35+ Tips for Quality and Streamlined E-Book Production
Even worse, a symbol converted incorrectly in a math equation will go unnoticed to all but a few experts—but for them, the mistake will "just jump screaming off the page," notes Brooks.
For Cengage, the solution is partially low-tech—having outsourced proofreaders painstakingly compare the original to the digital version ("Luckily, proofreaders are easier to come by than mathematicians," Brooks says)—and partially automated, through technologies that run multiple passes to check characters, links, formatted tables and multimedia features.
While most publishers will not have quality control issues this complex, there is much publishers can do to decrease the chance of problems later on. "Our Digital Content Development team reviews every e-book on all the major reading platforms before it's published," Cohen says. "We look for content consistency with the print book, quality in design, technical validity and cross-platform functionality. It's in this process that we account for the differences between reading platforms. In general, we try to aim high. If we always pander to the lowest-common-denominator platform, we cannot expect to see our e-books render better in the future."
Wilson says that Hackett "spend[s] a good amount of time with each book discussing … options and coming up with the best solutions for each title." She adds, "I would advise publishers just beginning with e-book conversions to really know the limitations of the formats as well as the limitations of the reading devices."
For instance, while most devices read EPUB files, not all have the same display capability or render styles the same way. "Really know where you'll have to make compromises, and really know if you will actually want to make those compromises," Wilson says. "Don't be afraid to send a long list of specifications (non-technical, of course) and notes to the conversions house for each title. Also, plan, plan, plan, but also be ready to be flexible—you won't be able to plan for everything. Working with the right vendor will allow your plan and strategy to grow and change as necessary."