Why Fixed Layout?
What Is a Fixed Layout eBook?
Almost all eBook conversion services do standard free flowing eBooks. These are the easiest eBooks to format. Most people do not know what a fixed layout book is or when to use it. We specialize in creating fixed layout eBooks and re-formatting previously published printed books into eBooks. Formatting fixed layout eBooks is time consuming and difficult to do, but the results can be beautiful.
Standard Free Flowing eBook
A free flowing (flowable, re-flowable, free-flowing) eBook is used when you have a lot of text and few illustrations. Novels are a good example of this kind of eBook. With a free flowing eBook the reader can change the font style and size. As the reader scrolls through the book from page to page, the text flows along with each page turn. The illustrations fall in line with the text. So you could have a few paragraphs of text, then an illustration followed by more text. It is very much like reading a printed novel. Free flowing eBooks work on many different devices. This screenshot shows a spread for this kind of eBook.
Fixed Layout eBooks
Fixed layout eBooks do not re-flow their text. Fixed layout books are important for eBooks that will be heavily illustrated. If the text needs to stay with the illustrations, then this is the book format you should use. Young children books are good examples where fixed layout works best. Cookbooks, coffee table picture books, textbooks, and technical books are often done in fixed layout. Here is an example of a fixed layout eBook.
When to use Fixed Layout eBooks
Any book that has lots of illustrations is appropriate for fixed layout books. None of these examples below would be very effective as a free flowing eBook. These subject categories lend themselves to fixed layout eBooks.
- A book with lots of illustrations, photos and/or drawings.
- A book where the text is on one side of the book and the illustration on the other side.
- A book where you want the text to stay with the illustrations. This includes a book where the text is laid on top of illustrations.
- Any time the text has to stay with illustrations – you should pick the fixed layout option.
Illustrated Children’s Fictional Book Using Artwork
In this example, the text is coded to lay on top of the illustration. This allows the text to be crisp and be interactive with reading devices.
This is not a PDF example where the text is embedded on the artwork. In a PDF book, the text is often not as crisp, nor is it interactive.
Illustrated Children’s Book Using Photographs
This is a screenshot of an iPad published book. This eBook has many interactive features – photo zoom, slideshows, popup windows, interactive index, and others.
This example spread shows two interactive touch buttons that would open a new window with additional photographs and information. There are also two blue words that can be pressed for pronunciation.
Cookbooks Are Good Candidates For Fixed Layout Books
Fixed layout provides the opportunity to use illustrations, tables, sidebars and other visual tools.
This cookbook layout includes interactivity for the iPad. The touch buttons at the bottom of the book spread can open up new popup windows with more information. The last three images below show the result of the reader pushing the buttons: Hints, Equiv and Nutr.
Children’s Project Book
Project or how-to books usually are not done successfully with free flowing books.
Here is an example spread of a children’s fixed layout eBook.
Coffee Table Photography Book
Beautiful coffee table books can be created with fixed layout. This custom layout was designed using text and photographs. A special header was added to the layout. The page header is a single jpg image which includes a title and small inset photo.
Which Retailers Sell Fixed Layout books?
At the present time, only a few retailers support fixed layout books. The biggest problem is each retailer has specific coding you have to use for their devices. This means that eBook developers have to make a completely separate formatted eBook for each retailer. This process is difficult and very time consuming. Many eBook conversion companies that do fixed layout eBooks only provide a book file for one single distributor.
Barnes and Noble has its own proprietary software used to make fixed layout eBooks. You have to apply through their corporate headquarters to become a publisher with them to receive their B&N NookKids’ software. Barnes and Noble normally only gives their software to big publishers. Most eBook formatting companies do not have agreements to do fixed layout books with Barnes and Noble. Those that do have agreements with Barnes and Noble will act as your publisher for the book. If we did code your book for this retailer, we would have to act as your publisher and then pay you a royalty from the book sales.
In order to keep cost down for the author and at the same time get the best distribution, we decided to limit our eBook formatting to Amazon and Apple. We feel you can get the best sales from these two retailers. We saw one report stating that a particular author’s book sold 200 times better on Amazon than the same book on Barnes and Noble.
Your book would be viewable on devices that support ePub3 fixed layout books. We design and format eBooks so they work perfectly and look great on the Amazon Kindle Fire and Apple iPad devices. After eBook conversion, we test and review your eBook on many devices before we send you the ePub files – specifically the Kindle Previewers, iPad, Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD and Kindle for iPad.
We Guarantee You Will Be Satisfied With Your Book!