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Book Jackets, Words Per Line, and Other Book vs. eBook Issues

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On Tuesday, Publishers Weekly held the second panel discussion in its series on the transition from print books to eBooks. The discussion was focused on how various elements of traditional print books have equivalents in eBooks. Panelists included Matteo Bologna, founder and creative director of Mucca Design, a company that works on book jackets; Charles Nix, president of the Type Director’s Club; and Andy Hughes, vice president of production and Design at Knopf Doubleday.

Bologna made the point that it’s odd that book jacket images for eBooks mimic the shape of print book jackets, especially given that today’s kids won’t remember tradition book in the same way their parents do, just as those kids don’t even know what CDs are. Nix discussed optimal character count for reading comprehension, which he said was equivalent to 50-65 characters per line (10-11 words). eReaders tend to display more like 43 characters; he suggested that eReaders could promote easier reading by letting the right margin on the screen be ragged rather than justified.

Check out PW’s writeup (linked above) for more on the panel. It’s helpful that PW has decided to focus a series of discussions on the particular relationships and differences between print and digital books, and how the same skills and skilled professionals can apply their expertise to the digital field.

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