Welcome Guest.   Make a donation to an author on the site December 19, 2014, 02:16:02 PM  *

Please login or register.
Or did you miss your validation email?


Login with username and password (forgot your password?)
Why not become a lifetime supporting member of the site with a one-time donation of any amount? Your donation entitles you to a ton of additional benefits, including access to exclusive discounts and downloads, the ability to enter monthly free software drawings, and a single non-expiring license key for all of our programs.


You must sign up here before you can post and access some areas of the site. Registration is totally free and confidential.
 
Your Support Funds this Site: View the Supporter Yearbook.
   
   Forum Home   Thread Marks Chat! Downloads Search Login Register  
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Reply  |  New Topic  |  Print  
Author Topic: What are some of the best e-book lay-outs you've seen?  (Read 1878 times)
Paul Keith
Member
**
Posts: 1,982


see users location on a map View Profile WWW Read user's biography. Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« on: March 03, 2011, 09:15:10 AM »

I'm thinking of quitting blog and forum posting and just isolating myself to e-books (free amateur written ones) and I was wondering since many of you here read e-books beyond the desktop, maybe you could share some of the best lay-outs you've seen when reading through your collection.

Something that can be done through free software like Scribus and exported to pdf and hopefully nothing involving new fonts because I really don't understand typography and I also have a hard time backing up and re-adding fonts to an operating system.
Logged

<reserve space for the day DC can auto-generate your signature from your personal PopUp Wisdom quotes>
erikts
Supporting Member
**
Posts: 147


see users location on a map View Profile Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2011, 01:58:34 AM »

I read many e-books from changethis.com and right now I am reading The Bootstrapper's Bible by Seth Godin.
Logged
Ath
Supporting Member
**
Posts: 2,303



see users location on a map View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2011, 02:18:59 AM »

and just isolating myself
Doesn't it feel like you are actually isolating yourself? A blog is a non-restrictions entrypoint for any reader, but restricting your output to e-books (although free) is going to scare away a lot of your current readers, IMHO
Logged

mahesh2k
Supporting Member
**
Posts: 1,409



see users location on a map View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2011, 03:17:09 AM »

+1 ath.

By the way why not try smashwords ebook publisher if you're feeling like publishing ebook ?(smashwords release your book to bn, apple, kindle as well).
Logged
40hz
Supporting Member
**
Posts: 11,061



see users location on a map View Profile Read user's biography. Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2011, 05:32:28 AM »

IMO much depends on the subject matter of the e-book.

Books have personalities.

And the visual design should reflect that.

You would not want to use the same dimensions/fonts/layouts for everything. Because a book of poetry, or a collection of essays, would greatly benefit from a design quite different from one which might otherwise be perfect for a technical handbook.

(Note: this is considered very old-fashioned in some circles.  undecided )

One challenge will be to anticipate which hardware platform the e-book will be read on. Because hardware will not only have a huge impact on the aesthetics of the design - it will also, to a large degree, dictate what's possible. An e-book that looks good (and is doable) on an iPad won't be the same as one destined for a Kindle or standard computer monitor. Especially when it comes to font metrics, geometry, and the treatment of whitespace.

Despite arguments (and wishful thinking) to the contrary - one size does not fit all when it comes to e-books. So you'll also need some idea of which platform you're most likely to be read on. If I were to hedge, I'd go with designing for the iPad and Kindle at this point in time.

But to address your original question, right now I'd have to say my answer is: None.

I have not seen any e-book layout that I thought was 'good' as in "visually pleasing" or "pleasant to read."
But that's a fairly typical occurrence whenever a new presentation format gets introduced.

The 'best' of the lot were merely readable. The remainder ranged from mildly annoying to completely unbearable. There was nothing in the experience to make me feel the print book is threatened by anything other than the book industry's desire to go "totally electronic" as soon as possible.

Eventually, we'll discover what works and see format standardization set in. Once  that happens, book designers will finally have something static enough to design around.

---

So...

What sort of subject matter will you be e-authoring?

 smiley
« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 05:39:16 AM by 40hz » Logged

Don't you see? It's turtles all the way down!
Paul Keith
Member
**
Posts: 1,982


see users location on a map View Profile WWW Read user's biography. Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2011, 11:11:14 AM »

"You would not want to use the same dimensions/fonts/layouts for everything."

This is true and it is the reason why I made this thread.

Although...

I'm such a bad communicator that it is irrelevant what specific form I am writing in.

As long as a poster adds a "for poems" or "for technical handbooks" - it should be alright. I can't guarantee that I can replicate most of the lay-outs posted here anyway.

