Ebook Conversion: How To Overcome The Top Issues During Conversion

Ebook Conversion

As the demand for digital content grows, more and more publishers are digitizing their physical books. Publishers rely on eBook conversion companies to convert physical books, magazines, white papers, reports, and other material into reader-friendly digital content with rich features. With the coronavirus lockdowns, eBooks and reading apps are thriving.

Advantages of eBooks include: saves space, provides easy and instant access to content, allows sharing of books, protects them from damage, can restore damaged books, is more cost-effective than printing, and protects the environment by saving paper. Technavio predicted that the digital publishing market would grow by USD 65.31 billion during 2021-2025, expanding at a CAGR of almost 13%.

What the Book Digitization Process Involves

  • Scanning: The first step in the digitization of books is scanning the book. A manual scanner can be used for small projects, but mass digitization would require a high-speed commercial document scanner with a high quality camera. In destructive book scanning, the book is unbound and scanned one sheet at a time before the actual eBook conversion process. Non-destructive book scanning technology can create a digital image of a page with hardly any damage to the text or images.
  • Image Processing: After scanning, the raw images can be improved with edits or touch-ups. Some quality improvement techniques include: cropping and straightening, de-noising, correcting any color casts, smoothing, and removing dust and scratch marks.
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR): Once cropping and cleaning page images is complete, (OCR is used to convert the scanned bitmapped image of text output and into machine-readable format. OCR programs extract and process the image of each page by identifying the text – character by character, word by word, and line by line. With OCR, the text can be searched and indexed for the users.
  • Quality Checks: To ensure that proper quality, the digitally converted book is checked for quality. If the content has any errors, it is re-scanned and/or re-processed. The digital book is also checked for missing or double pages. Blank ages are deleted.
  • Saving a Backup Copy: Creating a backup copy of the book is especially important if the destructive method of scanning is used. Keeping a master file of the digital book can overcome the risks of accidental deletion, viruses or malware, and other threats.

Challenges of Digitizing Books

  • Quality of Source Content: Quality of source content plays a very important role in ensuring superior eBook conversion. Hard copies deteriorate over time. OCR can provide a high level of accuracy, but if the source content has missing or faded text, warped images, brittle or damaged pages, or pages that do not lay flat for scanning, it can affect the quality of the final product. Most of these concerns can be resolved and high-quality digital files can be created using special scanning equipment and expertise.
  • Digitizing Visual Aspects of the Text: Besides creating a digital representation of the text content itself, the visual aspects of the text, such as type, formatting, layout, or paper quality need to be digitally represented. Also, text usually includes image content such as photographs, graphic illustrations, line drawings, blueprints, plans, etc. Steps must also be taken to make the text machine-readable by enabling full-text searching or indexing of the content.
  • Selecting the Platform: There are various formats for eBooks such as ePDF, ePub, Mobi, and XML. Each format is designed for a specific kind of device and application. An eBook conversion specialist will help authors choose the option that works best for them. ePDF is similar to print PDF and reader can go from page to page easily when the content is viewed on a larger screen. Readers need to zoom in to read the content if the ePDF is viewed on a small device. Both ePub and Mobi are the most common eBook formats as the content will adjust to the size of the screen.

    Device settings such as font size impact how much of a page will appear on the screen. While Mobi files is the format for the Kindle/Amazon device, ePub can be read on most devices. Extensible Markup Language (XML) is generally used for archiving purposes.

  • Creating Interactive Ebooks: Interactive eBooks can hold videos, giving authors the opportunity to reach a wider audience. But including links to videos in the eBook is a mistake as they can be viewed only if readers have consistent internet connection. Uploading the videos directly into the eBook can overcome this problem, but several factors will impact the final file size of the eBook, such as the number of videos uploaded and their quality and duration.
  • Handwriting: Traditional OCR has problems in recognizing handwriting. Advanced OCR technology that uses a highly trained machine learning model and other superior capabilities is need to read handwriting. Data entry services supported by proofreading services are a viable option when it comes to ensuring accuracy in conversion of handwriting to digital format.
  • Font Issues: Font size as in printed material does not display well on a computer screen, and digitization allows font size to be adjusted to cater to readers with vision problems. However, a printed page is easier to read than digital content which can cause eyestrain.

Sub pixel rendering could enhance the resolution of fonts on eBook software and hardware. Subpixel rendering technologies leverage the subpixel structure of a display to improve the apparent resolution and enhance the display quality of text as well as graphics or images.

The challenges of digitizing books are not limited to the above. That’s why many publishers are choosing to work with professional eBook conversion companies to get their books digitized efficiently, accurately and quickly.

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