LANGUAGE GYMNASTICS by Stewart Lee Beck and Katie Lu

CHINA SIMPLIFIED: LANGUAGE GYMNASTICS, by Stewart Lee Beck and Katie LuAmbitious projects pull the design staff out of its collective comfort zone, so we dug right in with the first book in the CHINA SIMPLIFIED series, LANGUAGE GYMNASTICS by Stewart Lee Beck and Katie Lu. It was a not-so-simple thing to bring this to Kindle and ePub formats.

Because ereading systems may have limited support for non-Western character sets, there was initial concern—from both Stewart and our team—about whether the ebooks would display both Chinese and pīn yīn characters. We considered the using images for the Chinese, but were reluctant to head down that route unless it was absolutely necessary.

Numerous on-device tests during the pre-production phase proved encouraging and gave all of us the confidence we needed to move forward with native text throughout the ebooks. Kindle’s KF8 format has relatively robust support for Chinese and pīn yīn, but we were not so lucky with ereading systems that play ePub ebooks (looking at you Nook and Kobo). To ensure a consistent reading experience across all platforms, we embedded fonts in the ePub.

To compliment the text—which is truly an engaging, humorous and entertaining read—Stewart and his team developed top-quality graphics and charts as learning tools to aid readers as they pore over the book. It was important, then, for us to present those images with as much quality as possible without over-bloating the file sizes of the ebooks.

The black-and-white color scheme allowed us to save the images and charts as GIFs—so to strip out color that gets added in JPEGs—to keep their dimensions on the large side and their file sizes on the small side. This gave us the flexibility to make the images scale according to various device and app screen sizes without pixelating on larger and higher resolution screens, such as the iPad and Kindle Fire HDX models.

Below are some screenshots of pages from the ebook taken on the Kindle Fire HDX (7-inch model). Click one to see a larger view.

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Genre: Non-fiction
Author: Stewart Lee Beck and Katie Lu
Deliverable: Kindle and ePub ebooks
Features: Embedded fonts, Poetry/hanging indents, Scalable images, and Tables