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Embracing Publishing’s Many Faces

We all know that publishing is in a constant state of flux. Technology is changing the entire publishing process, and every publisher, big and small, is being affected by those changes. Embracing change can be difficult, but it helps to have experts on your side who can answer the tough questions, offer actionable advice, and provide valuable insights into what might be coming next.

Announcing Firebrand’s
Content Consulting On Demand

Whether you need help with production workflows, asset management, content organization, or eBook quality assurance, Firebrand’s content expert, Joshua Tallent, can help! Secure a minimum of four hours of Joshua’s time in advance. Then, anytime your team has a question or needs assistance they can contact Joshua directly and get a speedy, personal response.

Who is Joshua Tallent Anyway?

Joshua is an expert at helping publishers engage new technologies in creative ways, while finding efficiencies and expanding into new markets. He is a veteran eBook developer and content manager, and a well-known teacher on digital production and best practices. Joshua serves on numerous industry committees and working groups, and is committed to helping advance the quality and functionality of content throughout the publishing community.

How Can Joshua Help?

Use your Content Consulting On Demand on a wide variety of questions, issues, and assistance, such as:

All Things eBook:

  • Quick questions about new technologies, vendors, services, and processes you encounter in your research, or about EPUB 3, Kindle formatting, and anything else related to eBook production.
  • Longer discussions on eBook development, production workflows and tools, DRM, quality testing, accessibility, and more.
  • In-depth assessments of problematic EPUB files, or targeted assessments of specific issues that you can’t resolve (FlightDeck reports included!).
  • Quality assurance testing for your most important frontlist titles (FlightDeck reports included!).
  • Revisions and repairs for any eBook file, regardless of how it was created.
  • eBook Template and stylesheet development and assistance.

Content Management and Workflows:

  • Questions during the acquisitions and editorial processes, helping you decide how to handle all of the digital aspects of a title.
  • Advice on asset management, metadata control, and content distribution.
  • Assessments of current production workflows and advice on adopting new workflows with InDesign, XML, and more.
  • Hands-on workflow or eBook creation training for individuals or teams.

Special Offers

  • Sign up for at least 10 hours of retainer consulting before April 1st and get 10% off!
  • Current Firebrand Clients receive 10% off standard consulting rates.

If you have questions or would like to sign up, please contact Joshua.


Is it a good idea to put my Table of contents at the end of my eBook?

Some people do this to increase the size of the free samples automatically generated by the eBook retailers. However, the Kindle and other devices will re-set the “last read location” to the end of the book if you have your Table of Contents there, so we normally recommend against that practice.

What is the difference between HTML5 and XHTML5?

HTML5 is the latest version of the HTML standard used on the Web and in eBooks. XHTML5 is a stricter and cleaner version of HTML5, with rules from XML imposed on the code. For example, when a tag is opened it has to be closed, and all of the tags have to be properly nested. XHTML5 allows the code to be more easily interpreted by the display engine, and it keeps the code more consistent and easier to edit.

I have heard you can’t use color in eBooks. Is that correct?

No, that is absolutely incorrect. eBooks look great with color, and we highly recommend using color images and even colored text (within reason) in your eBook files. Some devices have grayscale eInk screens, so the color will not show up on those devices. However, the color will be in the file, and it will work on all of the color devices. We do recommend you test colored text on a device with an eInk screen and ensure that the text will not be too light to read.

Do you need to have a separate ISBN for each version of the eBook for different companies?

Technically, yes. See an extended answer on our ISBNs page.

What is KindleGen?

KindleGen is Amazon’s eBook creation/compiling program. It is used on the KDP website to auto-convert files uploaded into the Kindle store, and it is also integrated into the Kindle Previewer program to handle the conversion of non-Kindle files loaded in that program. You can download KindleGen and get access to other Kindle creation information at

What is a fixed layout eBook?

Fixed Layout eBooks are HTML-based eBook files that are usually designed to match the layout of a print book. The key difference between fixed layout files and reflowable files is that reflowable eBooks allow the reader to have more control over the reading experience, such as changing the font size, background color, etc. For more information, please see our Fixed Layout Children’s and Non-Fiction pages.

Does Amazon sell HTML files or only Kindle?

Amazon only sells eBooks in the Kindle format, but that format, just like ePub, is built using HTML and CSS files.

How is fixed layout different from a pdf of the book?

Fixed layout eBooks are built using HTML, so they have more functionality than PDF files. For example, the narration overlay functionality used in many children’s eBooks is not possible in PDF files. In addition, none of the eBook retailers sell PDFs, so fixed layout eBook files offer the best sales opportunities.

A university librarian told me they are not acquiring any Kindle books but only HTML5/ePub. Have you found that to be common with other libraries? I know our local public library does buy Kindle books.

Libraries acquire their eBooks from services like 3M and Overdrive. These services sometimes offer an option for Kindle checkouts, but typically they are limited to ePub files because of the more common use of the Adobe DRM.

Has the Kindle format gotten any more sophisticated in how it handles tables or floating images?

Yes, Amazon’s Kindle Format 8 has support for many great design features, including floating images, tables, color text, embedded fonts, and more.

How are page numbers handled in an eBook?

Print book page numbers are included in the HTML code of both the Kindle and ePub formats as anchors. They are also listed in the PageList section of the NCX or Navigation file. The PageList is used by some reading systems (like the Kindle and iBooks) to show the reader the print page numbers of the book as they read.

How are page headers created in eBook files?

The different reading systems control what shows up in the header of your eBook. Most will display the title of the book, and some will also display the author name. That text cannot currently be set to display the chapter name or other information about where the reader is currently reading in the text.

How do eBooks handle hyphenation of long words?

Some eBook reading systems will apply hyphenation to longer words to make the text better fit on the screen. This is typically controlled by the reading system, and will change depending on the font size and other settings the reader has set on their device.

What about protecting the file?

eBook file protection is called Digital Rights Management (DRM). Please see our DRM page for information on how it works and suggestions on how to use it.

Can I sell my eBooks on my own website?

Yes! You are certainly able to sell your eBooks on your own website. For more information, please see this page.