- what is fixed layout?
There are a couple of ways to create a fixed layout ebook. The way we do it is to export each page of the book and cover as an image and then combine them all in a single file. The other way to do it is to export the book file from InDesign but this method comes with a number of issues.
Each page of your print pdf is turned into an image. The cover is also turned into an image. These images are then combined to form a fixed layout ebook. So unlike with a reflowable ebook, you can't enlarge the text, or change the font, or zoom in. Everything about each page is absolutely fixed and identical to your print book. And the good thing is, for a children's book or a recipe book, that's exactly the way you want it! You don't want the reader to have flexibility to control the layout of a book that you so carefully designed in print. You want it to look precisely the way you intended.
Now there is another way to create a fixed layout ebook. In theory it is possible to do this in a way that makes all the text in the file fully searchable and selectable. You may read about this online. In reality, we would not recommend this method as it causes a number of problems. Firstly, the font used for any text in the ebook needs to be embedded and licensed. This can mean either paying hundreds of dollars to license a font family or swapping for a free-font and changing the appearance of the whole book. Then there are additional issues with curving text, special symbols, wraps and tiny text as well. Creating the fixed layout ebook as a set of image pages just avoids all these issues.
- any other considerations?
There are a few other considerations that it is important to be aware of when deciding if a fixed layout ebook is appropriate for your material. These include the quantity of text on the pages, the shape of the book pages and how you intend to sell the ebook.
A children’s book in a large font will look great on a big tablet. A customer trying to read a textbook font on a smartphone, however, is likely to end up with a headache. Some devices do let customers zoom in to read smaller text but this really doesn't make for a pleasant reading experience. If your book contains lots of text chances are it's just not suited to fixed layout.
The aspect ratio of the pages in your print book will not be the same as an ebook device. There is likely to therefore be an empty white padding area above/below your pages when you view them on a small screen. Also, if your book is designed to span double-page spreads it is possible to adjust the settings so your ebook opens across a double page. Things like this just need to be taken into account.
There are currently two main formats of fixed layout ebook: epub fixed layout (for Apple), and KF8 fixed layout (for Kindle). Currently that means you can only really sell fixed layout ebooks through iBooks and Amazon.
- what about my ebook cover?
The first page of your ebook will be an elastic cover image. Here we take the front cover image from your print book and style it so it expands to fit the screen appropriately on any small ereader device. If we have created your print book cover then we will have the cover file in the format required. If your cover was created elsewhere please provide it as a pdf and we will crop and include this accordingly.
The back cover is not typically included in an ebook file. Marketing information such as the book synopsis or author bio should instead be included as metadata when the book is submitted for distribution.
- how can I review my ebook?
You cannot just double-click an epub or mobi file and try to review it in your browser. Not only are these filetypes not supported by most browsers but your readers won't be reading your ebook on their desktop computer so it is just not representative of their experience.
To open an ebook file you need a proper e-ink device, suitable for viewing a fixed-layout ePub, ideally an iPad. Full details on how to upload your files to your ereader are provided on our help pages.
If you do not own a Kindle, one other option for reviewing the KF8 file is to use the Kindle Previewer. Just visit the downloads section to review your file in a variety of font sizes and formats with the Kindle Previewer 3.31. See this page for tips on how to review your ebook.
- what if I need changes?
Your ebook is a conversion of your print book. Any changes required will typically fall into one of these categories:
styling and edits
Your pages should look identical to your print version so if you spot anything to change then you will want to update this in the print book first. Our standard changes fee of $48 USD will apply to each file that requires correction.
When your book is converted items are tagged with html it is theoretically possible for an error to creep in such as pages in the wrong sequence or something missing. If you spot something please just send us include an image of the issue—either as a screen capture or photo—and we will investigate for you.
- what are your terms?
We do not have a written contract for you to sign. Instead we ask that you have read this know what you're buying section and accept our general terms and conditions which we have tried to make short and readable.