eBook Publishers – give me choices!

eBook ChoicesLast night, I downloaded an eBook sample from Amazon. The eBook was offered by a fairly large and well-known publisher, and the title looked interesting.
After opening the sample, I noticed that the font was rather unusual and hard to read. I didn’t recognize this particular font, but it was so thin in places that parts of certain letters just disappeared.
No problem, I thought, I was reading on a Kindle Fire, which offers me several font choices. Simple enough…
So I invoked the reading menu, selected the “Typeface” selector, and I got the following message:

“Typeface options are not available for this title”

My first response was “Dang…” and then I thought “Why?”

Well, my guess is that the digital manuscript called out an embedded font, and that font is the only option the publisher gives me. I’m also guessing that the font was used for a print version of the book, and whatever conversion process they used simply stuck me with an unchangeable font style. In other words – I think that the publisher didn’t even consider giving the reader choices that SHOULD come with the eBook version.

Okay, so I read a portion of the sample with the ugly font, and then moved on to a different eBook title that I also downloaded a sample of.

Again, I was reading on my Kindle Fire, and it was dark, so I have my screen set to reverse the text and background color – another option on my device that make night reading easier on the eyes. So, I’m expecting white letters on a black background, but all I see is blank pages. One after another…

…and I had seen this before. So I changed my display back to black letters on a white background, and sure enough, there was now readable text.

My first response was “Dang…” and then I thought “Why?”

In this case, it seems the publisher did give me choices on the font I wanted to use, but locked in the color black for the text! So the black text didn’t show on the black background.

Once again, I’m guessing this was an oversight by the publisher, not intending to lock out my choices, but simply not knowing any better.

I think any publisher who puts out eBook titles, should at least check them out before they publish them. Wouldn’t that seem reasonable? I’m guessing that the vast majority of publishers out there – those that produce both print and digital titles – are simply running their print files through a conversion process and then uploading the files to retailers.

Perhaps they don’t realize that by NOT calling out a specific font or font color or background color, that the device will simply fall back to its internal defaults – which will then allow me my choices.

I also think that publishers should either learn how to properly format an eBook, or hire someone who knows how to do it properly – giving the reader the choices that the devices allow for.

Does this seem like too much to ask?


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