Strategy Resources Structure Style Layout Composition Production Infrastructure


E-Book Formats Explained Image Formats Explained Advanced Styling & Layout Better Photography Working with SVG Unicode and All That Troubleshooting


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The previous chapter examines the strategic choices open to you when producing and publishing an e-book. It shows that there are various paths to generating an e-book deliverable, and identifies the optimum path that minimises problems. Assuming that you follow that path, you will need certain resources to accomplish the steps it comprises, and those resources are the subject of this chapter.

Note that this chapter comprises two broad sections: coverage of those resources that are mandatory, and coverage of those that are optional, depending on your needs, and on how thorough you intend to be.

Text Editor

As the previous chapter shows, adding HTML and CSS instructions to your content requires some form of text editor, and while it is obviously true that word processors, at their heart, are such tools, those applications ensconce that functionality within a wider feature-set. This obstructs rather than facilitates e-book production.

For example, a word processor treats a document file as having a finite horizontal width, such that lines of text will wrap around if their length exceeds that limit. This is just what we want when writing a book (in the sense of semantic construction), but it is a certified liability when editing HTML and CSS, as horizontal layout is a critical factor in terms of readability. Conversely, a proper text editor treats a file as having essentially no horizontal limit, thus allowing a given line of text to be as long as you need.

Word processors also lack a range of features that dedicated code-editors offer wholesale. One of these is syntax colouration, where the tool displays HTML and CSS keywords, among other things, in a different colour to the content. This assists readability and thus comprehension greatly, which in turn aids problem resolution.

Another feature missing in word processors, but which is invaluable when working with blocks of text, is the ability to perform ‘columnar selection’. All text editors, including word processors, allow you to select text by means of a click-drag operation with your mouse (or by using the shift-arrow-key method on your keyboard), and this usually yields ‘stream selection’. That is, the highlighting that the editor employs to indicate the selected text snakes from its starting point to the right and down to the end of that text.

Consider the following example (See Terminology section in the introduction if you are unfamiliar with the Latin words):

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing
elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore
et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam,
quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut
aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure
dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse
cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur
sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in
culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est

However, some text editors support columnar selection, which allows you to mark, and thus cut, copy, paste and indent text as rectilinear blocks, which preserves readability, and aids the laying-out of code immensely. That enables you to work with it in a far more efficient manner, and the next example illustrates the essential idea:

   Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur

   Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud

   Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit
   in voluptate.

Professional text editors also provide features such as a ‘macro’ facility, which is the ability to record arbitrary keystroke sequences, and then play them back multiple times with a single key-press. They also provide exceptional search and replace functionality, and a range of other very useful features, and these points make a clear case for avoiding a word processor when adding HTML/CSS instructions to your content prior to binding it into an EPUB file.

Many powerful editors are available, freely so in many cases, but you could consider investing only a little money in a professional programmer's editor – an entirely reasonable cost, given the benefits. Given this and all the other points above, the search-terms suggestion is:

programmer's editor columnar selection

EPUB Editor

As the previous chapter points out, the creation of an EPUB file is one of the final stages in the e-book production and publishing process. You can upload this file to retailers that sell non-Kindle e-books, you can even sell​it on a web site of your own, as the previous chapter points out, but you also need an EPUB to be able to create a Mobi/KF8 file, which is what you upload to Amazon.

It follows that a tool that will create EPUB files is mandatory, and the previous chapter stipulates Calibre and Sigil as two prominent applications, both of which are available for free. In this light, the search-terms suggestion that will enable you to acquire a copy of Sigil is:

epub sigil download

…while the equivalent for Calibre is, unsurprisingly:

epub calibre download

Mobi/KF8 Generator

The third mandatory resource is a tool that converts an EPUB file into a Mobi/KF8 file. Two suitable resources here are Calibre and Amazon's Kindle Previewer, which, like Calibre, is available for free.

The previous section gives the search-terms suggestion for Calibre, and so the suggestion for Amazon's resource are:

amazon kindle previewer

Note that you could use KindleGen to generate your Mobi/KF8, which Amazon also supplies for free, but it requires technical skills and understanding, and challenges even an experienced programmer. However, Kindle Previewer (covered below) incorporates KindleGen, such that dragging and dropping an EPUB file on to Previewer will cause it to run KindleGen automatically, thus saving a lot of unnecessary complication.

