Robot 6

When is a preview not a preview?

There’s a brave new world of digital comics out there, but some publishers, it appears, aren’t taking it very seriously.

One of the advantages of ebook formats like Kindle and iBooks is that you can offer the reader a free sample of the book so they can see if they will like it. The problem is that these “free samples” often consist entirely of what editors call “front matter”—title page, half-title, copyright page, and blank pages in between them. No comics.

This probably comes from automatically grabbing the first few pages of the file for the preview without checking what they are. At the downthetubes Mobile Comics blog, John Maybury offers some suggestions for publishers to get their comic into the preview and their front matter out of the way. More publishers should heed his advice, because these content-free previews are distressingly common. When I was writing about IDW’s graphic novels on iBooks the other day, I got curious and checked out some of the other offerings; of the ones I looked at, only the IDW books and Bluewater’s Violet Rose had actual previews. That’s a shame, because the preview can be a powerful selling tool—but only if it has actual content. Setting up a preview and putting nothing but almost-blank pages into it wastes everyone’s time, especially the reader’s.

Click for an example of a preview done right.



This is hard to get right, especially when your publishing eBook graphic novels I struggled with mine Fabula Exposition on the Kindle and with the Nook. A preview is approximately 10-15% of the book which means only two- three pages top from most comic medium books

Or you could do what most self pub ebook authors are doing — throwing the copyright, etc into the BACK of the file.

I think some of this is an Apple issue. SLG has been putting comics in the iTunes store, we have two series going there that are currently only available as digital, one called Sanctuary another called Monstrosis.

In the case of Monstrosis we uploaded a preview of the first 10 pages of issue #2and #3 (issue one is a free download so it seemed pointless to offer a preview).

The way it is done is that you have to prepare a separate ePub file for the preview, they do not automatically grab from the file you upload for sale. In the case of issue #2 only the first four pages appear in the preview, and the preview for issue #3 shows you the entire book. Emails to iTunes support have gone unanswered.

Strange thing is that I have heard from other people who looked at the previews for each of the above mentioned books who had totally different results.

Dan Vado

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