Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The QED seal of approval for ebooks

This strikes me as a step forward. Publishing Innovation Awards has announced the QED seal, a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval™ for ebooks," which

signals to an ebook reader that the title will render well in whatever their preferred reading format and that they can buy with confidence. It is an emblem that publishers, authors, and content creators can affix to their ebook cover and metadata that assures readers they can read that title where they want, how they want.

QED stands for Quality, Excellence, Design.


1. Front matter: the title does not open on a blank page.
2. Information hierarchy: content is arranged in such a way that the relative importance of the content (heads, text, sidebars, etc) are visually presented clearly.
3. Order of content: check of the content to be sure that none of it is missing or rearranged.
4. Consistency of font treatment: consistent application of styles and white space.
5. Links: hyperlinks to the web, cross references to other sections in the book, and the table of contents all work and point to the right areas. If the title has an index, it should be linked.
6. Cover: The cover does not refer to any print edition only related content.
7. Consumable Content: The title does not contain any fill-in content, such as workbooks and puzzle books, unless the content has been re-crafted to direct the reader on how to approach using the fill-in content.
8. Print References: Content does not contain cross references to un-hyperlinked, static print page numbers (unless the ebook is intentionally mimicking its print counterpart for reference).
9. Breaks: New sections break and/or start at logical places.
10. Images: Art is appropriately sized, is in color where appropriate, loads relatively quickly, and if it contains text is legible. If images are removed for rights reasons, that portion is disclaimed or all references to that image are removed.
11. Tables: Table text fits the screen comfortably, and if rendered as art is legible.
12. Symbols: Text does not contain odd characters.
13. Metadata: Basic metadata for the title (author, title, etc.) is in place and accurate.

I would like publishers to apply these criteria with particular vigilance to sample chapters. I get so very tired of getting a sample 'chapter' and finding it full of rubbish: empty space, broken links, and publishing and legal jibberjabber--and, if I'm lucky, 200 words of the actual narrative. On two particularly trying occasions, I didn't get anything beyond the Author Acknowledgements. I didn't buy the books.

Publishers, pay attention. When I download a sample of a novel, I'd like two whole chapters. If I download a sample of a short story collection, I'd like an entire story. And, really, would it be so hard to include a link to a book's reviews and/or author website? This technology is an absolute gift for both publisher and reader, the biggest leap in terms of the opportunity to get books to readers since Gutenberg. Use it. Please.

This blog has moved. My blog now lives here: