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eBook Conversion Formats

As you prepare to convert your title into an eBook, one thing to consider is if your content should have a fixed or reflowable format.

Fixed layout formats are typically designed for printing and include PostScript and Adobe PDF. A majority of PDF files have a fixed layout, but occasionally some PDFs can contain extensions to make them reflowable. The content of fixed layout files is displayed the same way it will appear once printed. Images, words, paragraphs, and columns are positioned at fixed coordinates within a page, and the size of the page is imposed.

Reflowable formats are designed to be displayed on a variety of screen sizes as the content changes depending on the device. HTML and plain text are "reflowable" formats.

Below is a typical page of text:

If the page of text is formatted using a fixed layout to one screen size, only a fraction of the page can be displayed at a time (below). Users will need to scroll right and left to read each line of text.

The same page of text that's been converted to a reflowable format will "reflow" as it's displayed on different screen sizes (below). The width of a line of text always matches the width of the screen, making reflowable formats the best choice for titles that are mostly text.

Reflowable file format

Reflowable file formats are the best option for books that contain mostly text content and have a relatively straightforward layout. They are readable on all eBook reading devices and Apps. The content will "reflow" based upon the reading platform (device/software) being used, and may change appearance depending on the personal settings of the reader. Novels, fiction, and non-fiction books are typically converted to reflowable format.

Fixed layout file format

Fixed-layout books are a popular format for eBooks today, especially for Children eBooks. Unlike standard eBook files, fixed layout eBooks can keep the same page layout and design as their print book counterparts, and can sometimes contain enhancements that make them more interesting and interactive. Genres like illustrated children's books, travel guides, photography books, health and fitness books, art books, and comic books are converted in fixed layout format. Below are the different fixed layout conversions.

  • Fixed-Format Hidden Text (FFHT): This format is suitable for books without pop-ups and are typically locked in portrait mode. Text that is part of the background image has invisible HTML text laid over it, so that it's still selectable for dictionary lookup, word search, word highlighting. Each FFHT book may contain different fonts, so as to duplicate the source perfectly. The key advantage of this format is that the layout of the print page preserves the visual experience for text and images. Children books with special color fonts are typically converted to FFHT formats.

  • Fixed-format text pop-up (FFTP): This simplified format deactivates text selectability, dictionary look-up, and the NCX table of contents. The pages are generally locked in landscape mode (with some exceptions) and double-page spreads are stitched together into a single image. HTML text is laid over images so that, when double-tapped, the text is magnified in a box that appears above the original base text. Pinch-to-zoom, dictionary, and text-selection is not supported in FFTP. The FFTP format was designed for children's books with a low volume of text (a few lines per page is ideal) and double-page spreads.

  • Fixed format Virtual view (FFv2): In FFv2 formats, each page is a high-resolution image which the reader can pinch and zoom for a closer view, or double-tap the screen to activate a guided virtual-panel view. Portrait view shows one page at a time and activating the virtual panels takes readers to the four quadrants of the page with smooth panning transitions. Landscape view shows two pages side by side. Complex layout books with image spanning are converted in FFV2 formats.

  • Fixed format Panel view (FFPV): This format is designed for Kindle comic books where each page is made up of a single image. Each panel, when double tapped, pops up to reveal a magnified version of that image, and the rest of the page is grayed out in the background. Swiping between panels creates a guided reading experience so that readers are led through the panels one-by-one in the correct reading order. Pinch-to-zoom is not supported in panel view. The panel-view format is ideal for comics of low complexity, where rectangular panels are laid out uniformly on the page with little overlapping art or irregularity.

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