ebook conversion service
Additional Services, Cost, Design, Page Layout, Reading, Self Publishing

Understanding the Difference Between eBooks vs. PDFs

Ever since their rise to popularity in the early 2010s, eBooks have dramatically changed the way we read, share and enjoy our favorite books. In 2018, e-book sales accounted for roughly a quarter of global book sales, further cementing their place in the growing market of readers.

While printed book sales continue to rise in 2018 and beyond, eBooks still play an important role in the marketing strategies of many self-published and indie authors. eBooks represent a nearly unlimited resource for authors, requiring no investment beyond the initial conversion cost. In other words, your eBook sales will always perfectly match your demand.

ebook conversion service

But what is an eBook, and what makes it different than a PDF?

A PDF (Portable Document Format) is a common file type that can be easily downloaded, shared and read across a wide range of computers and monitors. Most documents can be converted into PDFs using standard text editing programs, such as Word or InDesign.

However, PDFs lack many of the quality-of-life features of your standard eBook file. The two most common file types for eBooks are Mobi and ePub. Mobi files are required by Kindle and Amazon devices. ePub files are accepted by most other online booksellers, including Google Play and Barnes & Noble.

Both Mobi and ePub files are specifically designed to be read on an e-reader or tablet. As such, they’re equipped with some convenient features, including:

1. Linking

eBook files are an HTML-based format, meaning they may contain links within the text. This allows readers to quickly navigate between sections of the book, from the index to relevant pages, or out to separate websites. This is especially handy for textbooks and guides, which may contain reference notes.

2. Reflowable Text

eBooks text will “reflow” depending on the viewing window. This allows eBooks to be conveniently read on multiple devices and sizes, including tablets, phones and computers.

3. Pagination

With reflowable text, the total page count of your book will increase or decrease depending on the window size of your device. Publishers handle this differently; some embed pages to match the print or PDF version, and some leave them out entirely. As such, some eBooks will not display a page number and will instead allow users to jump directly to chapters using the Table of Contents.

In some instances, however, you will not want your page count to change, as in the case of some academic books with chapter or section citations. In these cases, PDFs are often the preferred format as they will lock in your total page count.

online ebook conversion

4. Accessibility

For impaired readers, eBooks give users the ability to modify the appearance of the content on their device, making them much more accessible than a PDF. Features, such as font style and font size, can be easily modified on the fly to meet the reader’s needs.

5. Zoom In/Out

Unlike PDFs, eBook files do not have a zoom in/out tool. Instead, users can customize the font size of their books using their device, and the text will automatically reflow to fill their screen.

6. Advanced Features

In addition to the above features, eBooks can incorporate many advance features, including:

  • Video — embed a video that your reader can watch.
  • Audio — enhance your message by including audio recordings in your content
  • Gallery — your readers can swipe through an entire collection of images with captions instead of navigating through pages to find them.
  • Read-aloud — make certain words, sentences, or paragraphs of an ebook read aloud to the reader. This can be useful when reading to children.
  • Multi-column Layout — add visual appeal to your content with multiple columns.
  • Pop-over — this feature enables the readers to access another window that contains additional information, data, or another image to give more context about the selected image with just a tap.
  • Scrolling Sidebar — insert relevant information and topics into a scrolling sidebar so readers can view additional or explanatory material without ever leaving the page.
  • Interactive Image — incorporate callouts and pan-and-zoom features to your images.
  • Reviews — let the readers review their knowledge using different types of tests such as multiple choice, select correct image, label the image, or a mix of all three. Authors can include up to six possible answers to each question.
  • 3D Images — instead of just seeing flat images on your ebook, your readers can interact with 3D objects by touch.
  • Keynote Presentations — browse presentations with custom animations right inside your ebook. This feature includes controls for slide navigation as well as optional auto-play presentations.

how to make an ebook

What’s the difference between a “classic” and “fixed-layout” eBook?

