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“Breaking the Page” Release: Preview Edition Ready for Readers!

I’m thrilled to announce the release of the “preview edition” of Breaking the Page: Transforming Books and the Reading Experience (iBookstore, Amazon, O’Reilly). In this free download, I tackle one big-ticket question: how do we make digital books as satisfying as their print predecessors?

I’ve studied hundreds of recent publishing experiments, comparing them all to what I’ve learned during a 20-plus year career as writer, editor, and publisher. My goal: distill best-practice principles and spotlight model examples. I want to help authors understand how to use the digital canvas to convey their best ideas, and how to do so in a reader-friendly way. As app book tinkering flourishes, and as ePub3 emerges as an equally rich alternative, the time felt right for a look at the difference between what can and what should be done in digital book-land. That’s my mission in Breaking the Page.

The preview edition’s three chapters focus on some basics: browsing, searching, and navigating. This ain’t the sexiest crew, I know, but it’s amazing how hard it is to get this stuff right. I focus on examples good and bad, toss in a few design ideas of my own, and suggest how to include these services in a way that makes digital books pleasing on eyes, hands, and minds.

Ahead, I’ve got a head-to-toe tour of model digital book features planned for the full edition (coming mid-2012). I’ll be focusing on questions like:

  • What’s the best way to integrate—and not just add—different media types? And, on a related note: is it possible to make the viewing experience as seamless and immersive as reading is in print?
  • How do you design content and reading paths on what is, essentially, an infinite canvas?
  • How do you pick the best balance between personalized design (reader-controllable font sizing, for example) and author-driven fixed layout? Are there any acceptable compromises?

While I’m pushing ahead to the finish line, I’d love to hear what you think. Suggestions, examples, critiques…send ’em all my way.