Electric Book Works Publishing reinvented for the digital age

Electric Book links: beautiful epub designs, free children books, and two great jobs

Digital book production is a young field, and it already has a rich history. There’s a lot to reflect on and learn from. In this month’s links, I rediscover Liza Daly’s Epub Zen Garden, and reread Craig Mod’s prescient essay on screens versus paper. And Dave Cramer talks us through the technical past, present and future of epub.


I was thrilled to discover that Liza Daly’s Epub Zen Garden lives! A conceptual successor to the wonderful CSS Zen Garden, it shows the power of visual styles to transform a reading experience. Many of us learned so much wandering through these gardens, and I thought Liza’s creation had vanished. The tragedy is that CSS support in major ereaders is so inconsistent and poor that we almost never see designs like this in the wild.


Craig Mod’s powerful ‘Future Reading’ essay from 2015 is worth revisiting: ‘Digital books stagnate in closed, dull systems, while printed books are shareable, lovely and enduring. What comes next?’ It’s as on-point today as it was four years ago. And it captures so well why we at Electric Book Works believe that print and digital formats are symbiotic, and not at odds.


I’m still sharing highlights from #ebookcraft: Dave Cramer’s talk on the past, present and future of epub is informative, insightful, and funny, and will leave you in equal parts despairing and inspired about the future of ebooks. (While you’re at it: EPUBCheck is now at version 4.2.1: update your validators if you haven’t already. It’s getting better all the time.)


Our favourite sibling organisation, Book Dash, continues to do amazing things to bring free, high-quality books to South African children. If you haven’t heard about it, this is a great overview on the Global Reading Network blog.


At Electric Book Works, we have opportunities for a developer and an intern, who’ll help us make books and improve our tools in Cape Town. We’d love to hear from talented people with big, book-loving hearts.


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Arthur Attwell 10 June 2019