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Why Digital?


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This is a repost of an article I published on the KLP website back in October, but thought it might be useful to post it here in its entirety.


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.


Our Manifesto


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.





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Very interesting post Kev,

I for one have always prefered a pysical book/ magazine to look at and is what I would normally always buy is the physical copy. Also being a very small business in the UK serving print companies I see a lot of our favourite modelling magazines being produced and mailed out in various differnt locations around the country i will aiways urge people not to forget the printed copy!


However, after buying Karim's AEG build I can honestly say this format does have some definate advantages which are:


No problems with trying to read very small fonts over a similiar coloured picture as the background-this for me immediately puts me of ready the article from there on in.


Very high quality images


always at hand on any smart device


Choose the page you may want to print out when working on a subject.


The list goes on, however, people do need to remember print does have  place and should not be forgotten, but this is an exceptional format for the builds that KLP are targetting at the moment and will help us all grow our skill sets.


Just my thoughts having just purchased one of these formats.


Regards. Andy

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Thanks for your thoughts, Andy. I want to reiterate that I'm in no way trying to convince anyone that printed books are a waste of time and money. And I'm certainly not trying to displace print-based modelling guides in the marketplace. I just became motivated to go beyond the limitations of the format, and exploit the possibilities that a digital-only approach offers. Most digital titles in the modelling world are simply dumps of the print version, inheriting all its limitations, as well as introducing new ones - such as photos that break across facing pages, and having everything too small to interact with satisfactorily without lots of zooming.


So it's not so much a matter of me trying to convince people that digital books are objectively better, but simply saying that they offer a different set of benefits, and can co-exist happily with their printed cousins.


A small anecdote: only yesterday a review sample of a printed modelling guide arrived at my doorstep, all the way from the UK. Sadly, it was water-damaged, with pages stuck together, and a bit warped, wrinkled, and generally unusable. The vendor is graciously sending me a replacement (and will get props in the review for service), but you can imagine the thoughts that ran through my mind upon seeing the condition the book was in.



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I think digital is the way to go, with high enough resolution you can enlarge the image to pick the detail up. Really difficult in print format.


Browsing through Amazon very little digital formats in our field of interest, hopefully will change......


And having been through the process of trying to establish a presence on Amazon, I can see why! For starters, they keep up to 65% of the cover price, and also charge a per-megabyte download fee for their 70% royalty plan. I worked out that I would end up having to pay Amazon per book download at my current pricing structure. It's a sales model that really only works for cheap paperbacks and expensive coffee table books; everything in the middle (like what I do) just doesn't work on Amazon.



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Interesting read and thanks for sharing. I love digital media and over the past few years have transferred most of my books I use as reference for modelling  to digital format. I can sit at the bench with the book open on the computer and not have to worry about a book holder or turning pages.

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