E-Reader Emulators

In addition to the resources enumerated above, you will also need applications that will emulate a hardware e-reader. That is, programs that act as a software implementation of a physical e-reader, thus allowing you to test your book on your computer's screen during the development and refinement process.

You might argue that, if equipped with a physical Kindle device and a physical EPUB reader (an issue considered below), software implementations of each would be redundant. This is not true, however, as, having created an EPUB or Mobi/KF8, it is far easier to view it immediately on the machine you are using to produce the book, rather than having to plug a device into your machine after which you copy across the file in question. This entails unreasonable time and tedium when you are caught up in the production cycle of viewing the book, making changes, recreating the book file, and then reviewing it again, and so on. You may have to go through many iterations of this cycle during production, at which point the convenience of an emulator comes to the fore.

Thankfully, Calibre comes equipped with its own internal EPUB and Mobi/KF8 viewers. Moreover, Kindle Previewer, while it incorporates the KindleGen book compiler, as pointed out above, is also an emulator for Kindle devices, as its name suggests. You can make it emulate different versions of the Kindle, and, currently, it will even emulate a Kindle e-reader application running on an iPhone.

Note too that Kindle Previewer is for e-book developers, not consumers, and so you should not confuse it with the e-reading applications that are available for smart-phones/tablets, nor the Kindle for PCs application, which performs the same role as smart-phone/tablet applications, but which you run on a personal computer.

However, given that Kindle for PCs is also available for free, you should acquire and install a copy of that too, as it is best to adopt a scorched-earth policy when performing final testing of your book prior to publication. The greater the number of e-readers, software-or hardware-based, on which your book renders correctly, the greater confidence you can have that it will work on all possible e-readers, and the more therefore you will satisfy​Rule Two, Produce Professionally.

Do note, however, that it appears that none of the emulators/e-reading-applications are defect-free. Currently, the KF8 reader that is part of Calibre v2.41 does not support, for example, background images​for content elements.

Physical E-Reader(s)

To invert the argument that begins the previous section: if you do not possess a physical e-reading device, you might think it sufficient to test your book on software emulators alone. This is not the case, however, as you cannot deem emulators and physical devices to be flawless, as pointed out above. They incorporate complex software, which may always possess just one more defect, irrespective of the number of updates they have received. Indeed, this guide documents a number of defects in Kindles, and ways of avoiding or working around them. This means that there may be differences between the software implementation of, say, an e-ink Kindle and the equivalent emulator within, for example, Kindle Previewer, as indeed is the case.

Another significant factor is the difference in display technologies. Currently, general-purpose computers use luminescent display devices exclusively, whereas a sizable proportion of e-readers use e-ink technology, which is reflective. That is, e-ink requires ambient light to render the contents of the screen visible, and this difference has a perceptible effect on the way in which content appears on screen – when viewing your e-book on a luminescent display, it will not appear to you in exactly the same way as it does when you view it on an e-ink device.

Photographs rather than text are the issue here, in that a given image may look entirely acceptable on a luminescent display, but may have too little contrast when viewed in e-ink (a problem that you can address using a raster image editor – see below). Given this, and if your content includes graphics other than the cover, there is no real substitute for testing your e-book on different display technologies. That is, you do need to put yourself in the position of a real customer who is consuming your book, hoping for a thumping-good read and thus value for money. At least one e-ink e-reading device is therefore mandatory, and while these things are relatively costly when new, a clear and inexpensive alternative is to buy one second-hand.

You may also need to consider compatibility issues. While, from time to time, Amazon updates the software on peoples' devices remotely, the upgrades do not extend uniformly to all Kindles ever produced, as the early units are unable to support some of the more advanced features for which the KF8​and newer KFX​formats provide. This may be of no issue if you are using only minimal styling, or even no styling at all, with nothing fancy such as, for example, rounded corners on tables. You should be able to get by in this case with just one modern device, but you should consider acquiring an earlier-model Kindle too if you desire a stronger guarantee of compatibility across all Amazon devices, where second-hand units should be inexpensive, as they are now an ageing technology.

Note, however, that a strong argument exists here for pursuing compatibility only with the more modern e-readers, especially if you are producing technical content like this, which carries tables, diagrams, code listings and the like. Indeed, Appendix A, E-Book Formats Explained, points out​that, these days, you can forget essentially about the outdated Mobi format. This may mean that people with older devices lose out when some aspect of your e-book renders incorrectly for them (or not at all), but you must bear in mind that the number of older devices in active use is declining as you read this very sentence. It follows that the proportion they constitute of the user base will shrink to statistical insignificance over time.

