E-Book Challenges: 5 Things That Are Hard To Do In E-Books

E-Book Challenges: 5 Things That Are Hard To Do In E-Books

Last week I posted Five Things You Can Do With E-Books. Today I consider their limitations. Here are my top e-book challenges:


If a book needs references, I prefer footnotes to endnotes. However, with the font resizing aspect of e-book readers, displaying footnotes is challenging at best and impossible at worst.

Charts and Tables

Including a text-based graph, chart, or table in an e-book is problematic. When a reader changes the font size, these elements will also be adjusted. Once resized they can go from functional to unreadable. Compounding the problem is that each device will render them differently. Straight text just reflows; specially formatted words become convoluted.

Artwork and Graphics

Any non-text image, such as photos, pictures, line art, figures, or graphics solve the issues caused by changing the font size. But they create another problem. Their size is fixed, so if they are too small on a certain device, they cannot be enlarged. This makes their inclusion more frustrating than helpful. 5 things that are difficult to do in an e-book. Click To Tweet

Fixed Formatting

The PDF version of my book How Big Is Your Tent? , for example, contains special formatting to give readers a unique reading experience. Some text is left justified, other lines are centered, and, some words are to the far right. Other times, successive lines each contain one additional indent to present a staggered appearance. Also, by design, certain concepts are self-contained on one page. None of these formatting decisions can be retained in an e-book, as adjusting the font size messes up all of these layout choices.

Color or Not

E-books with color may disappoint readers using monochrome devices. Conversely, e-books in black and white will limit the experience of readers with color devices. These e-book challenges are a conundrum for e-book publishers.

What else is difficult to do in an e-book?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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