Most eBooks released on the market today replicate their print counterparts almost exactly and this, from both a pagination and a look and feel perspective. I’m not saying it isn’t right. There are many reasons for this, the amount of time and effort having been invested in laying out and designing the book being the most commonly expressed. In these cases, we could say that it is the print production workflow, rather than the user experience, that drives the eBook production.
The popularity of Fixed Layout eBooks reflects this idea of retrieving on digital screens a replica of what we have on the page. Yet this concept conflicts with the very notion of digital web reading, which is what eBooks should be about. If styles may be similar, layout and reading techniques need to be different. Below are two examples that illustrate the concept of digital reading very well :
Inkling eBooks and their elegant presentation.
The redesign strategy of the New York Times. See some descriptions here.
In the methodology being set up by Publiwide to create eBooks as dynamic (re-flowable) EPUB 3, the role of CSS is critical for the document’s presentation. Building a CSS, whether matching closely the original book styles or diverging from them, will depend on the strategy adopted by the designers. The convergence of both competences will fully make sense for publishing houses aiming at controlling the production of eBooks and setting guidelines in the way both products (print and digital) are “branded”, with the style being defined separately from the layout and the reading experience.
Thanks to the template concept, Publiwide encourages publishers to determine a specific “skin” for their eBooks collections, something that will differentiate print and digital products at the click of a mouse and a concept that will partially automatize the publication of EPUB 3 documents. EReader applications compliant with EPUB 3 specifications will optimize the rendering of advanced elements of styles encompassed in the latest version of CSS contributing to an enhanced reading experience for digital users regardless of their device.
As a related topic, we found this reference about bridging the editorial gap between web design and traditional graphic design.