Recently, there has been a proliferation of “digital publishers” that will convert your brochure to a page flipping PDF. These are great for those who want a literal translation of their documents for reading on several platforms. However, this approach fails to make the most of what the technology has to offer.
What can’t a PDF do – and why would I want to create something new?
A PDF in its traditional format was designed as a way to transport static documentation that could be guaranteed to look the same on all platforms it is viewed on. This was a great leap forward when it was invented back in the late 1990’s when it meant that you didn’t all have to be running the same software to preview files or send hard copies to clients – and I even remember creating animations of flipping pages in the early 2000’s. However, a traditional PDF such as those utilised by many page flipping companies, software and plugins rulers out what is best about the eBook platform.
In 2015, we can now add videos, audio and animations to our eBook formats (i.e. ePub 3.0 which is utilised by iBooks and many other readers). These are true eBooks that take full advantage of the media available to further explore, express and convey the content of your book. These are great for “How To” topics as well as taking the reader on a tour behind the scenes, for additional content on a subject that they want to explore further. Imagine how much books have changed in last 20 years – especially for the education and manual arena. Now most books that teach us about or how to do something have lots of visual imagery to support the text. eBooks enable us to take this to the next stage – especially for complex subject matter.
Now reading a book doesn’t have to be a passive experience. We can now add interactive features such as puzzles, workbook sections and more that can enhance a book’s content and help the reader engage with the content more. Think of the fun you had as a child with a pop up book – now this is the adult equivalent where learning can be fun for adults too!
Now an iPDF allows you to do some but not all of these things… however support for interactivity across all PDF readers is not yet stable. Even simple interactive features such as buttons are not supported within the iPDF framework. This is why as ePub 3.0 support widens, we encourage our authors to go down this route instead. iPDF is great for all platform coverage currently, but ePub 3.0 will only continue to grow and it will change how electronic publishing functions.
How can I utilise interactive features within my eBook?
This is the easiest bit for the author – simply give us an idea of how you want the interactivity to work and we will do the tricky bit. So if you want a diagram that the reader can label, we can do that and more using interactive fields the reader can fill in, and then “reveal” the correct answer.
Also, by having a video or animation, you can start to grow a following on YouTube, use the video in your social media and more. Book trailers are now seen as a key way to draw in new readers.
But you haven’t mentioned Kindles!
The Kindle (as in the older paperweight versions NOT the Fire tablets) can’t handle interactivity or moving imagery. But what it lacks in tech, it more than makes up for in accessibility! A large population of readers can ONLY read on Kindles due to visual impairment. It is a common misconception that blind people use Braille books to read, yet with the non-glare surface of the Kindle it is ideal for those suffering problems with their eyesight. Someone in this situation would be unable to read the PDF flip books (and would find the animation more of a hindrance than a benefit), and would therefore be unable to engage with your content.