With this in mind, and if you wish to use more sophisticated styling in your e-book, you are better off ignoring the issue of older devices, as this will absolve you of the need to test on examples of that older hardware.

You also need to consider whether to make your book available for non-Kindle devices, i.e. those that read EPUB files, such as the Nook and Kobo. If you do, the same arguments given above apply, in that you should test on as many e-readers as possible, hardware and software, in order to ensure product quality across a broad range of user agents.


Whatever you may think, it is difficult to proofread your own material effectively, although this carries a proviso, in that it is possible to put the content in a metaphorical drawer and forget about it for several months. This gives your mind a holiday from the wretched thing, and so, on returning to it, refreshed and re-sharpened, you find a manifest host of tiny flaws.

However, most of us do not have the freedom or patience to step away from these projects for protracted periods. For example, doing so might risk seeing the gap in your market close because someone else got there first. Alternatively, you may be timing the publication of your book to coincide with some event (the anniversary of the First World War, for example); and finances dictate the schedule for many of us.

For these reasons, finding someone else to proofread your material in order to trap defects is of critical importance. Moreover, you also need someone, perhaps your proofreader, to act as a test reader too, to ensure that the book fulfills its remit. Such people can bring not only a fresh eye to proceedings but an independent point of view too that can throw valuable light on how the market is likely to receive the work. Others can spot not only typographical, spelling and grammatical defects that you and your tools have missed (spelling/grammer checkers are not infalliible), but can identify stylistic and semantic weaknesses too, and no amount of automation will ever be capable of that. For these reasons, you can consider proof-/test-readers to be another mandatory resource.

Choice of proof-/test-reader is clearly important, as you need someone on whom you can rely to take matters seriously; and technical books pose a stiffer challenge here, as you need someone else who has an adequate grasp of the field to which you are contributing. Satisfying that requirement can come down to sheer luck, but even if your material is familiar to the person in the street, you still need someone with whom you can work.

Do not underestimate the importance of proofreading, as the ‘holiday effect’ explored above will always kick-in post-publication, whether you like it or not. That is, you may turn to some other project subsequently, like another book, and pick up the previous work only some months later. At that point, and with the benefit of a proper break from the material, it is highly likely that you will see potential for improvement; a better phrasing here, greater clarity there; and what about that truly embarrassing typo in the third paragraph of the introduction, of all things..? No wonder nobody is buying it, the punters think you cannot write.

Idiots ignore the need for proper proof- and test-reading, so do take this issue seriously, lest the last laugh go to happenstance.

Validators & Debuggers

The term ‘validation’ refers to passing the HTML/CSS version of your book's content through a special software tool that scrutinises the code, and which alerts you to any problems it discovers. This is an essential step in the production process, as invalid HTML (code that does not stick to the rules) may misinform the user agent over the content's structure. It may cause your CSS instructions to fail in turn; and CSS instructions that are themselves invalid will always fail outright. Moreover, many of the e-book retailers, as part of their quality-control policy, reject EPUB files containing invalid HTML/CSS.

It is true that tools such as Sigil and Calibre possess internal validators, which you should invoke as one of the final steps prior to publishing a work. However, assuming you take the advice given in the first chapter, and adopt a​three-stage process in transforming your content into an EPUB, it is a far better idea to validate your code during Stage Two, when you are developing your content's styling and layout in a web browser.

Do not see validation as an end-stage process – it should be a natural, frequent and regular feature of the development cycle, as routine as brushing your teeth before turning in for the night. This is because invalid HTML may cause your CSS code to operate incorrectly, but without knowing this, you could attempt to fix the CSS, when you should be fixing the HTML. This will only waste your time.

HTML validators come in two forms. To use an online validator, you visit a web site to which you submit your files, which the service examines before returning a report. The second variety, which is preferable as it is simpler and quicker, is to use a validator directly within your browser. The tool you use depends on the browser in question, as these things are ‘plug-ins’ – extraneous programs developed by third parties, which you download and install within the browser. Each browser has a proprietary way of finding, selecting and installing such plug-ins (so no search-terms suggestion here), and so you will have to acquire a validator for the browser you use by exploring that browser's menus etc.

