What Publishers Need to Know About eBook Conversion

by Laura


For some publishers, printing and eBooks go hand in hand. For others, their titles are converted to eBooks later, or even released exclusively as eBooks. Regardless of whether you’re releasing both simultaneously or converting existing titles, Sheridan can help guide you through a smooth eBook conversion project.

Because conversion is just one piece of your eContent production, we aim to keep your steps simple. Your Sheridan Books representative will ensure that we take care of the details of the conversion process. On your end, you need to deal with two primary pieces: 1) selecting the right format and 2) carefully reviewing the converted content.

Step 1: Know your options

The eBook format options available at Sheridan include ePDF, ePub, Mobi, and XML. Your Sheridan representative can help you determine the right format(s) for your publication. Sheridan eCommerce Specialist Rachel Palmer explains that each format is designed for a specific kind of device and functionality.

ePDF — This file works like a print PDF and is best viewed on a larger screen, such as a computer screen. You navigate from page to page as you would with a print PDF, so if readers view this format on a small device, they will have to zoom in to read it. One important difference between a print PDF and ePDF is that ePDF has internal and external linking (for example, from the table of contents to chapter headings as well as out to a website). The overall format and page layout will be maintained in the ePDF.

ePub/Mobi — Both ePub and Mobi are flowable format, so the content will flow to the size of the screen. User-defined settings, such as font size, can affect how much of a page is displayed on screen. Thus, the overall format and page layout will not be maintained in these formats. ePubs can be read on most devices; Mobi files can be read on only a Kindle/Amazon device. ePub and Mobi are the most common types of eBook formats.

Extensible Markup Language (XML) — This is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable. This format is generally ordered for archiving purposes and is not very common.

Palmer advises customers to provide an application file, such as InDesign, Quark, or even Word, for the conversion source. “Not only is it more economical, but also there is less chance of error,” says Palmer. “When working directly from a PDF file, the file is first digitally scanned, which can introduce errors such as spacing or punctuation issues. For books that are converted from PDF [to ePub or Mobi], we recommend checking the converted file very carefully for errors.”

How to review converted files

Regardless of how you deliver your files to Sheridan, it’s essential that you review them carefully to be sure the conversion is accurate.

Once you receive and download your converted file, you can use Adobe Digital Editions on a PC or Mac to view ePub files and web-optimized PDF files. The Kindle Previewer (on a PC or Mac) is the tool you need to review Mobi files. If you’re reviewing on a device other than a PC or Mac, remember that some devices do not enable some features such as linking.

To ensure your eBook is correct, take the time to review both the mechanical features and the text of the book.

Mechanics — Go through the book and verify that all links work properly, including navigation links, Table of Contents, footnotes, illustrations, and index links. Make sure that links actually take readers to the right spot. For example, Table of Contents links should get readers directly to the correct chapter or heading, and index links should take readers to the page the entry is on.

Text — Read or scan through the entire text to check for technical errors that were not in your source file such as added spaces or capitalization or punctuation issues. Fonts may be approximated because ePub format supports standard fonts.

Sheridan will gladly correct any technical issues before finalizing your project.

Although most conversions follow the same general process, each conversion is unique. “There are different variables involved with each new order. For example, when converting at the same time as the print job, some customers want us to start as soon as the prepress proofs are approved instead of when the books are complete,” says Palmer. “We usually end up having a conversation about the process and talk through the variables.”

When you are ready to convert your book to electronic format, the experts at Sheridan can assist you in the conversion from beginning to end. We make eBook conversion simple and turnkey so that you can focus on the book rather than the process.

Click here to learn more about Sheridan’s conversion services.