In our information age, access is everything, and because digital technology makes it possible to share content in multiple formats, from text to audio to video and images, what once were obstacles to accessibility are now opportunities.
As founder of Bookalope, Jens Tröger has applied his background in computer science research and commercial software development to create professional tools for ebook designers. The trick to making ebooks accessible and even beautiful, says Tröger, is to think of them as software.
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“In the software world, whenever we build software, that software runs in versions. I build a product. It becomes available. And then I continue to build the product. So software has a very, very old and very well thought through lifetime of versioning and improving software,” he explains.
“I look at ebooks in a very similar way. Books traditionally can have typos. Books have revisions. So I can look at a typo in an ebook as a bug. I can report the bug. I can fix the bug and ship a new version of the ebook. The author might want to make a change, and in traditional print publishing, that’s not an easy thing to do. There’s a next iteration of a book that’s being published five years later. [For e-books], these cycles can be much tighter,” Tröger tells me.
“It would require infrastructure support by the publisher sand by distribution platforms, but there’s also interesting avenues like in open-source software, where people can file bugs. I read a book. I come across an issue. I could just tap on it and give feedback to the publisher and say, ‘Oh, here’s a typo.’
“So there’s a much tighter integration between the ebook and the reader itself and the publisher that opens up to us.”
“Accessibility in ebooks isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s essential to ensure that your books can be enjoyed by all your readers, whether they’re on a mobile, desktop or other device or app,” according to The ultimate guide to ebook accessibility from BookMachine
“If you’re planning to create an ebook or if you’ve already converted your print book into an ebook, you will want to make sure it is accessible to as many people as possible,” writes Oluwatoyin Jegede.