask. If I can, I will be more than happy to answer them.
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Re: Ebook vs Print Book

Post by Deej on Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:19 am

I had never known this until Lily and I started working on the formatting of my ebooks. HOLY CRAP, there's a lot of code involved.  But she's a superstar and has Redemption looking quite professional.

Thank you Lily, you are amazing.

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Re: Ebook vs Print Book

Post by ElaineB on Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:52 am

Now I get why ebooks don't have page numbers! Thanks.

But it is weird that they can't, because even in Word you can change the font size and it still manages to allow for headers, footers, and page numbers.

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Re: Ebook vs Print Book

Post by Lilien on Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:01 am

Word is an editing program and it's end product is is doc file which is again a working file which can be opened in certain editing  program. While Ebook files are epub, mobi etc... which are end files. They can be modified in their appearance, but new text can not be added, neither they formating structure can be changed (order of paragraphs, name of chapters, etc) . It goes same for PDF. You can not create PDF as pdf. You write a Word document which you export as pdf. And later that PDF is not editable (except if you do not make it that way and even than you can only open it in Editor programs and not in reading devices) Same goes for Epub, even though its appearance can be modified, the file itself is not editable.

And most important Word is not a HTML file it's a working file with Pages! You can export a doc file as a html with your footers and headers and you can see what you will get. You will end up as I mentioned above with footer and header being in middle of the text. You even have an option in word to see your file in web layout. The button to switch to web layout is in the right lower corner next to the percentage slider.
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Re: Ebook vs Print Book

Post by ElaineB on Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:59 pm

Yeah, I've seen that Web Layout option but never understood it. Thanks! This makes sense.

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