We Are Gods 1: Evolution of eBook formatting


Kudos to all the programmers and the visionaries who funded the process by which we can publish online and read in the bathtub.
But the indie writers, by the fact of writing, are developing formatting that works for an international readership with multiple viewing options. Our job is to present our stories in text and image as clearly as possible. There is no “traditional” eBook format guide.

We’re writing that guide. You and I. By the choices we make. We are our own formatting gods.

I’m excerpting from from another writer on this topic. This isn’t about who is “right.” This is about making choices.
… adhering to publishing world standards … [it] speaks to upholding tradition and consistency … of respecting all the author’s work who’ve come before us …

This was the prevailing attitude when online publishing began. Programmers raced to develop page turning, and books that looked like … well open books. People didn’t want it. They didn’t need animated pages turning. They just wanted to get to the next part of the text as quickly as possible.

Indie writers are the “publishing world.” A portion of it, anyway. We are authors and promoters and publishers. Paper book publishers have their own formatting guidelines, often different from each other’s. Those guidelines evolved, too: different in the 30s than the 60s than the 00s.

As for respecting author’s who came before, they just did what publishers required because they had very little control.

The true tradition, IMO, is that of doing the best thing possible to deliver your art, in whatever form, to the experiencer. I imagine if Shakespeare showed up today, he’d be Stephen Spielberg, not recreating the Globe theater. Respecting him, or any great artist of the past, means serving our art by learning our trade, using all our tools, innovating when it serves better, depending on known modalities for the most part.

Trad standards developed for print books aren’t about tradition. They’re about making the book work for readers while making a profit for the publisher.

That’s what new eBook standards will also be. What is new, now, will be traditional in a decade.

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