35+ Tips for Quality and Streamlined E-Book Production
It's also important to know which formats are likely to see major changes or be replaced, Brooks says. "Mobipocket is embedded in the Kindle platform, but you don't hear about it so much anymore," he says. "Kindle is built on it, but it's got to change. It can't handle really complex tables except as images … so … that's got to be in Amazon's plans."
Choosing a Vendor
Because many publishers outsource their e-book conversion, it is challenges like these that make choosing the right vendor so important. For Indianapolis-based independent publisher Hackett Publishing, the most important factors in choosing a vendor are client list, references and price. Open lines of communication are also critical, especially when dealing with design issues or problems with an e-book's performance on a device, says Liz Wilson, project editor at Hackett. "You must … be confident that they understand the problem, even if you aren't tech-savvy enough to understand it yourself, and … that they will fix the issue in a timely fashion," she says.
"As with any service provider, that back-and-forth is key," she notes. "Just because an ad claims a company can convert your books doesn't mean they will do it well or with care. I cannot recommend strongly enough that a publisher looking to start converting a backlist begin with one or two of their more difficult titles as a trial, like an audition. The last thing you want is to blast off a ton of titles and get back a big mess. A small trial will not only let you see how the conversion house works, but it will be a big lesson for you in learning how to prepare files and conversion instructions."
Larger publishers have similar needs, but on a different scale.
"In our vendor-selection process, we take into consideration the quality of the vendor's work in terms of design and technical validity, their ability to meet deadlines, their communication skills, and their experience with and knowledge of e-reading devices and software," says Samantha Cohen, director of digital content development at Simon & Schuster.