So Mark Boulton decided to release his book, A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web, online and without cost. It’s not the only web design book available for free on the web, which this list and a previous encounter with two other online books prove, but all of them make me wonder, again, about the electronic book format.
In the examples above, said “books” don’t adapt official e-book formats, but stick with plain old semantic HTML and PDFs. Joe Clark, in an A List Apart article, explains that both standard and proprietary e-book formats are just more specialized versions of HTML/XHTML, so is there anything gravely wrong with creating webpages instead of actual e-book files?
As one who knows her way around HTML, taking an extra step into e-books (e.g. ePub) feels clunky and unnecessary. However, that is hasty judgment without first considering factors like audience. For web design books, perhaps it makes more sense to not bother with anything else and keep them as webpages because web designers work on sites all day long. That’s not to say they wouldn’t enjoy reading web design books in their e-book readers, but they may mind less having a book in one tab alongside other web design resources in other tabs.
Using proper formats also seems like a natural extension of web standards philosophy. If one were to publish a book online, why not go for the suitable format? There are scripts, extensions, and converters available. And with the ePub Zen Garden following in the steps of the CSS one, it may become the next worthy cause to root for.