eBook Conversion: Why It Matters And How To Get It Right

The publishing world has gone digital! With a value of 18.13 billion USD in 2020, the eBook market is projected to reach 23.12 billion USD by 2026.1 How can this booming market be leveraged effectively? What does optimal digital delivery look like? And how can eBook conversion be approached in a way that guarantees quality and success?

Read on and learn about why eBook conversion matters, which types there are, what challenges should be overcome, and what requirements should be met.

eBook Conversion: The What And The Why

The Publishing Industry is evolving, still now that the digital age has transformed our reading experience. And with this, eBook conversion has become an industry standard. eBook conversion refers to the process of converting a book, either in analog or digital format, and optimizing it for digital delivery.

eBook Conversion Services make sure that your digital manuscript is compatible with major eReading devices that can be sold on big players in the eBook retail industry such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and so on. While eBooks are very popular as a standard among self-published authors, even authors with books available in a print format often want to sell an eBook version of their work as well. This is because eBooks come with major perks such as:

  • Visibility and adaptability have become the norms that define the success of digital publications. For this reason, your content should be successfully converted to different formats and be made compatible with smartphones and tablets as well as popular e-readers. In fact, you can increase your visibility even more if you decide to translate your eBook.
  • You can vastly increase the reading convenience for your readers but also make it more convenient for yourself to easily integrate updates and new materials.
  • eBooks come with advanced features that deliver immersive learning experiences, such as multimedia and customizing the layout of the book.

 

Okay, we wanted to list these as main features, but there is more to it and more nuances to be explored. Let’s have a quick look at the main pros and cons of eBooks. After all, you will want to make the best decision that suits you as well as your audience:

Pros of eBooksCons of eBooks
– Big space saver: one device can store many books and many buyers use the opportunity to expand their collection
– Tend to be more cost-effective in the long run can be purchased from anywhere
– More environmentally friendly
– Read aloud features are available, helping visually-impaired and blind people.
– eBooks are more likely to be a victim of pirating
– eBooks come in a variety of formats and not all format fits each device
– You might miss out on the market still passionate about printed books (unless you offer both?)
– It could undermine books designed with some level of artistic investment

Pro Tip! Want to make sure your eBook is found? In our blog on Multilingual Book Summarization, we explore the best practices to ensure that your eBook is optimized for eCommerce Platforms and will rank for your specialty, topic and keywords.

eBook Conversion Types And The Conversion Process

The eBook conversion process follows a set of best practices that starts with the knowledge of which devices are compatible with which eBook formats, and how the process can be optimized in a way that keeps the eventual edits to a minimum. So, what are the compatible eBook formats for some of the most popular reading devices?

Reading DeviceCompatible eBook Format
KindleMOBI (a native Kindle format), AZW, AZW3, DOC, DOCX, HTML, RTF, TXT
iBooksePUB and PDF
KoboePUB, PDF, TXT, HTML, RTF, MOBI, CBR, CBZ
InkbookePUB, PDF, TXT, HTML, RTF, MOBI, CHM, DOC, FB2
Android (FBreader)ePUB
Computers & TabletsePUB and PDF
Barnes and Noble’s NookePUB and PDF

You may have noticed from the table above, that ePUB is the most usable and popular eBook format out there. Let’s have a brief look at the conversion process of common file types to the most popular format type, ePUB.

Format Type Conversion Process
Word or searchable PDF to ePUBThe content is copied, pasted and processed in a Desktop Publishing Tool, such as InDesign, to get the details in the formatting right. After that, it is converted to ePUB.
InDesign to ePUBOnce a document has been processed in InDesign or if the original file comes in an InDesign format, fonts will need a Unicode font and full formatting is applied before the file is converted.
Scanned PDF images to ePUBThe content will be converted using OCR (Optical character recognition) and edited if need be.The text will be verified and proofread.Desktop Publishing will be performed

As far as the actual conversion process goes, each converted file goes through a Quality Assurance (QA) stage where the conversion quality is confirmed by running the file through various readers. Any required edits will be made in the XML files.

Choosing The eBook Format That Works For You

Technical details might not be enough to make the right choice of which ebook format is best for you. However, if you can ask yourself the right questions, you are almost there. Consider this:

  • Where will your eBook be published and distributed?
  • What type of content does your eBook support?

Where Will Your eBook Be Published And Distributed?

If you are selling your eBook on big online retailers such as Amazon where their native eReader Kindle is most commonly used, then, if you remember our compatibility table above, you will most likely go with Mobi or AZW since these formats are compatible with Kindle. If you prefer to sell from Apple, Kobo or Nook, you will want to go with EPUB. EPUB is also a  fine choice if you want to sell your book directly from your own site, although in this case a MOBI or even a simple PDF can also work.

What Type Of Content Does Your eBook Support?

So, what does your book look like? Is it just plain text or does it have a lot of visuals? If you mainly have text, make it easy on yourself and go for TXT or PDF files, especially when self-publishing. If you make extensive use of graphics and images, both PDF and EPUB will work for you. If you value versatility and flexibility, EPUB will serve you best.

Where eBook Conversion and Translation Meet

eBook conversion and translation is a collaborative process where technical and linguistic authority matters. To put it in clearer terms, eBook conversion should achieve:

  • Full accessibility and functionality: a bug-free, smooth conversion should be established. Advanced tools, as well as human expertise, should be used here so that the process can be optimized and critical errors can also be weeded out.
  • Visual optimization: the text should be formatted according to language, font, and readability in digital formats. Here too, human expertise will be valuable (more on this later!).
  • Language support: if the eBook will also be translated, native, in-country linguists with subject-matter expertise should be provided.

