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From Print to Ebook

CreativePro Magazine issue 17 coverThis article appeared in Issue 17 of CreativePro Magazine.

“My design looks like that?!” one art director exclaimed after I showed her an ebook I had made from her newest print book.

“Yes. Yes, it does,” was my reply.

I am no longer defensive about how much the ebooks I produce deviate from
the versions designed for print. In fact, I embrace those differences.

That’s because my ebooks are built from the same content but for different audiences with different expectations and priorities. Print readers cherish a certain feel and texture—and even smell—when they open a book. Ebook readers want convenience, variety, connectivity, and choice. They want to customize their fonts, access linked notes, and use text-to-speech features.

The print edition always comes first, so that will be the starting point. I’ll adapt only the important elements that make sense for an ebook. And I’ll use ebook-native solutions when they make sense. In my experience, that’s the only sensible way to go about it. The point is to create an ebook that looks and functions well as an ebook, not as a poor stand-in for the print version.

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Kevin Callahan is an ebook developer, writer, and speaker based in New York City.