Saturday, February 20, 2010

In a town called eBook Perfect

Most of the books I read these days are in eBook format. While I have a few print books cluttering my small bookshelves, I tend to shop the online bookstores more than I do the brick-and-mortar ones. Yes, it's a personal preference and I know many consumers are splitting their shopping between the brick-and-mortar and online bookstores as well. As the amount of e-readers grow and more manufacturers look for ways to attract customers, improvements to the reading environment continue to occur. It got me thinking... what if I could have everything I wanted in an eBook (regardless of the eReader), what would that look like?

  1. Styling: I'd love to see eBooks retain their styling when opened thru Stanza or any other reader. Words lose meaning when the inflection is gone. How else am I to know when the main character's thinking about the plight ahead if not for these visual cues we've come accustomed to seeing in print? This, of course, is the publisher's responsibility. To create an aesthetically pleasing book for the reader. I have found some publishers have improved on this over the years while others still have garbled text or broken formatting in books I've purchased.
  2. Font Choice: While I don't consider myself a typography snob, I enjoy reading books in a font that is not only pleasing to the eye but also one that includes a full diacritic and phonetic character set. It may not be necessary for every eBook--a textbook would have a higher need for this than a romance book but as the digital market grows and the ability to transfer print media to the digital medium grows, the ability to see vocabulary words in a textbook retain their phonetic spelling is important.
  3. Access to Cover/Backcover/Blurb: Every eBook should have easy acces to the front cover. I love it when I get to a particularly descriptive part of the story and check to see if the cover artist envisioned the same thing I did when illustrating the cover. Publishers should make these bookmarked pages within every book so the reader can go back and look. Most readers choose books by their cover (despite the refrain). Having access to the book's blurb once it's downloaded, is also important. If you buy books in bulk like I do, I may not remember what the book was about when I finally get to it in my digital bookshelf. Having access to the blurb in the Book Info would be of great benefit to me as a reader. You can do these things with print, therefore you should be able to do so with digital.
  4. Gain Repeat Customers: Make the author's other works easily accessible through your backmatter. Use this ad space to help your readers return to your pub with more goodies to buy. Amazon's learned this well with their suggestions. If this is the suthor's breakout novel, offer a method of contact for readers to reach the author and add "suggestions" for other reads as well. Many publishers have already started using this method of advertising and marketing for their author but I still find books where I've loved the story, want to read more from that author and have to go search through various online bookstores to find the author. If my search takes too long, I will stop and just pick the next book that tickles my fancy.

These are just a few things I'd love to see in the eBooks I purchase. What else would you like to have in your eBook that you currently have in the Print market?