While eBook Publishing Companies will be able to excel in providing technical solutions, they commonly lack the ability to offer linguistic expertise. Language Service Providers (LSP) on the other hand, will deliver linguistically sound services and also have a Desktop Publishing Team and text verification assets at their disposal. However, they may lack the technical authority eBook Publishing companies possess. Only a few LSPs have the same technical capabilities that ebook publishing companies have, and the trick lies in identifying them. Make sure that both technical and linguistic authority in publishing is offered. Because relying on automatic conversion tools without human expertise to confirm the output could severely undermine the quality of your product.

eBook Conversion Common Challenges

Considering the linguistic and technical complexity, eBook conversions do come with their set of challenges. But the good news is that when you’re dealing with a reliable vendor, all of these challenges can be met with customized solutions.

RTL Languages And Format Types

The complexity of the eBook conversion and translation project will depend on many factors. Two leading factors are the language type and format. Whether the project starts from a Word Document, InDesign Format, or scannable PDF, will determine the length of the project as well as the expertise required.

But beyond that, the language type also has its impact. RTL languages, Right to Left Languages, such as Hebrew, Farsi, and Arabic, often require additional formatting when the tools used are not optimized for its application. Although there are some regular expressions that could be used to fix the bi-di, or bidirectional issues, these can’t be applied globally.

That is why you will need professional DTP experts to take the formatting into their own hands (more on this later!). If there are issues involved, that will require heavy coding and localization engineers will need to take over.

The Quality Of The Source Content 

An additional challenge can present itself in the quality of the source content. Text could be blurry, hard to read, or visually confusing because it includes complex elements and fonts, or it could be presented in multiple languages. Or perhaps, you want to scan older books but are worried about the integrity of the already brittle pages or the book’s fragile spine.

In these cases, special scanning equipment will be required and a special team of experts along with conversion specialists and linguists will be put together. When processing scanned documents or books with OCR, compromised source content quality will require human revision. So, how does this work?

Once the document has been analyzed and the textual areas have been defined, an OCR-Tool will give you the option to select some predefined setting to determine the outcome of your document. During this Text Verification process, errors such as corrupted characters, or missing words that couldn’t be extracted in the OCR outcome, will be weeded out by native linguists/proofreaders who will compare between the original text against the OCR outcome to make sure it is free of any issues and it is perfectly identical to the source text.

Pro Tip! Want to know more about the OCR Process and how it can benefit the translation process? Check out our blog How OCR Can Boost Translation Efficiency For Non-Editable Documents!

Material Variety And Scale

Simple eBooks with a limited number of pages and images will be easier to convert than more complex files. Complexity, variety and scale can depend on the presence of:

  • Images such as photographs, infographics or drawings
  • Embedded, ordered and unordered lists
  • Customized content types such as formatted text boxes, images and content in margins, and so on.
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Columns

The greater the variety of these elements, the more complex the conversion process will be. More specialized teams may need to be set up and the before-mentioned balance between technological and linguistic expertise becomes extra important.

Accessibility

Recent international regulations such as the Section 508 refresh,2 are inviting businesses and publishers to think about accessibility. eBooks should be accessible, and making sure they are from the start, will avoid pricey edits and reworks later on, and increase general usability for consumers. While HTML-coding can be used to enable accessibility, proper authority is needed in order for this to be done successfully. But the application of the necessary structural semantics, known as the WAI-ARIA specification (Web Accessibility Initiative-Accessible Rich Internet Applications), will be a lot easier to apply when an XML-first workflow has already been set in motion.

Desktop Publishing: When Looks Matter As Much As Substance

When eBooks are converted, the formatting will require the same amount of attention as the actual content. This is where Desktop Publishing (DTP) Experts come in.

DTP experts are an invaluable asset when presenting and formatting your visual features. Other than making sure your visual materials appeal to local audiences, DTP experts make sure that formatting issues are fixed. If you have a formal document, for example, the DTP team will make sure that the format of your document is the exact same when translated.

DTP professionals are highly trained in respecting the detail of a product and know how to address cultural variances that will uphold the visual potency of your materials in the global market. The DTP expert’s job includes formatting complex languages and characters.

Pro Tip! Learn more about the application and value of Desktop Publishing in our article What is Desktop Publishing?

Make Sure Full Security Is Ensured

Last but certainly not least, during the conversion as well as the translation process, make sure to enlist the services of a vendor that promotes continuous end-to-end encrypted communications and translation that drives optimal performance with updates and bug fixes. What’s more, make sure that all the parties involved will be asked to sign an NDA Agreement.

Conclusion:

eBook conversion and translation require technical, linguistic, and visual authority and will need to be handled by a vendor who can cover all of these aspects. While specific challenges may rear its head depending on the condition and complexity of the source text and file, there will always be customizable solutions if the appropriate experts are assigned.

At Laoret, we work with linguists, DTP experts, and localization managers who know how to cover eBook conversion and translation from A to Z. Our customizable solutions and tools are guaranteed to fit each client’s need, and our end-to-end encrypted technologies guarantee full safety. Reach out! We remain available 24/7.

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