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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Upskilling Dictionary: Digital Department

By Sukhpreet Chana, Misha Manani and Joe Pilbrow

In this issue we are looking at the digital department. Put simply, the digital department of a publishing company deals with the production and sale of eBooks. eBooks were first sold online back in 1993. Since then, the eBook market has exploded, driven by the release of the first Kindle in 2007. eBook sales peaked in 2013, but demand remains strong and the digital departments of large publishing houses are now just as important as the print operations. Explore our dictionary to learn more about the key aspects of eBook production and digital publishing.

● Accessible Editions: When books are formatted into different versions for a range of readers. For instance, large print, braille, eBooks and audiobooks are some examples of inclusive reading material.

● Adaptive Design: When a digital design has been optimised to help users access and view content across a variety of platforms and devices. For example, customising layouts to ensure they adapt to desktop, smartphone and tablet devices. 

● Alt-text: A short or long description about the purpose and appearance of an image which is converted from text to speech for those with visual impairments. Alt-text is going to be addressed in the European Accessibility Act (2025).

● Digital Publishing Strategy: Publishers are developing their digital lists because of the growth in this market and its ability to increase accessibility and inclusivity in the industry. Some examples include Hodder Digital, Embla Books and HQ Digital. 

● Digital Replica: An online publication such as a magazine, newspaper or other form of online content which is implemented in the same way as a print version. It involves creating a digital format by replicating the original copy to produce an electronic version with enhanced features.

● Digital Sales: There are many players in this field, such as Apple, Kindle, Kobo and Google, which allow prospective readers to purchase and download eBooks. There are also apps like Glassboxx and Libby. 

● eBook Conversion Form: The editorial team sends this document to production when the final text file is ready. It can include information such as the book title, ISBN, publication date and eBook front and end matter.

● Electronic Book Rights: These are included in all publishing contracts as they are usually acquired alongside print rights for specific territories and formats, depending on the title.

● Electronic Paper: Also known as electronic ink, this refers to the display on an eReader that mimics the appearance of physical ink on paper. Unlike other displays that emit light, electronic paper only reflects ambient light, which allows an eBook to be read in direct sunlight.

● ePub: Short for Electronic Publication. This is an eBook file format that is compatible with most eReaders. This format allows the text to be optimised for any particular display. It also supports page bookmarking and passage highlighting.

● eReader: A device that is specifically designed for reading eBooks. Any device that can display text (e.g. a smartphone) can function as an eReader, but specialised eReaders (e.g. a Kindle) are optimised for important functions like battery life and readability.

● Fixed Layout: When the content on a page remains static and does not change size to suit a specific display. This might be required if the content and design of the page only makes sense in a certain layout.

● Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP): Amazon’s self-publishing service which provides free and simple tools to publish your book. KDP gives the author almost full control over important aspects such as content, design, price and advertising.

● Metadata: This is data about books that publishers input to increase the discoverability of the book so that consumers have a higher chance of finding it. It is usually similar to the hardback or paperback editions, but it might be tweaked for the eBook edition. 

● Offline Viewing: Digital content can be accessed without using the internet to download material. People can use applications which allow them to view the content when they are offline, along with other means of accessibility. 

● PDF File: A Portable Document Format using the Adobe Acrobat application to create, edit and view, which helps to retain the original format of the document. This can be used for eBooks by uploading sample chapters online.

● Reflowable Layout: The size and formatting of content on the page (headings, text, etc.) can adjust to suit any display size. For example, text in an eBook will fit on the page differently when viewed on a small Kindle in comparison with an iPad Pro.

● Smart Link: This is often connected to advertisements relating to other books or websites where consumers can click on the book image and it takes them directly to the Amazon page. Or publishers can have an “Order Now” link that reroutes them. 


Thank you for reading issue eighty-eight! Join us again for issue eighty-nine, where we will cover Upskilling Tips for Job Interviews.



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