A classic ePub or Mobi file has flowable text so it can be read on any device using the reader’s preference for font size and styles. There are no official pages because the  text flows into each device differently, much like a web page. With this kind of eBook, the reader has more control over the reader experience. The classic-layout is less expensive than the fixed layout because less attention is paid to the look of the pages.

A classic ebook layout is ideal if:

  • Your book is mostly text (such as a novel)
  • Your book uses only small images that are embedded between paragraphs

A fixed-layout ebook does not reflow

because each page is locked in place, much like in the pages of a printed book. This type of eBook is ideal when pages rely heavily on images or formatting, such as with children’s books, cookbooks or books with detailed layouts. The reader has less control over his/her reading experience other than the ability to zoom in/out. Fixed-layout eBooks are more expensive than classic eBooks because they require extra attention during the conversion process to maintain the design.

A fixed-layout eBook is ideal if:

  • You want to preserve the look of your pages
  • You want your book to have a horizontal orientation
  • You want multi-column text pages

Learn more about our eBook conversion service to find out how to get an eBook copy of your book.

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How to pick a book size
Book Printing Cost, Book production, Cost, Design, Page Layout, Pre Press

How to Pick a Book Size for Your Genre

Printing a book takes a lot of decisions. What will your cover look like? What font will your book be printed in? How will your characters escape their fate?

how-to-pick-a-book-size

There is one question, however, that authors often forget to ask themselves until their book is ready to go into production: what SIZE will my book be?

Trim size affects not only the price of your book but also how your readers will perceive and handle your book. Your readers will have a preconceived notion of what kind of book they are about to read based on the page count and size.

What book sizes are best suited for my genre?

While book size is largely a matter of preference, below are some of the most common genre and book size pairings.

5_5x8_55.5 x 8.5” – Pocketbooks, Travel books, Novellas

If you intend your reader to travel with your book, 5.5 x 8.5” is a convenient size for readers to fit in a purse or briefcase. This is also a great size for books with shorter word counts, as it will increase your overall page count.

Genres that work great as 5.5 x 8.5” include business guides, thrillers/mysteries, self-help books and instruction guides.

6x96 x 9” – Paperbacks, Novels, Anthologies

6 x 9” is one of the most traditional and well recognized trim sizes. This is your “standard” book size, great for paperbacks and softcover novels. It is also one of our most popular sizes, chosen by many first-time and independently published authors.

It would be hard to find a genre that doesn’t work well as a 6 x 9”. Popular choices include sci-fi, memoir, spiritual and both general fiction and non-fiction.

8_5x118.5 x 11” – Workbooks, Textbooks, Histories

If you have a book with a lot of content, 8.5 x 11” is a great size choice to reduce your page count. It also gives your pages a lot of room to show off charts, tables and photographs. Most document editors are also set up for 8.5 x 11”, making this a convenient size when preparing your files for print.

Popular genres for 8.5 x 11” include school textbooks, ancestry books, family history books and picture books.

11x8_511 x 8.5” – Art books, Photo journals, Children’s books.

If you’re looking for a size that will help your book stand out, consider a landscape trim size. Landscape books are often intended to be put on display, such as coffee-table books. This size also works really well for books with multiple columns.

11 x 8.5” is a great choice for books that want to showcase their artwork, including children’s books, photography books and artist portfolios.

How do these trim sizes affect my final cost?

Paper is commonly bought as what is known as a parent size. Two common parent sizes are 25 x 38” and 23 x 35”.

For example, if your book is 5.5 x 8.5”, it would likely be printed on stock that started as 23 x 35”. If the book is 6 x 9”, it was likely instead printed from a 25 x 38” parent size. These sizes give you the best cut out with the least amount of waste to still allow for finish trimming.

So what if your desired size is 6 x 8.5”? This would then mean your book would be printed from the 25 x 38” parent size, creating the possibility for additional charges for a non-standard size. This might not be the case if your book is printed on different equipment or if the bindery is able to adjust to a non-standard size without time loss.

