3 Reasons Librarians Should Learn eBook Formatting

There are many librarians whose training didn’t include information about eBooks for the very good reason that they didn’t exist when the training took place. Professional development in eBook formatting can serve librarians in several different aspects of their work. Here’s how:

1. Increased acquisitions savvy. The more you know about what is and can be inside an eBook, the quality hallmarks, and the typical errors in eBook publishing, the better able you will be to compare and evaluate digital publications and various editions of the same work to create the best possible digital collection.

2. Targeted recommendations. Just as with print editions, knowing the details about digital books can help you make savvy recommendations to library patrons with a variety of interests and needs.

3. Collection expansion. With budget limitations facing just about everyone, librarians who can format eBooks can replace or expand their collection of public domain works by creating their own editions. With this capability, libraries can have targeted editions to serve their particular population(s), using some of the same techniques an educator might use to differentiate instruction.

Here are some of the kinds of features you can use to create an enhanced edition beyond the basic text when you know basic eBook Formatting techniques:

  • background information,
  • chapter summaries,
  • charts,
  • extension questions,
  • guided reading apparatus
  • highlighting or colored text to signal structure or important points,
  • illustrations,
  • linked glossaries,
  • links to websites,
  • tables, and
  • targeted word definitions.

I teach Introduction to eBook Formatting at the University of Vermont and the University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies.  For more information about my next Introduction to eBook Formatting course, offered March 14–16, 2013 at the University of Chicago Graham School at the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago, see here.

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