Why e-Books often Look so Ugly

07 Oct

Many e-books I downloaded are riddled with typographical and formatting errors, the result of the process that translates the files publishers use to print physical books. Another reason is that authors are trying to DIY their e-book formatting instead of using a professional formatting company – who charge often only between a hundred or two-hundred dollars for a fiction book.

The problems range from strange gaps in the middle of a sentence to hyphens that are inserted in inappropriate places and the odd period is missing, not to mention all the typs that are a result of not using a professional editing service. E-books today are where the web was in its early years.  These mistakes, both distract and detract from the reading experience, and readers get the impression that no one is paying attention to the quality of e-books. Try a Google search for “Kindle typos”, it will yield more than a million hits.

Part of the problem is that some formats do not have a way to ensure that blocks of computer code remains intact and properly formatted.The better ePub format is based on the XML and CSS standards and is used in millions of web pages and allows for far more control over layouts than is currently possible with the .mobi file format.

The best course, if you want a nicely formatted Kindle book that provides a pleasant reading experience, is to create an HTML file with CSS and then carefully manipulate that code to get the display you want. Or hire an e-book formatter or conversion company.

Hopefully, as e-book readers get more popular, they will become more sophisticated, bringing in e-book designers that understand a changing world of digital publishing and creating beautiful books with layout design and fonts that are so important in publishing as we know it from paper books. Your readers may very well notice the difference.


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