Now available: Design for Impact by Erin Weigel

Digital editions: some input please?

07/11/2008

An interesting suggestion came up yesterday in our Satisfaction customer service forum. Aileenf suggested selling digital editions of our books that are designed to be printed.

So far we’ve designed and tested our digital editions with the goal of supporting on-screen use. That means a large typeface for readability, no need to scroll within pages, and a bunch more screen-friendly features. Not surprisingly, it also means very long page counts. And though we’ve tried to make our digital design printer-friendly by removing toner-thirsty colored backgrounds, it’s still no fun to print 400+ pages.

So, we could expand our offerings to include digital editions optimized for laser printing. This would certainly help our overseas customers who are concerned about shipping costs. But many questions remain:

  • Would we cannibalize our paperback sales? (We’ve already spent lots of money printing thousands of copies of our beautiful four-color interior nicely-bound paperbacks.)
  • How many pages to print is too many? Our two paperbacks run between 250-300 pages; is that so much better than printing 400 pages?
  • Would it make sense to offer a printable PDF only in combination with an on-screen PDF? While offering options is a good idea, three or four variations of a product, as well as combinations, can quickly become overwhelming to customers (and difficult to develop from an interaction design perspective).

Those are a few of the questions we’ll be mulling over; any feedback, suggestions or (egads) even more questions would be greatly appreciated.