Q: Is your book The Mad Art of Caricature! ever going to be released as an eBook? If so, will it be available for the Kindle?
A: I’d like it to eventually be available as an eBook for the iPad, Kindle and Nook, but making that happen is problematic.
I have been researching ways to convert the book’s digital publication file to ePub (iPad) and PRC (Kindle/Nook) formats, and it’s not going to be an easy thing to do. There is no magic way to take the book’s Indesign master file and just convert it. That might work for a text-only book like a novel, or something that has only a few illustrations, but this is an illustration intensive book and the text directly relates to the illustrations in ways that preclude any simple conversion. There are currently three ways that this can be done:
- Redesigned for ePub- This method would create a regular eBook format that has text that is resizeable with changeable fonts, can reflow with resizing, and is fully searchable. In order to do this, I’d have to completely redesign the book from scratch, placing illustrations inline with the text like a web page and understanding the relations of the illustrations and text would be changed depending on the sized text the reader chooses. Additionally, elements like the captions of the illustrations would be almost impossible to control. In other words, I’d be putting together an entirely different book devoid of much of what makes the printed version work well. Not an option for me.
- Image-only format- This is the way that comic books and picture books are done, where each page is a static image. Text does not reflow nor can the type font be changed, resized or searched. While this retains the integrity of the original layout, it makes the book less easy to read (text is rendered as an image and subject to pixelization), nothing is searchable and the file size would be enormous (90 mb). Not ideal, but doable.
- Fixed-layout format- This is a newer form of eBook format, which is perfect for graphics-heavy books like children’s books or instructional books like cookbooks or textbooks that require graphics in a specific positioning with text. These books have fully searchable and “zoomable” text but retain the layout of the original print. This is the ideal way to go for my book, but right now only Apple offers the ability to use this kind of format in a non-fiction book. While Amazon has this type of format available, they inexplicably only allow children’s books to use it.
By far the easiest way for me is option two. That could be done easily and (relatively) inexpensively, and be available for all three formats in short order. I just question if people would be willing to have such a huge-sized file on devices that have very limited capacity for storage, and put up with the slow response that may also be a result of the file size
I suppose I should ask you, the readers who might be interested in an eBook version, what your preference would be? Is there a general interest at all in an eBook version? Leave your opinion in the comments.
One other thing, should I get an eBook version going, I would likely take the opportunity to add back in some material I edited out in order to make the book size more manageable. I had a section on drawing children, a bit on exaggerating expressions, several more examples of live caricatures and a section on coloring live caricatures with the airbrush that got left on the cutting room floor. I’m not trying to entice any double-dipping, but I didn’t want to cut that stuff in the first place and adding it back in is a plus.
Thanks to Earl B. for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!