I’m often asked about why we don’t offer print versions of our books, so I thought I’d take some time to answer this question, and to fully explain our decision to focus on digital books.
Having owned, reviewed, or otherwise been exposed to a great many modelling guides over the years, I began to notice that many of them shared the same set of unavoidable shortcomings. These were largely due to the limitations of the print format, and not necessarily any fault of the good people involved in their production.
The print process for books and magazines is complex and expensive, and necessarily entails a high level of risk—no publisher or author wants to get lumbered with a warehouse full of unsold books and a substantial financial loss. In print, pages cost money, and none more so than the glossy, heavily illustrated variety. Therefore, one of the overarching constraints of the print medium is the need to keep the page count to a financially-viable minimum, and this often manifests itself in text and images that are too small, and cramped layouts that can be difficult to follow at times.
It seemed to me that the best way to solve these issues would be to avoid print altogether.
The decision to go with a digital format opens up a range of possibilities and options not readily available in print, and collectively they drive our content first ethos. Rather than treat digital publishing as a poor cousin of print publishing, we decided to exploit the inherent advantages of the medium to the benefit of the reader.
To that end, our primary guiding principle is let the content determine the page count. Our books are as long (or as short) as they need to be to convey the relevant content appropriately, and if additional content surfaces, we can add that in too, without fear of breaking some arbitrary page count limit. In effect, there is no page limit.
The freedom to design books of any page length allows us to use larger font sizes, and to display images at the maximum size allowable. This approach requires more pages for a given amount of content, but we’ve already seen that this is not a problem.
Build photos are not tiny thumbnails, and a single image may in fact occupy up to half the available space on a page:
Walkaround images, where included, are displayed as large as possible, and a single photograph may even occupy an entire page:
Finished gallery images are not cluttered with competing text and graphics:
One of our recent titles, Building Mac’s Birddog in 1/32 Scale, features a 53-page walkaround of the O-1 Birddog, while our book Building the Wingnut Wings AEG G.IV Late in 1/32 Scale contains a 27-page tutorial on painting wood-grain effects on propellors. Neither of these sections would have been viable in a printed book, and would have needed to be substantially reduced.
But, I Like Physical Books!
Yeah, we understand that, and we do too! We’re not proposing that printed books are redundant, or that you have to pledge your allegiance to one camp or the other. We simply feel that the nature of the content we plan to publish is better served in a digital format, and conversely, is not viable in the print medium. Some of our planned titles will cover specialised or niche modelling topics, and would be completely untenable as printed books. We wish that there were a workable compromise for this impasse, and if we find one, we will certainly explore it!
In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, either here in the comments, or on our Facebook page.