Electric Book Works Web, mobile and print publications

Changes to ebook parts

Imprint page

Copyright notices vary from publisher to publisher. In the short to medium term, the only thing to remove is any reference to printing and any wording that applies only to physical products (e.g. references to photocopying can be rephrased generically as reproduction). In the long term, a more comprehensive revision of a company’s copyright notice could be undertaken to suit the nature of digital products and the evolving ethics of copying (e.g. copying for personal backup use is a contentious area).

The imprint page text should include ISBNs for the print edition and all related ebook editions (e.g. separate ISBNs for static (e.g. PDF) and reflowable (e.g. epub) versions). Once it is standardized, we recommend including the International Standard Text Code (ISTC, see http://www.istc-international.org.)

Note: All information on the imprint page must be included in the ebook’s metadata as well. The visible imprint page described here is only for human readability. For ebooks, ereading systems must be able to find and parse this information as metadata. All ebook formats include ample means for including all imprint-page details as tagged metadata. (Metadata should also include other items, such as back-cover blurb.)

Front cover

In almost all instances, the front cover of the print edition becomes the ‘marketing image’ of the ebook. This image should be in colour, 150dpi, and close to but not more than 1000px on its longest side. (Images at 72dpi will break up on high-resolution e-paper ereaders with large screens, such as the Kindle DX; the 1000px maximum keep the image manageable, but big enough to allow the reader to zoom if necessary.)

(In isolated cases, it may be necessary to replace the print front cover with a new cover (e.g. rights to the cover image may only cover certain territories, or the colours and finishes used for print may not translate readably on screen or at thumbnail size. This should be very rare.)

Back cover

Items often placed on back covers should be dealt with in different ways:

  • Book blurb: Include only in metadata. This text is only necessary in the browsing and purchasing process. By putting it in the metadata you expose it to purchasing and ereader systems for browsing, but keep it out of the reader’s way once they’re reading the book.
  • About the author: Move to endmatter (see above for order). This text may optionally also be included in metadata, if your ebook format and metadata standard (e.g. Dublin Core) allows for it in its standard specification.
  • Recommendations/press/celebrity comments: Move to endmatter (see above for order). This text may optionally also be included in metadata, if your ebook format and metadata standard (e.g. Dublin Core) allows for it in its standard specification.

Font usage

In conversions to reflowable formats, embed high-quality, open-licensed fonts (e.g. Linux Libertine) wherever a book may include special characters or scripts (e.g. Arabic, scientific notation) that a basic ereading system may not support.

In all other cases (e.g. simple novels, biographies) do not embed fonts. Let the ereading system assign default fonts on the device. This will reduce the size of the ebook file and reduce the chances of conflict between ebook and device CSS.

For PDF, embed font subsets (of the print-edition fonts) as is common with PDF files.

Folio ornaments, headers and footers

Unless they form part of the semantic function of the book (i.e. they contribute to meaning), exclude all headers and footers, especially where they involve decorative elements.

Decorative elements at chapter openers should be retained if they are small and simple, to retain some of the character of the design that the production team intended. Do not retain drop caps as images, but only as simple CSS declarations that can be ignored by underpowered ereading systems.


Pictures are best dealt with case by case. By default, follow the order of the print edition for simplicity. It is rarely worth spending time rearranging pictures in an ebook edition (e.g. changing a picture section in print to pictured interspersed throughout the text in an ebook is an unnecessary luxury).

4 May 2010
This information is more than two years old, and may no longer be accurate. Contact us to check, or log an issue on GitHub.