FAQ: Reflowable Layout vs. Fixed Layout EBooks

This month’s blog post is going to answer four frequently asked questions about eBook layouts. I am asked all four of these questions so often that it proves there’s some confusion in this area. I felt that a blog post would be the perfect way to address this confusion.

Question 1: What Does Reflowable Mean?

Reflowable eBooks are considered the norm in this business. This layout comprises most of the Kindle, iBook and Nook library. The reason for the term “reflowable” is that readers are able to resize the fonts to meet their personal preference. Since font size is one of the main factors in determining page layout, reflowable books reorganize themselves depending on the settings used by the reader. For example, if a reader sets a smaller font size, then the book would be able to fit more words onto each page.

Question 2: What is a Fixed Layout EBook?

Unlike reflowable eBooks, fixed layout identifies each page in an exact nature. In other words, the publisher designs the book in a way that restricts the reader from changing its layout. It becomes “fixed.” This layout is used in graphic novels where text must appear in an exact position. A fixed layout should only be used in books like graphics novels, comics and children’s books since these types of books require a perfect alignment of text to graphics.

Question 3: Why Use Fixed Layout?

The use of a fixed layout is reserved for image-heavy books that have to be designed in a specific way to be fully experienced. Using graphic novels as an example once more, dialogue must be shown visually coming from a character so a fixed layout would be necessary. With that in mind, many popular publishing platforms reserve fixed layouts for specific genres of books so be sure to check with them before deciding to choose this format.

Question 4: Which Layout Should I Use?

In most cases, you want to choose a reflowable layout for your book. Unless the book is design heavy, readers are going to get annoyed at books that are fixed. One of the big selling points of eReaders is that the reader is able to control their reading experience. Furthermore, fixed layout eBooks are only compatible with certain devices while reflowable layout books are compatible with all eReading devices.