Editing an E-book

I know how to edit print. Been doing it all my life. But what are the differences when editing digital content? That’s something I’ve been giving thought to.

Fans of The Shallows know that while e-text has many advantages, it can also cause problems. One small study seems to confirm that. Thirty-two pairs of children and parents were studied while co-reading print books, e-books and enhanced (multimedia, interactive) e-books.In short, readers showed greater comprehension and engagement when reading print or e-books than with enhanced e-books. The extra features of the enhanced e-books distracted both adults and children from the actual story.

The lessons to be learned for children’s books? If literacy is your goal, stay away from enhanced e-books. But if your goal is to build appeal for books where that is low, then enhanced e-books may be a good place to start.

For adult reading I suspect similar lessons apply. Enhancements will tend to detract from comprehension and engagement. Only add a bell or whistle if it provides essential content or perspective that cannot be added with text. “Cool” is a very bad reason to include enhanced features.

What suggestions do you have for editing e-books?

For now, when editing e-books, it appears that less is more.

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.

3 thoughts on “Editing an E-book”

  1. This study validates what is intuitively sensible. Such frills are distracting. You make a keen point about their utility, however, “if your goal is to build appeal for books where that is low.”

  2. I am a big fan of these comments!!!!
    Thanks for taking the time to set off your Roman Candles of insight!
    I always learn something worthwhile from your stuff!!!
    FYI- I just finished reading Gershom Gorenberg’s The Unmaking of Israel. I would suggest this for anyone interested in the ethics, history and theology of those settling beyond the Green Line.
    It is a story we do not often hear!
    Thanks Andy for taking the time to keep us informed, entertained and encouraged in our Christian faith journey!
    YOu are an ACE!!!!

  3. Good to hear from you, Lou. You are the quintessential blog commenter.


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