The Design and Construction of eBooks, by Steve Thomas


I’ve been creating ebooks since 1998, building the web site eBooks @ Adelaide from a proof-of-concept single text into today’s popular collection of nearly 3,000 works. In that time — almost 15 years as I write — I have learned a great deal. I blush now to think of the earliest efforts, and today’s books are several orders more sophisticated in their design and construction than my first attempts.

In this short book I have attempted to distill everything I’ve learned along the way. It may encourage others to contribute to the world of ebooks: so much the better for the world. There is a great wealth of books out there waiting to be made available in accessible formats.

This book is in two parts. The first gives an introduction to the design and construction of ebooks, from the perspective of my experience with the eBooks @ Adelaide site. Design issues are largely subjective, therefore this will be a very personal view of what constitutes good ebook design.

The second part deals with the technical details of structure and presentation. It does contain large dollops of HTML and CSS code, and those with prior knowledge of those will doubtless derive more from it than the novice. But I believe that even those new to coding will find it sufficiently clear to follow. CSS in particular is highly readable.

I must acknowledge the support provided by the University of Adelaide Library, in providing server space for the collection and allowing use of its name. And of course I must also acknowledge the efforts of countless unnamed volunteers who have scanned, transcribed and corrected the raw text of the thousands of works available on the web. Without their work, neither this nor the majority of ebook sites could exist.

Last updated Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 23:27