Buyer's Guide: The Nuts & Bolts of Apps & Ebooks
Where book apps truly diverge is in their nearly unlimited capacity for interactive and customized experiences: Interactive diagrams, animation, audio and video recording and playback, and game-like features are much more endemic to apps. Apps can also be designed to incorporate live updates of new content and features after the app is released.
Ebooks also live inside a reading app, where book apps are typically a stand-alone icon on a user's device. Also of note are branded publisher "shell" apps, which can house ebooks and serve ecommerce and e
Many Paths to Create an Ebook
Publishers typically pursue one of three ebook creation strategies: hiring an offshore conversion service, purchasing software solutions, or partnering with a digital solutions provider.
Based on sheer volume the dominant approach for creating ebooks is sending PDF files to a conversion service and having EPUB files built from them. That path is attractive because labor costs are much lower, but there are often limits to what PDF conversion can yield. "Conversion works well enough," says Martin Hensel co-founder of TextCafe, "As long as you are talking about creating a single-column text like a mystery or science fiction book." For more complicated outputs, like ebooks with interdependent links or charts, publishers may need to purchase authoring software or partner with a provider.
2. In-House Solutions
Methods for creating ebooks in-house vary in levels of sophistication. The simplest approach might be purchasing a single, end-to-end software product that creates ebooks, such as Apple's proprietary iBooks platform. Other retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo provide similar services. Although these creation platforms require little investment, publishers cannot produce cross-platform compatible ebooks on them.
A more common and slightly more complicated approach is implementing a software solution like Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite. Thad McIllroy, digital consultant and founder of The Future of Publishing, recommends DPS because it supports a variety of formats, including EPUB, and is relatively affordable. McIllroy believes that this type of solution is ideal for publishers who want to create simple, reflowable EPUB titles, well-suited for straightforward trade books.