Nor can I agree with everything that's shared:

One challenge will be to anticipate which hardware platform the e-book will be read on. Because hardware will not only have a huge impact on the aesthetics of the design - it will also, to a large degree, dictate what's possible. An e-book that looks good (and is doable) on an iPad won't be the same as one destined for a Kindle or standard computer monitor. Especially when it comes to font metrics, geometry, and the treatment of whitespace.

I think the bigger dilemma is to have a unifying style across all platforms.

It's why, despite my being thankful to erikts for the changethis.com link, I really don't like the lay-out in the Seth Godin book he refers to: it looks pretty but it often forces the fonts to be smaller, it's a lay-out that breaks zooming on the desktop and finally it's a format whose intention is to have the outline headings be the focus rather than the meat of the content. A good lay-out for books that cross the line between blogs and books but not something that challenges both the writer and the reader to think thoroughly on the text or drop it entirely.

[...]Despite arguments (and wishful thinking) to the contrary - one size does not fit all when it comes to e-books.

I lean towards considering this a myth. For a book that should sell, yes. For text that can be read, an e-book is just a fancy .txt file. (barring color blindness and other special circumstances)

As you concluded, it's just a presentation format. If someone is truly charismatically skilled or truly knowledgeable about what they are writing about, the presentation format could simply be nil.

This is not me though. I need help.

A blog is a non-restrictions entrypoint for any reader :ath

It's only non-restrictive in the same way a forum post is non-restrictive: if it's a post that can be clarified, communicated and desired without adding images/tables/hooks, it's an entry. Especially if it doesn't need paragraphs or sentences or is purely a technical manual.

By the way why not try smashwords ebook publisher if you're feeling like publishing ebook? :mahesh2k

It's the style restrictions. I don't have a better style in mind but I don't feel like adopting any style either.

It's not purely from a desire to recreate the wheel. I'm sick at myself feeling like I didn't do my best when I edit something I write extensively only to give the appearance that I put no thought in my post or I was only writing for myself.

I want to merge and lose myself in a style where I added/inserted all the images at the right places. Added/inserted all the right hooks at the right places. Edited and scraped off all the wordiness at the right places.

Am I just isolating myself. No, I've already isolated myself with the way I communicate: be it text, speech or formatting.

If anything I want to shrug off this isolation. I want to lose myself writing for others and leaving little to no doubt that I did. I want something that comes off as longer than an average blog post but sharper, wittier and full of design qualities that would solidify to myself that I'm just not ranting. I want to concentrate on cutting my sentences as short as possible. My content as full as possible. My anecdotes only as minimally as necessary. My images only to optimize screen/web readability. I no longer want any chance of a short entry to be seen as thoughtless. I no longer want any chance of a long entry to be seen as rambling. Most importantly, I don't want a single hint of doubt creeping in my mind of me not writing for a reader; of me not trying to engage a reader that is smarter than me; of me not willing to consider readers that are dumber than me.

So...

What sort of subject matter will you be e-authoring?

Mostly the same/same I've been writing about: unproductivity, fiction and more polished version of these. (Although I can no longer call myself a hikikomori)

« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 11:15:45 AM by Paul Keith » Logged

<reserve space for the day DC can auto-generate your signature from your personal PopUp Wisdom quotes>
mahesh2k
Supporting Member
**
Posts: 1,409



see users location on a map View Profile WWW Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2011, 11:27:23 AM »

Quote
It's the style restrictions. I don't have a better style in mind but I don't feel like adopting any style either.
Don't worry about style for now, just try to write something that you like and then think about editing/proof reading stuff. I like reading your GTD stuff in GOE threads. You just need to make your points in simple possible ways (not too short or too long type of stuff like seth godin). By the way even mark foster suffers from this problem which you can see in his freely released book "how to make your dreams come true". I think his writing style in that book was very cryptic and it took me some time to understand his thoughts behind it.
Logged
Paul Keith
Member
**
Posts: 1,982


see users location on a map View Profile WWW Read user's biography. Give some DonationCredits to this forum member
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2011, 04:13:06 AM »

Quote
Don't worry about style for now, just try to write something that you like and then think about editing/proof reading stuff.

I don't mean to be arrogant but see there it is again: Think about editing.

...as if on average I don't proof read or meticulously consider my posts.

If I really want to think about editing then I have to include style.

No...I have to include everything. Beyond the "everything" that I know, consider or care on my current post per post basis.

...and for that, a book demands more from anyone than any blog or forum post.

Even if someone accuses a book author of not putting effort in editing, setting aside ghost writers, chances are few people would equate the lack of thought to be on par with a poorly edited blog or forum post.