Check with your book printer before you do the final page layout to find the most cost-effective approach for your book.

Check out these other helpful self-publishing guides for how to pick the size of your book:

BookCover Cafe

The Book Designer

About Us, Book production, Design, Page Layout, Self Publishing

Preparing Your Content for Design Services

If you are not sure how to get your content into a print-ready state, we offer both cover and interior book design services! We asked our design team for some tips on how to make sure your experience in our design department is enjoyable from start to finish.

What We Need to Begin

  • Design-Department
    Our world-class designers, Kathy & Genevieve

    Edited, word-processed manuscript in a single .doc file

  • Image files (.tif or .jpg) labeled to correspond with markers in the text indicating desired placement
  • Back cover copy, ISBN, blurbs or author photo if applicable
  • A .tif or .jpg, 300 dpi image for Assisted Cover Design orders

Text

The majority of the books we design are text-based, mostly prose, but poetry too. Submit your manuscript in a single word-processed file, ideally Microsoft Word in most cases. Kathy or Genevieve will flow your text into Adobe InDesign and set it to the trim size on your order, bearing in mind your pre-discussed preferences and industry standards.

Images

Many of the books we design include photographs, art, and other visual supplements. Images for design orders should supplied in their raw files (.tif or .jpg, minimum 300 dpi). We also offer professional scanning services for hard copy photographs and other documents. See our Service Rates for pricing.

Cover Design

If you have a piece of art, a photograph, or another pre-existing image for your cover, you can take advantage of our $199 Assisted Cover Design option. Kathy or Genevieve will transform your image into a book cover set to our print specifications, including a back cover and a spine with title treatment, author photo, barcode, and blurbs (all optional).

If you have a vision for your cover in mind but not the means to supply the image in a file, you can opt for our $599 Custom Cover Design. This will allow you to work one-on-one with Kathy or Genevieve to execute your concept for a professional cover design. Come to the table with your ideas and let us bring them to life!

Clean copy saves you money!

We like to remind all of our design clients to make sure they edit any text submitted to Gorham Printing multiple times, very closely before you send it. Because we are not a publishing company, we do not modify your content in any way as we sculpt it into book form.

Any editorial changes you find in your first proof are made by your designer at the standard design rate of $92 per hour. The fewer changes you find to make in the text, the lower you can keep your design costs, and your overall cost per book.

About Us, Page Layout, Pre Press, Self Publishing, Writing

Free Guidebook on Self Publishing

Not much is free anymore, yet here is a perfect-bound (trade paperback) book with pricing and information any writer could use. Who’s giving away a free guidebook? Gorham Printing is, tucked away in southwest Washington, they are a manufacturer of dreams. Real dreams from the heart of people who have wanted to write the great American novel, author a self-help book, or the poet with a collection of sonnets and verse. For over thirty years Gorham Printing, a short-run book printer, has been churning out soft cover and hard cover books, of all genres, for authors and small publishers across the country.

Free 2014 guidebook available at GorhamPrinting.com
Free 2014 guidebook available at GorhamPrinting.com

What is a short-run book printer?

At Gorham Printing the minimum order is 25 copies of a book up to 2,000. Small only in size, with ten people full-time employees, this dedicated staff produces giant size professional quality and customer service for their clients. Kurt Gorham, owner, has created an environment of knowledge and expertise in Centralia, Washington, where thousands of book are designed and printed every year. This is an all-digital shop, producing books in black and white and full color. An author can place an order for one hundred books to be used as gifts, advance review copies, or for immediate marketing and selling in various venues.

Order Your Free Guidebook!

On the Gorham Printing website, there are various click points for ordering a free copy of their informative guidebook which includes pricing and details about producing a book-industry standard book. The guidebook is also a sample of the standard text and copy stock used at Gorham Printing. Get your copy today.