Fixed Layout eBook Format

What is a fixed layout?

Fixed layout means that the content is fixed in the “page” of the reading application (e reader or a reading app). Fixed can mean specific to an area on a single page, either side of the layout (left or right), or even fixed in terms of screen resolution.

Fixed layouts work best for books in which the layout adds value to the content that would otherwise be lost in a dynamic/ reflowable format.

Well suited examples for fixed layouts are –

  • Children’s books
  • Graphic novels
  • Manga
  • Coffee table books
  • Scientific, technical, and medical textbooks
  • Complex table-based math content

Fixed layouts are not suited for all reading devices. Smaller screens are too small for readers to comprehend the full context and value of fixed layout. In other words, you will not be able to tell a fixed layout from a reflowable epub if you are looking at it on a phone or on screen sizes smaller than the original document itself.

There are four major fixed layouts in the market currently – Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, although these major vendors do not all follow the same format. In response to this device and format wars, the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) released the EPUB 3 Fixed layout specification on March 13, 2012.

Every other vendor save for Amazon, based their fixed layouts on XHTML. There are similarities between all the fixed layouts although the standardization process is still not clear because EPUB 3 specs contain HTML 5 and CSS 3. This mark-up language will not be stable till 2014, so you get the idea.

Visit us next week for an inside take on Apple’s Fixed layout format and its supported features.

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