The recent official launch for The City We Build, the amplified ebook made between if:book and the Queensland Poetry Festival, has highlighted some of the challenges faced by authors, publishers, and readers when designing digital books that take advantage of their capabilities.
Regardless of how well designed or how beautiful its content, The City We Build is unlikely to ever reach some readers. This is because it has been designed for one digital platform alone.
Writers and publishers alike want their content accessible and available to as many readers as possible, but in the digital world this means taking into account a wide variety of devices. Some have high colour screens that can handle video and other content. Some have more simple ‘eink’ black and white screens that are simply not fast enough to handle anything other than page turns (and even those are too slow for some readers). Some devices are connected to the internet and handle much more than just reading; others are largely unaware of anything on the web other than their own bookstore. Some devices use highly response touch-sensitive surfaces, others opt for physical buttons.
Some devices are available in Australia, others are not.
It’s entirely appropriate there should be no one-size-fits-all reading device. But, for creators of content, this incredible diversity of devices presents a challenge of first principle.
What kind of book are we making here?