Note that the validation process includes checking that all the links in a work connect to a real target. That is, you may insert a link into the HTML that you generate, but may stipulate inadvertently an incorrect target for that link. Alternatively, you might stipulate a correct target, but then remove that target subsequently from the book, without realising that doing so has left (a) link(s) elsewhere that now point(s) to a non-existent location.

Note too that link validation differs from link verification, which entails checking that each link in a book points to the correct target. This process is not amenable to automation, and so is something that only you can carry out manually on a link-by-link basis as part of your final validation and verification steps.

The internal validators that Sigil and Calibre do include link validity checks as part of the ‘well-formedness’ tests they perform on an EPUB, which makes them suitable for end-stage link validation. This is because the only links in the majority of e-books are those that comprise the table of contents, and so a broken link is always easy to fix. However, a wealth of links and targets distributed throughout your content (as in this guide) can make validity problems harder to remedy. It is advisable therefore to validate your links prior to final compilation of the EPUB, as a dedicated link-checker will provide a greater amount of diagnostic information than Sigil's/Calibre's internal validators.

If these points apply to you, the following search-terms suggestion should enable you to locate a suitable resource:

html link checker

Note also that you may be able to find a link-checker plug-in for your browser, as with HTML/CSS validation plug-ins. In this case, you will have to hunt around within your browser's user interface, as pointed out above.

HTML/CSS debuggers – tools that allow you to detect and diagnose styling and layout problems within a browser – are a much simpler matter, as each of the main browsers comes with a debugging facility that forms an integral part of its implementation. There is nothing to download, and you need only press F12 to access the functionality (Ctrl-Shift-I on Opera on Windows).

The sections above consider those resources that are mandatory in e-book production. The remaining sections in this chapter consider those that are optional.

Image Source(s)

You may plan to create your own cover artwork, with the intention that it incorporate one or more photographic elements; moreover, your book may employ one or more internal photographs. In either case, you will need to acquire the relevant resources in some way. It may be that the photographic material you intend to use comprises only images of documents, sketches or other existing artwork, including photos from the pre-digital era of film and glass plates. If so, acquiring the images you need is a simple matter of scanning them using a suitable device.

However, if such content is not to hand then you can acquire photographs from a stock photo library. These are large repositories of high-quality images, the content of which is available online, and where browsing and acquiring the content they offer is a simple process. Some offer photographs freely, and require only that you credit the photographer, whereas others require you to purchase a license to use the material, but do not let this deter you. For electronic use only (i.e. phone applications, web sites and e-books) the fees are very reasonable, costing a lot more only when you wish to use an image in print. Thankfully, that does not include us, given that, as e-publishers, we eschew print.

If you wish to research stock-photo libraries, the search-terms suggestion is simply:

stock photo library

If, however, the images you need are not to hand, and you cannot find suitable material in the stock libraries, you will need some bespoke photography. Clearly, there are three options here: you can pay a photographer to do the work; you can ask an associate to do it for you, or you can do it yourself. The first depends on your funds, the second depends on the availability of a skilled friend, and the third depends on how good you are at photography.

If you opt for doing the photography yourself, but have little understanding and experience of capturing production-quality images, Appendix D​and Chapter Six,​Better Photography and Composition respectively, are there to assist you.

Graphics Editors

If you acquire the imagery for your book, including the cover, in its final pre-publication state from (an) external source(s), then the question of editing graphics does not apply. This means in turn that possession of a graphical editor of some form is optional, which means in turn that you can skip this section if appropriate. However, if you intend to create your cover art and/or its internal imagery yourself, you will need a graphical editor of some form.

As you may be aware, or will be if you have read Appendix B,​Image Formats Explained, there are two types of image: raster and vector. It is advisable to use a vector editor to compose your cover art, because such a tool is better suited to compositing text with any other graphical elements, and so you will need to acquire and install a vector editor of some form. Moreover, if your book's cover and/or content draws on one or more raster images, where you intend to edit such imagery yourself, you will also need to acquire a raster editor too. This section considers both forms.

