Siliconchips Services Ltd.

Fixed-format or Reflowable ebooks

Fixed-format or Reflowable?

Following on from our last post about the merits of EPUB 2 versus EPUB 3, we wanted to talk about how publishers decide whether their books should be fixed-format or reflowable. But first, what do these terms mean?


Fixed Format

An example of a fixed-format eBook

Fixed-format (or fixed-layout) is pre-paginated content, i.e. it’s an exact visual replica of the print book, including images and their placement. It can be useful for certain kinds of highly designed content, such as illustrated children’s books and graphic novels, and is intended only for larger screens, such as tablets. There is also the option for the reader to zoom in to specific area of the page by double-tapping and for the integration of the audio version of the same book, with the words that are being spoken changing colour as the narration proceeds.



An example of a complex reflowable eBook

Reflowable layout literally means that the text can reflow across pages to fit according to the typeface and font size selected by the consumer. It is wise to use only one column for all text, and images may need to be slightly relocated. In a print book, an image may be located mid-paragraph where the image is, for example, at the bottom of the verso and the paragraph continues on the recto. Reflowable eBooks can be displayed well on any device – phone, tablet or e-ink. It’s worth noting that all modern devices control for widows and orphans and have some control over tracking and kerning to give the best reading experience.

How to choose?

Publishers need to balance many things when deciding which format to go for. It costs considerably more to create a fixed-format eBook, but it will look identical to the print version. However, anyone who’s ever tried to read a PDF on an e-ink device (average screen size 6 inches) or their phone (average screen size 4.5 inches) will attest that fixed-format is not ideal for all devices. Publishers need to consider not just the end user but, crucially, what device they will be reading the book on. A tablet or iPad will display at closer to the original print size, but many people read on much smaller devices.

For children’s books it is more likely that they will be read on a large screen like a tablet, so it’s perhaps okay that the book will be an awful reading experience on an e-ink device (it’s worth noting that there’s little to stop your fixed-format book being bought on almost any device, regardless of suitability). Readers using a phone or e-ink device will be confronted with text too small too read, meaning they have to zoom and pan. So for people reading a cook book recipe on their phone while they’re cooking, this offers a poor reading experience.

Most books can be made reflowable with a little flexibility on layout. It’s not suitable for all books – a graphic novel would be impossible to make as reflowable, for example – but it does give you access to 100% of the devices out there and thus an increased readership. At Siliconchips we have years of experience with both formats and can help you decide which to go for or provide a free sample of each. Contact us – we’re always happy to help!

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Umesh Nair

International Executive with focus on Global Growth -20 years working experience in Germany, Singapore, India,Asia, Middle East, Switzerland, Europe across a cultural multi-functional environment.

Specialties: Business Strategy & International partnerships, Global Alliances network in Startup, Technology,Airlines, Aviation, Travel, online travel, E-commerce Business, Luxury Retail, BPO, b2b, ERP Software BusinessDevelopment – Sales, Go to Market, Growth Specialist, Incubation, Entrepreneur in Residence, Senior ClientPartner, Consulting, Market Research – Coleman Research, Lynk Global, Guidepoint, Insight Alpha, GersonLehrman Group.

Mr. Manoj Mehta

Mr. Manoj Mehta, is a Science Graduate and a Fellow Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), practicing as a Chartered Accountant since 1984. He had the great opportunity to complete his article training with M/s. S.V.Ghatalia & Co. (now part of E&Y, one of the big four Consulting Firms in India).

He has got vast experience of 40 years in the profession. His core strength is in the field of Finance, as a Corporate Advisor to public, private and multinational companies in the field of financial planning, raising debt and equity, structuring,  etc. His forte is strategic business and financial planning, compliances, deployment of funds, optimum utilization, budgeting, Preparation and analyzing of qualitative Project feasibility reports, anything and everything related to advising on financial decision making.

He holds trusteeship of a few charitable trust to show his philanthropy side.

He has held leadership roles and has been in the forefront in articulating values and beliefs in a team building approach.

Paul Evans

Dr Paul Evans has a long career in publishing in STM and business sectors since graduating from Oxford University and first working as a computer programmer. He worked for Reed Elsevier in a variety of roles for nearly 25 years (in UK, Netherlands and China) up to, in later years, Senior Vice President at the global headquarters in Amsterdam. He then became Managing Director for SAGE Publishing’s Asia Pacific company at its hub in Singapore for 7 years, doubling its size and performance. Latterly he was for three years Director of Nature Research China with Springer Nature in Shanghai and an adviser to the Chinese government for his industry, and then on return to the UK during Covid he has worked for Maverick Publishing Specialists as a consultant and Charlesworth Publishing Services as Director of Partnerships.

He has also taken a strong interest in education initially as a teacher in Japan, as a lecturer and course leader in Publishing Studies at a Scottish university, and now in working in UK education areas.

Bharath Ramadoss

Head of Production and Operations, has been with Siliconchips since 2015. In his time with us, he has managed a team of dedicated and experienced production team members, both in books, journals development.

A graduate of University of Madras, Bharath has a strong experience in quality, complex workflows in the publishing industry. His skill set includes e-publishing, project and team management, XML and HTML, content development, workflow improvement, and now working closely with technology team and developing various tools and platforms.

He enjoys cricket, and you will find him playing every Saturday.

Becca Mosher

Becca Mosher, US Editorial Project Manager, helped to develop the Siliconchips editorial department in 2015, and her team continues to grow. A graduate of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Missouri – Columbia, Becca has been in the publishing industry since 2007, where she has specialized in e-book project management, editorial management, and editing in a wide variety of styles at all levels, from proofreading to developmental editing. She is proficient in several languages and adept at client relations.

An avid board gamer, Becca teaches different games at a “Learn to Play” night once a week.

Abhijit Pathre

Abhijit Pathre, our Director of Account Management, manages data, accounts, delivery and operations, and maintains client relationships. He is highly experienced in the technology field and possesses excellent communication and problem-resolution skills; prior to joining Siliconchips Services, he was with Hutchison Global Services, working in 3G, and Goldshield Business Solutions, a UK-based Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firm.

He leads with a humbleness that compels the team to follow his direction. His firm commitment and his vast fifteen-year experience spanning various industries contribute to his essential role as a member of the Siliconchips Services team in India.

Shahid Chowdhary

Shahid Chowdhary began Siliconchips Services in London in September 2010, with one basic idea: to build an organisation committed to value-based leadership and promoting a culture of trust, transparency, integrity and mutual respect.

Shahid received his graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from NIT Srinagar and his post-graduate in Marketing and Finance from NMIMS, Mumbai – both leading engineering and business schools in India and he was certified by Baan in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). He has acquired numerous professional qualifications in innovation, strategy and leadership development throughout his career, including Leadership Management Institute (LMI) in the US and Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) in London. Over the years he has worked with various multinational companies in India, the US and the UK, including engineering, software development and publishing companies.

Shahid is the driving force behind Siliconchips Services; he focuses on new markets, business development, human resources development and planning for the continued growth of the company. He unites his teams across borders, and encourages a cohesive working community to give our clients a professional and pleasant experience with Siliconchips Services.

Over the weekends, Shahid spends time with his two daughters, practicing martial arts, and volunteering at the stables for his love of horses.