Saturday, December 1, 2012

Image problems with self-published books on the Nook HD

This week I was able to try out the Nook HD for the first time. It's a sharp little e-reader that I would buy in a second if I had the extra cash. It's lighter than the iPad, has a nice form factor, has a far superior UX to the Kindle, and handles video and even gaming graphics quite well. When you open an ebook on the Nook HD, the pages look crisp and have a nice off-white background. But I observed a problem with the way the Nook HD renders images on self-published books.

I observed the problem in one of my own books, a basic Excel manual that I published earlier this year. The images, which were intended to have full-screen widths, were reduced to about 50% of the page width. This made details impossible to read. Of course, it's possible to "blow up" the image by tapping on them, but that ruins the reading flow and also takes time (there are about 100 screenshots in this guide).

I don't have Nook HD screenshots to share, but I'll try to illustrate the problem with some facts and a sample image from the book that was made unreadable. The Nook HD has 1440 x 900 pixel resolution with 243 pixels per inch. This means an image that's half the width of the screen (450px) will be 1.85 inches wide. Here's what a 1.85 inch wide image from my book looks like in a browser (96 ppi):

Nook HD image problem

Do you see the problem?

The file format used by the Nook is an ebook publishing standard known as ePub. Apple's iOS devices use the same ePub files as the Nook. When I was working on Excel Basics In 30 Minutes, I tested the ePub file extensively in the e-reader that I own (an iPad2) as well as in the Nook simulator provided by Barnes & Noble's Pubit service. It looked great in the iPad. On the Nook HD simulator, the images were actually too large for the screen -- Pubit actually warns authors that images may appear strange. I assumed that they would be resized to fit the Book HD screen. Little did I know that they would be reduced to the point of being unreadable.

Any other authors experiencing this problem with their Nook titles?

1 comment:

  1. I am the Original Computer Dummy and wouldn't know Wi-Fi from hi-fi. I also resisted getting an e-reader for years. I like to turn pages when I read. However, I played around with this e-reader at the Barnes & Noble counter and was instantaneously and totally hooked. It is an absolute pleasure to use. The images on the screen are clear and crisp and the adjustable font makes it easy on anyone's eyes. The color is glorious. I liked the social connect to Facebook and found web surfing no problem at all. The one drawback is that the Nook Color doesn't come with 3-G yet so if you're not at a Wi-Fi hotspot surfing will have to wait until you find one.



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