I spent some time last weekend creating my first e-book. I’ve done hardcopy books before, but e-pub is a new thing for me.
Converting couple thousand pages of text into a book that I can read on my iPhone was fun, and it remembered me just how much work goes into getting all the details just right. If you don’t do them, it’s not a book anymore – table of contents, named index, both cross-linked to correct pages, cover design, font sizes, headers and footers,… as a reader, i really appreciate these ‘features’, and I miss them when they are not in.
As I was programming these features (because doing it manually in some Adobe software would be just too long give the size of the book), I realized that it’s not much different than programming a web site – getting core content online is easy, but these days to actually call it a website, it has to have so many more features working hand in hand with the content, that it takes 5x longer to do it than it did 10 years ago.
and I realized it’s the same with any creative industry / work – there’s so many details in every good picture or motion picture, that a random viewer can’t really grasp, but she will nevertheless recognize ‘good’ from ‘bad’ based on them. Print is just the oldest ‘industrialized’ creative industry, and web the youngest.
This is why this is sad news – there will never be as much effort put into making such large volume so useful, as EB was for over 200 years.
Encyclopaedia Britannica will stop publishing print editions and go digital-only – a huge step for the encyclopedia which has been in print since 1768. The sales of Britannica print editions has been on the decline since 1990, when 120,000 32-volume sets were sold.