Screenshot of GIMP

A number of different vector editors are available such as Corel Draw and Visio; the most prominent commercial example being Illustrator, provided by Adobe, the company behind Photoshop. Having to pay for products such as Illustrator may place them beyond reach if you are producing an e-book on a shoestring, and so an excellent alternative that is available freely is Inkscape. Do note here that, despite the similarities between Inkscape and Illustrator, Inkscape is a distinct product in its own right, and is not a clone of the latter. It is a potent equivalent that provides many of the features you find in Adobe's product, and it is used professionally. Indeed, all the diagrams in this guide were generated using Inkscape (as was the cover for the e-book version of this site).

Vector and raster editors operate analogously, in that they display an image as a raster (or grid) of pixels, but the tools at your disposal in a vector editor do not ‘paint’ on that image. Instead, they allow you to insert and edit new ‘nodes’ and ‘paths’, and automate the production of common shapes such as circles, ellipses, squares, triangles and other polygons. They also provide an extensive range of colour and shading options, and arbitrary curves and shapes are entirely possible. For example, the feather element in the cover for the e-book version of this guide was generated in just such a fashion.

Turning to consider raster editors: these are applications that, self-evidently, allow you to create and edit raster images, and which provide a collection of tools that allow you to crop and transform images (i.e. scale, rotate, distort etc.). They also allow you to select, copy/cut and paste portions of images, and to ‘paint’ with ‘brushes’ that you select from a palette, and which, despite the name, operate like pens, pencils and aerosol sprays and brushes too.

The more powerful raster editors possess features such as a ‘clone’ tool, which allows you to select an area (of arbitrary size) of an image and to paint thereafter a copy of that patch repeatedly to other parts of the image. This allows you to remove blemishes and unwanted elements such as, say, a power cable that stretches inconveniently across a section of an otherwise beautiful landscape photo, or a less than desirable mole in portrait photography. Other powerful features include the ability to build images up from a set of layers – much like compositing an image using a physical stack of transparent acetate sheets – and which may contain elements from other images (vector editors also sport such a feature).

You can also adjust colour, brightness and contrast in a variety of sophisticated ways, which is one method by which you may rescue a sub-optimal image. Note here, however, that, as the chapter on photography points out, you cannot make a silk purse from a sow's ear, and so it is foolish to believe that you can render any image acceptable by means of an image editor. That is (and to echo the​theme in the final section of the previous chapter), you cannot have something for nothing, and so these tools are incapable of emplacing information that is absent from the original shot, unless you insert new elements explicitly.

Such editors also come equipped with a large range of ‘filters’ (as do vector editors) that allow you to apply visual effects. The image in the section below of a person using a graphics tablet is an example, which started life as an ordinary photograph, and was rendered ultimately with a ‘pencil sketch’ appearance by applying a few filtering techniques sequentially (the image of the staircase​in Chapter Six, Composition is another example of this effect). Raster editors can also save images in a variety of formats, including PNG or JPG, which are web-site staples, and Appendix D,​Image Formats Explained, covers the technicalities of such formats.

Numerous raster editors are available, an example being Windows Paint (known formerly as Paintbrush), which has been distributed with Microsoft's Windows product since the first version of that product. This will suffice if you need to do no more than crop an image to a particular size, although you should consider something more powerful, if only to give yourself a feel for what is possible with higher-end software.

At the other end of the spectrum, one of the most powerful raster editors is so prominent that its name has become a verb – ‘to photoshop’ an image – but is a commercial package currently, like Illustrator, meaning that you have to pay for it. If you do not have Photoshop to hand, and cannot afford to purchase a copy, an excellent alternative that is available for free is the GNU Image Manipulation Program or ‘GIMP’ (yes, a name with greater élan would have been welcome).

Screenshot of Inkscape

To understand the landscape here: GIMP is to Photoshop as Inkscape is to Illustrator, and like Inkscape, GIMP is not intended to be a clone of Photoshop. This means that it does not duplicate the user interface and feature set of that product, but it does constitute a powerful equivalent – professionals and amateurs use it alike. If you need a link to a site from which you can download GIMP, then the following search terms should help:

gimp editor download

Finally in this section, note that a tutorial on using editors such as Inkscape and GIMP is beyond the scope of this text, but user documentation, along with tutorials and useful articles pertaining to the use of these wonderful tools abound on the Web. Print guides and references are available too.

Graphics Tablet

If the photographic content for your book requires anything more than minimal re-touching and editing work then you will benefit from acquiring a graphics tablet. On hearing this term, some people think it means ‘tablet computer’, which it does not. It means a device that consists of a flat pad, and a stylus, which you use principally to provide input to software such as Photoshop and GIMP (although you can use it in a vector editor too).

