Fixed layout is the format of choice for many designers of picture-laden ebooks. Until very recently, the tools for such ebooks were few or highly technical. The format options are fairly broad for ebook authors of non-fiction and fiction books that are primarily text-based. Epub is the format used on iPad and many other tablets. Kindle uses their proprietary AZW format. Other formats include CBZ for comics and of course the ubiquitous PDF. The PDF is a standard for print publications and is often used as a container of ebooks requiring a fixed layout. However, PDF is not the ideal format for picture-style ebooks.
Designers of coffee table-style ebooks have had to jump over some hurdles before they could see their creations appear on e-readers. Successful picture books usually required coding beyond the typical ebook. Since most independent artists & photographers have neither the interest nor time to learn to write software, the examples we’ve seen of picture books in the app stores have been developed by start-ups or large publishers whose has relied on talented and savvy coders and technical staff to create their ebook.
The holy grail of picture books on the iPad and other ePub books has been the fixed layout format. The type of ’wysiwyg’ (what you see is what you get) design we’ve grown accustomed to in desktop publishing has been sorely missing in design for mobile devices.
Finally, one developer has charged out of the starting blocks with an app that is so simple to use that an artist or photographer can produce a fixed-layout epub book in a matter of days if not hours. Interestingly, it happens on the iPad in stead of the desktop. The *app, ’Book Creator’, developed by Red Jumper is now available in iTune’s app store.