Quote
You just need to make your points in simple possible ways (not too short or too long type of stuff like seth godin).

No offense to you or Seth Godin but I often found Seth's concepts to be... complicated and under-explained.

Take the bootstrapper's bible, based off of a quick skim, it's built on two things. Obvious (to the reader) outlines + anecdotes and references to stories to serve as the meat for concepts that can stand on their own as single sentences.

There's nothing wrong with doing it that way and in fact, it's how many successful marketers produce their most praised articles but there's two weakness that's lacking from that method.

1) When I sweep away at all the references, it becomes nothing more than a glorified motivational blog post. Inspiring but it's certainly not an attempt to make an actual useful guide more understandable. (This is based on my skimming.)

2) It's not simple. It's over-simplified. Everything written is almost to get the reader to nod their head and reduce their need to think. (again, my own conclusion although I've read other book reviewers of other books who have described certain books this way) I'm the farthest from someone who cherishes the elite feeling of figuring out a difficult book but the reality is I am not an expert. I don't write to provide the answers. I write to share my vulnerabilities, in the hopes that I might help others and others might help me. Most importantly, I've always tried to target my writing to someone who is as desperate as me.

For me simplicity is not about shortness. It's about a text that is as lengthy as necessary but not longer than that.

It's just one of the conundrums I have to face with my writing style. I hope this is clear enough but if it isn't, let's just say if I don't worry about a style (particularly the personality of a lay-out), I'll have to worry about something else like pictures, lack of sentences, over-use of sentences and forced number of sentences and other elements of style that technically isn't style.

Here: this is something I just finished writing while trying to do a Seth Godin-like post sans heavy addition of anecdotes.

I'm not saying it's a good copy of his style but just that mere attempt to mimic made me feel like I wrote one of the most unhelpful and useless blog post I've written.

This is not to discredit Seth or anyone else. It's not like I had a month of editing and proof-reading to squeeze the best example out of my own two fingers.

However, this is often how my simple articles turn out. Just as long. Maybe short. (Who knows anymore - I've heard it explained both ways) but ultimately something that feels hollow to write.

Quote
By the way even mark foster suffers from this problem which you can see in his freely released book "how to make your dreams come true". I think his writing style in that book was very cryptic and it took me some time to understand his thoughts behind it.

Forster and I are incomparable. He has a working system already. (setting aside a fanbase)

It's the difference between someone who has already coded a software and someone who hasn't.

Just the title alone would make people pick up and skim the book.

This may seem irrelevant to the actual confusion behind his writings but IMHO no one is going to write a forum post stating, by the way even Paul Keith suffers from this problem.

Just that alone means Forster can just lurk and he'll have a free reference to the different wants and needs of his audience. Even better, since he's trying to write "to them" and not with them - as most experts (and fake experts) tend to do, he doesn't really need to focus on a lay-out as much as he needs to focus on raising the acceptability and credibility of what he's saying. (and only if the lay-out is the problem does he need to change the lay-out)

There's a reason almost no writer uses e-books as a replacement for blogging and forum posting. If I was better or more intelligent, I wouldn't head down this route either. I'm not though.

I sincerely thank you and the others for at least having liked some of my posts here but to make up for my shortcomings, I need to raise the bar and be a better communicator and the deeper I considered all the advises that has been shared with me (along with those that I have read), the more I realize my blogging efforts just weren't enough and that if I put more effort into this, I have to settle on a single medium of publishing. If I blog, I have to know things like CSS and the correct placing of images as well as where to acquire them. I may even have to consider purchasing Premium Blogging Frameworks.

On the opposite end, if I go into e-book writing, I at least have a free desktop software in Scribus.  More importantly though, a book is heavily dependent on content. Even if I'm writing something which has no reference and is purely opinionated - the only reason why someone would add fluff is to make a blog post come away feeling like a book. There's almost no way that the amount of text I've written can be considered a novel. It may not even count as a short booklet.

Therefore, at the heart of e-book publishing is the challenge of content over readability. I have to make it readable, but after that, I have to put my soul even for something like a handbook because most of those who even consider to read it aren't going to care about it's length or it's clarity. It's all going to be about "everything" and the depth of everything I put unto my post.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2011, 04:20:09 AM by Paul Keith » Logged

<reserve space for the day DC can auto-generate your signature from your personal PopUp Wisdom quotes>
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Reply  |  New Topic  |  Print  
 
Jump to:  
   Forum Home   Thread Marks Chat! Downloads Search Login Register  

DonationCoder.com | About Us
DonationCoder.com Forum | Powered by SMF
[ Page time: 0.038s | Server load: 0.17 ]