Since 2009 we’ve been living in a highly pressurized system.
When publishers make HTML and CSS mistakes, we are actually glad. It generally means the publisher has decided to move beyond submitting PDFs to IPG for conversion. They are trying to address the problem head on.
In other words, when e-book problems are high touch and high volume, the only way to keep things straight is with systems that allow us to address the problems quickly and efficiently.
Give me a moment to describe what I mean. [submission screen]: this is a form publishers fill out to ensure the e-book files and metadata are correct. It is chock full of automation and computer validation to make sure the title gets off to a good start.
[titles in progress screen] This screen will show publishers a bit more of a zoomed out view—all of the titles that they are working on at the moment, with indications about what needs to be next. In this case, the publisher has submitted a PDF to us and the relevant e-book metadata, and it has passed initial QA review. Now we are waiting for the conversion house to complete their work.
AAUP 2015: Fonts in E-Books (C. Matthews)
IPG delivers between 50 and 250 e-book files to market each week.
IPG and E-book Fonts: Context
More than 6,000 e-book files went through IPG systems in 2014.
IPG makes money only when client publishers make a sale.
This means that IPG is highly motivated to ensure that its e-books are
saleable, and in general, this means that our publisher’s e-book problems
are our e-book problems.
IPG is exposed to any and all possible e-book problems (we’ve seen them all)
IPG and E-book Fonts: Overview of Problems
Problems with links to retailers and prices embedded in e-book files
Problems in the NCX, OPF
CSS / HTML quality problems: publishers (still!) using calibre, don’t
understand export to ePub in indesign, and other home-grown techniques
to try to create e-books.
Font problems, especially with publishers not providing embedded fonts
So what has this exposure taught us?
Conclusion: Fonts are Not the Real Enemy
The real enemy is time.
The issue is not with fonts. Or with anything else like fonts.
The problem is that there is an issue with [x], and now its too late to fix it.
For IPG, the High Touch, High Volume, e-book distributor, this means both
lots of computers, and lots of people.
Solution: Better Workflow Tools and Visibility for Publishers
Solution: Workflow Software and Systems for Staff
Each e-book file is considered individually, with the following in place:
Solution: Workflow Software, Systems, and Staff
Page-by-page review in Adobe Digital Editions, Apple iPad (iBookstore) Kindle
Fire HD, eink to ensure the following:
No links to retailers, prices in interiors
Rendering and font issues
Anything in between. We throw humans at this problem because
e-books turn out to be hard core artisan objects, with more instances
of rules flouting and idiosyncrasy than you will find in any physical book
at our distribution center.
Case Study 1: Image-Based Diacritics in Reflowable Backlist Niche Religious Text
Publisher delivers a print-ready PDF to IPG, asks us to provide a conversion quote
The PDF is full of diacritics (conversion company stated that a full 70% of the text was
some form of diacritic or another), the publisher could not locate embedded fonts or a
native production file.
a) insert each diacritic as an individual image, place in a reflowable ePub.
The PDF is a scan, but the publisher has run OCR on it prior to delivery to IPG.
b) Capture each page as an image, place in Fixed Layout formats, and use OCR text in
background to make text searchable.
c) Sell only as e-PDF
Costs still high, limits exposure to just a few fixed layout retailers that
won’t sell the title well anyway.
No additional costs, works with library accounts that may be good for this title.
Case Study 2: Specialized Embedded Font in Reflowable ePub
We have a publisher that produced a (physical) book on macular degeneration.
The publisher wrote the book for people with the disease; therefore the fonts
used in the title needed to be tailored to low-vision readers.
A series of focus groups led to the use of a font called Frutiger.
The publisher approached IPG about e-book editions.
Solution: Reflowable ePub / Mobipocket files with the use of the Frutiger
embedded font, which the publisher was able to provide along with the
native production file.
Reflowable format allows maximum market exposure; embedded fonts allows
for an affordable, optimal reproduction of the physical title.