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Four Centimetres

Istack of pages print vs ebook do most of my reading these days on either an iPad or Kobo, and sometimes a Kindle. All of these devices give me a certain amount of control over how the book appears –– font, size of font, margins, etc. I’ve come to appreciate the flexibility, just as I’ve come to happily ignore the occasional incorrect page or word breaks, or misplaced hyphens that tend to happen with ebooks. I still appreciate the feel of a print book in my hands, but much as it surprises me to admit it, I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would. What I realized yesterday, though, is I do actually miss the editing and proofreading process for print books.

For the past year, Iceberg’s new releases have been in ebook format. The model we’re using involves introducing a new ebook novella every couple of months then compiling all the novellas into a print omnibus for release at the end of roughly 12 months. Dedicated ebook readers get regular content; dedicated print book readers still get a book a year, which is a fairly normal print book cycle. And if ebook readers want a hard copy, well they can get that too!

Much of the editing process is the same for both formats, but when we’re editing an ebook, the final work happens with the Word file before conversion. We then test the ebook file on a variety of devices before it’s released… make sure page and line breaks are where they should be, test things like the table of contents, and play with different fonts and font sizes to get a sense of how they will look. But all the editing and proofreading has taken place before we get to that stage.

With traditional print books, the text from the Word file gets flowed into InDesign and formatted before entering the final production stage, so the editors and proofreaders work with the pages exactly as they will appear in the final print version.

Yesterday afternoon I printed off page spreads for a 588-page omnibus called War Footing, the compilation of five Champions novellas. Admittedly, the individual novellas have been edited already, but this will be their first time in print, and odd things can happen when files are moved from Word to InDesign and formatted. So a careful proofreading is required.

Perhaps I should assign that task to someone else –– there are a great many other things to keep me busy right now, not the least of which is a new day job in a new sector. But I’m honestly looking forward to tackling the four-centimeter high stack of pages… finding the oddities that have popped up with the formatting, while seeing exactly how the pages will look in every readers’ hands.

Yes, I’ve fully adjusted to the ebook age –– being able to carry hundreds of books around in my purse is like magic –– but my appreciation for print, and the craft of book production still runs deep. And I expect it will be for a very very long time.