Conversion to eReader Formats: Just Like the Good ol’ Days

Published by Dan Loomis | Topics: Content Strategy, eBooks, Online Publishing

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People always say, “Remember the good ol’ days when life was simple?” I remember the days when creating a PDF file wasn’t so simple. When you wanted to print your proceedings book or publication, you’d have to send your native files to your printer so a print-ready PDF file could be created for printing your content as well as delivering it on CD-ROM.

The PDF format was developed back in 1993, nearly 20 years ago.  Today, PDF still remains a universal format for delivering content. However, a few things have changed. In the mid-2000’s, auto conversion PDF generators started hitting the market. It was believed by many associations that these new programs would make PDF creation a breeze…the ‘silver bullet’ finally arrived. Soon associations began to realize that fonts, scientific symbols, and often time’s images were not rendering as intended when using the auto conversion generators. There was certainly a learning curve. By 2008, things DID get really simple. The integration of Adobe PDF conversion tools into software applications like MS-Word began to make PDF creation really simple… So simple we hardly even think about the conversion process anymore.

Delivering Content with eReaders

Associations continue to look for new methods of distributing content. The introduction of the many eReaders is providing another delivery platform to consider. And of course this new delivery platform creates the challenges of converting existing content into highly usable documents that can be effectively read on eReader devices. Associations are once again looking for the ‘silver bullet’ to ease the difficulty of converting publication content to the various eReader formats. Isn’t funny how history has a way of repeating itself?

If you do decide to use an automatic conversion process, this list will provide you a good starting point of things to keep an eye on.

Six Things to Watch For When Converting to an eReader Format:

  1. Tables: Converting tables as text versus converting to an image will render distinctly different. If using colors in your tables to show comparisons, be sure to make sure color was retained.
  2. Images: Check to see if the image is rendering as intended. Also note that changing font size on an eReader device doesn’t adjust items included as images. Images remain their original size even if you increase font size for easier readability.
  3. Scientific Symbols and Equations: Check carefully to ensure all symbols converted correctly.
  4. Missing Text: Text can have a way of mysteriously disappearing. Review your content carefully.
  5. Page Layout: Indented formatting may not be retained. Page breaks may differ from your original content.
  6. Hyperlinks: Hyperlinks may not be retained if converting from PDF to an eReader format. Important if you have a table of contents or index for a conference proceedings or publication.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to test your converted content on the actual device you are intending members to use. For example, don’t assume if you test using Kindle for the PC that the actual Kindle will display it the same. Here’s an example. Notice the border and bullets.

Kindle for PCs

Actual Kindle Device

Before you look at the most cost effective way to convert to an eReader format, stop and think about the importance of the content you want to supply to your members or conference event attendees. Having your content converted correctly will ensure your content is viewed as intended… Helping maintain your brand and image as well as helping to maintain member satisfaction. If a member isn’t satisfied with the quality, they may not be eager to come back for more.

If in fact history does have a way of repeating itself, you can expect that eReader conversion technology WILL catch up to itself, and once again make conversion a process we hardly even think about!

Have you run into other issues when converting to eReader formats?


About Dan Loomis

When Dan Loomis took over as a Product Director, he aspired to be like his new role model… Santa Claus. “There’s no one more skilled in fulfillment than Kris Kringle,” Dan more

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