A tablet is a powerful and welcome substitute for a mouse when manipulating images, as it allows you to make changes as if you were holding a pen or brush. You can even trace over a paper sketch, a photograph or some other form of paper-based medium, where you hold the paper in place on top of the tablet, which will still pick up the signals faithfully from the stylus. The earliest graphics tablet appeared in 1957, where a cable connected the stylus to the tablet, as current, primitive versions of the technology still do, but most modern tablets now use one of a variety of wireless technologies, which liberates the stylus.

At the high end of the available technologies, the most advanced (and most expensive) replace the pad with a screen on to which you draw directly, much as if you were using a tablet computer with a touch-screen. You may think therefore that there is no difference between such a graphics tablet and a touch-screen computer, but such an impression is incorrect, as graphics tablets offer a very fine level of precision that is impossible to achieve with even the most slender of fingers.

Moreover, any self-respecting graphics tablet is pressure sensitive, which tablet-computer displays are not, and software such as GIMP and Photoshop will recognise and respond to the pressure information sent by the stylus. This means that the stylus operates as if you are using a pencil, in that pressing harder yields a stronger effect. Moreover, some styli also generate tilt and rotation information.

It does take a day or two to get used to using one of these devices, as they are not a direct analogue of a mouse. This is because a mouse translates relative movement of the device into proportional movement of the cursor that you see on screen, whereas a tablet operates in an absolute sense. That is, moving the stylus to a given point on the tablet moves the on-screen cursor to a corresponding point on the screen – in more-technical terms: a graphics tablet ‘maps’ each point on the pad to a corresponding point on the display device. Once you have acquired the knack, however, it is entirely possible to fall in love with such a device, as it can be so easy and satisfying to use, so much so that you can find yourself contriving opportunities to use the thing.

You can purchase a perfectly acceptable, entry-level unit inexpensively, thus keeping costs down, and so, if you are interested in shopping around, the search-terms suggestion is simply:

graphics tablet

However, if you do not wish to invest in a full-blown tablet, but you have a touch-screen computer, you can buy a special stylus inexpensively, which will work with the touch screen in your machine.

Alternatively, the enterprising producer who is operating on the slimmest shoestring in history might consider constructing a stylus for a tablet computer using the shell of a ballpoint pen, some household wiring and a piece of bath sponge. Accuracy will be questionable at best, and you can forget about pressure, tilt and rotation sensitivity, but it is easy to do, and some search term suggestions for the curious (and desperately hard-up) are:

touch screen stylus construct


As the previous chapter​explains, CSS is the language with which you control the styling and layout of your book's content. This yields, among other things, the ability to use your choice of typeface for certain elements in a work. That is, you can ‘embed’ what is known as a ‘font file’ in your e-book, such that user agents render, say, chapter headings in some artistic fashion. This means that it is up to you to acquire the file that comprises a particular typeface, and a number of web sites provide a dizzying selection, many of which are free for use in e-books. Given this, and if circumstances force parsimony, suggested search terms are simply:

free fonts

Do note, however, that the free typefaces can be of inferior quality to the commercial offerings (uneven letter heights, for example, or inconsistent letter shapes). It follows that, if your budget will stretch a little further, you could consider purchasing your typefaces, and the search-terms suggestion here is:

commercial fonts

A final point in this section: do note that, when using a free typeface, it is only fair to credit the designer in your book – they work hard on their stuff, as we do on ours, and we pay them nothing for the resources they provide.


Clearly, if you do not acquire images for your book (for the cover or otherwise) from image libraries or from your own existing sources, and if you are doing everything yourself, you need to capture those images, and that requires access to a camera.

As Appendix D, Better Photography, points out,​quality of photographer trumps quality of camera every time, although there are absolute limits to that maxim, in that you do need quality output from the device(s) that you use. Thankfully, pocket digital cameras, and the cameras carried by many smart-phones are now of sufficient quality to do serious photography, and so you may well be able to get by with one of those. Do bear in mind, however, that despite their advanced features, they will never equal a digital, Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera, not least because you cannot use different lenses.

Again, the second-hand market comes to mind, for both cameras and lenses, and you should see Appendix D,​should you need further advice and instruction in the realm of photography.