We love epubs! Epub 3 can literally do anything you wish for (including interactivity), and epub 2 is perfect to create beautiful books with. Epubs, however, are not designed to look like print books. They have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Managing and maintaining layouts can be a significant issue because epub (and mobi/prc) is a reflowable format; unlike a PDF, the page structure is not pre-set and fixed by the publisher, but changes according to the reader and its settings.
Rich text formatting is widely supported, but multiple columns won't work.
Consequently, publishers and authors need to be aware that they have less control over layout. This can be problematic for writers and publishers of poetry or of books containing long figures and pictures. Editorially, you also need to be aware of the impact this will have on the current use of internal referencing. Numbering of pages won’t work, but you can use clickable links for your cross-referencing.
In ebooks, complex tables can cause some problems. Again, this is because epub (and mobi/prc) is a reflowable format.
The screen size varies between devices, and the font and font size differs per user. Depending on the settings selected by the reader, one can fit 3 to 11 words in a line on an e-reader device or tablet. This can have an undesirable effect upon the presentation of tables, impacting on column alignment and what can be seen on the screen.
With epubs, the reader can select the typeface and font size from the range offered by the creators of the e-reader, tablet or app. The iPad offers a wider selection (the default being Palatino) but the consumer decides the font they want to use, not the publisher or author. If you wish to have a greater control over the font, embed it.
Some devices, such as the original Kindle e-ink device, are monochrome only: when producing for e-readers, keep in mind that if your colours are not contrasting enough, your readers might won’t be able to see what is on the picture.The majority of ebook files in the market are reflowable, which means that the text can be resized by the reader who gains control over the settings.
However, it means that illustrations and captions do not always stay together; there is no control over where the illustration will fall on the screen and whether there is sufficient space to accommodate the caption as well. At the moment, these formats are not able to accommodate landscape captions. When the title is particularly dependent on keeping the same layout as the print version (as it would be with an atlas or a picture book for instance) then a reflowable ebook will not offer a good reading experience. For titles like these, choose fixed-layout epub.
This option is only supported by certain retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Kobo and Nook. Apple, Kobo and Nook all support fixed layout epub files, though each one requires a slightly different version. Amazon supports fixed layout in their KF8 files.
Converting a print index into epub and mobi/prc format is far from ideal. Currently the approach is to convert print page numbers into sequential numbers, those sequential numbers are then hyperlinked to the top of the equivalent print page. As epub/mobi is reflowable, the index reference itself could end up being several screens away from the top of the equivalent print page which makes navigating to the reference awkward. Some publishers choose to drop the index because of this, while others decide to live with the weaknesses associated with a converted index.
Footnotes are not widely supported: we recommend converting footnotes into endnotes.
Non-Latin script based languages
Non-Latin based languages can easily be accommodated. Read more here.