Ever since the education sector introduced eBooks in classrooms for K-12 and higher education students, they are in dire need of good quality courseware. The quality of courseware or an eBook isn’t just defined by the content within, but also by the way it is presented to the learners. Students require an eBook that captures their interest and engages them. But since educational publishers have loads of content to convert into an eBook, they may not have the time to identify the best eBook conversion service which will give them a compelling eBook.
Creating an eBook has been made easy with the use of software tools and packages. Even individual authors can self-publish their eBooks today. But when you have a lot of content to build into an eBook, it is better to hand it over to professionals who are experienced in this domain and can guarantee a good quality output. Companies that offer eBook conversion services also usually offer eBook creation and distribution services. Although before you finalize an eBook conversion service provider, there are certain things you need to analyze and compare.
Here’s a guide to identify the best eBook conversion services:
A) What the eBook conversion software offers:
1. Multiple Input and Output Formats:
Select a software where you can upload any file format and get your output in whichever format you might need. The different input formats include AZW, Adobe InDesign, HTML, text files, XML, etc. Whatever output format the software allows, ensure that it has an option to convert your file into ePUB format. This is because ePUB is a popular eBook format that works across most reading devices. So, the software must allow ePUB conversion. The advantage of being able to convert to multiple file formats is that your learners can read it on smartphones, tablets and any popular e-reader including the Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad, Barnes & Noble Nook.
2. Layouts- Fixed / Reflowable:
eBooks are available in fixed and reflowable layout. Depending upon the content of your eBook, you can select appropriate layouts. Fixed layout is used for eBooks with a lot of illustrations and graphics, whereas reflowable layout is used for text-heavy books. Children’s picture books, coffee table books, recipe books are some examples which use fixed layout formatting. When you are creating eBooks for K-12 and higher ed students, some of the books might contain graphs, charts, and tables. So, ensure that the software gives you an option to design a fixed and reflowable eBook layout.
3. Updatable Versions:
Check if the software can be updated with newer versions. Companies that develop software tools usually release new versions every few months. Every new version has new upgrades, along with enhanced features. If you decide to purchase the software and use it yourself, this is something you need to be aware of. Because sometimes the users have to manually download the latest version of the software and re-install, or it is automatically updated.
4. Ability to Add Interactive Elements:
What differentiates eBooks from printed books is the fact that it is interactive. There are some common features which are available in every eBook such as zoom, pan, bookmark. But some software tools provide additional features like text search, page jump, font and size change, hyperlinks, day and night reading mode, table of content creation, read aloud etc. Look for a software which provides the maximum number of interactive elements.
5. Ability to Add Multimedia Enrichments:
You might want to add certain multimedia elements to make the eBook more engaging for your students. Multimedia files mostly include videos, audio, images and 3D animation. Check the file formats of the videos and images that the tool would support. For example, can the images be uploaded in jpeg format only or can you upload PNG as well? This information will help you while creating or searching for videos, images, audio files etc. to be uploaded in your eBook.
B) What the eBook Conversion Service Company Offers:
1. Additional Customization:
Another important thing is, you need to list out all the elements that you want in your eBook and check if the software can provide it. If the tool that you choose has everything you require except one feature, enquire with the company if they can provide the service that you want. You might want some customized features in your eBooks, if the eBook conversion service company fails to agree, then you might as well look for another service provider.
2. Manual Conversion of Printed Manuscript:
Some companies offer manual eBook conversion services, i.e. if you have a printed copy of your eBook content, it will be manually typed out and made into a digital document such as a word file. Although it is a tedious and laborious task which requires a lot of man hours, there are dedicated teams which undertake this job. So, if you wish to write a book in the old-fashioned way– with a paper and pen, do not worry as there are people who can convert your printed manuscript into an excellent eBook.
3. Data Security:
Ensure that the company offers data security and copyright protection. Once the content is uploaded on the web, it will be accessible to millions of people. With the right data security options, you can ensure that only authorized users can access your content.
4. Convert Huge Volumes of Data:
Your eBook could have a hundred pages or ten thousand pages. Irrespective of the number of pages, the company should be able to provide you error-free eBook within the stipulated deadline. So, ensure that they have the required resources and infrastructure to carry out the eBook conversion and scale up or down as and when required.
5. Check Samples of Their Work:
Before you give your project for conversion, check out some samples of their work. You can ask the company to show some of their previous eBooks which they have created. You can then see for yourself the quality of their work. If you are satisfied with their work, you can go ahead and finalize them as your service provider for eBook conversion.
Whether you are a small press publisher or one of the large publishers, in order to get a well-designed eBook, you need an eBook conversion software or eBook conversion services. You can either purchase one or use a free eBook conversion software and use it on your own, in which case you have the liberty to work at your own pace. Or you can assign the job to a company that undertakes eBook conversion services. These companies are usually quite proficient at their job, sometimes providing you end-to-end eBook conversion services, from conversion to publishing. All it takes is a software and a skilled team of experts, and they can provide interactive and engaging eBooks for your readers.