Ebook Templates – A Waste of Money?

Many people argue that ebooks don’t have to be beautiful: the ebook readers or apps will ‘strip’ their formatting anyway, letting the user set their preferred font and line space. But, on the other hand: why shouldn’t ebooks be beautiful? A book that is not only written well but also visually appealing to the reader has a better chance of enchanting customers and get them to come back. We are not even thinking about bad formatting.

There are many steps between a book that provides bad user experience (has, for example, forced line breaks, or is unreadable) and a book that is beautiful. Creating beautiful ebooks, however, can be easier if you have an ebook template. It can also come handy when you are a beginner in ebook formatting and would like to check your book against a ‘professional’ example. When to use an ebook template? What are the common formats? Is using a template for everyone? Read on.

Too cool for school? Download our valid epub sample made using Sigil and use it as a template.

This article lists some ebook templates you should never use, and a few that formatting beginners can use in order to produce valid epubs. To use the templates we provide below we recommend that you download and install Sigil, the free to use professional ebook editor. Many freely available or low cost ebook templates will require to use Adobe InDesign.

What is an ebook template?

Ebook templates are ebook layouts filled with ‘dummy’ text (like lorem ipsum) and stock photos or free to use photos. To use an ebook template, just download it, open it, click ‘Save as’ and name it as your book. Then change the text and the images: delete the old text and add your own. Most cases, you can simply copy and paste your book from Word chapter by chapter.

ebook template

Fixed layout or reflowable

Most ebook templates you’ll find are for producing fixed layout books. Fixed layout means that there is a fixed way of how everything in the book is organised. The book does not adapt well on the phone’s or reader’s screen, a bit similar to a pdf. In a fixed layout book, everything has an absolute position on the page: the reader cannot change the type, the font size or the line spacing as they wish.

Picture-heavy books like textbooks and children’s books can be very pretty as fixed-layout but unfortunately not all stores accept them. Fixed-layout books often display incorrectly (or not at all) at a device they weren’t designed for.

We recommend that publishers working with fixed-layout books also produce a reflowable version for wider distribution.

Actually, not all picture books have to be fixed-layout! Reflowable layout (liquid layout) works very well for most children books as well. Many people believe that all books they create with the epub 3.0 standard, using interactive material should be fixed-layout; but this is not the case. An ebook can be reflowable and still have all the great features of the epub 3.0 standard.

In a reflowable ebook, everything has a relative place: for example, if your book has pictures and the picture does not fit next to the paragraph, it will display above or below it. In a fixed-layout book if the picture would not fit next to the paragraph, it would not be displaying at all. Reflowable layout books let readers change the size and the type of the font, or even the background colour. We don’t recommend publishing fixed-layout ebooks unless it is absolutely necessary.

If you were to go for a fixed-layout book, an ebook template could help you speed up the conversion process.

Fixed-layout ebook templates

Many services offer a fixed layout ebook template; however I am still to find one that is actually a book template. Before you download any ebook template, check the file format and the possible output format. Many ebook templates are created with InDesign in mind (.indd): they are OK if you own InDesign at the first place. Others are designed by companies with their own apps in mind, like Blurb or Lucidpress.

Hubspot, for example, lists 13 free ebook templates to use with InDesign or PowerPoint. We don’t recommend these templates, as PowerPoint is not for publishing books. A layout like this would be OK to produce a pdf, but most ebook stores don’t accept books in pdf format.

The same goes for the templates listed by Lucidpress: pretty as they are, they can only be used to create a pdf, thus hindering distribution opportunities.

These templates are great for getting inspired and see the trends in fixed-layout design but are not suitable for wide ebook distribution. Unless you are looking for a template to use it for distributing marketing-material, I would recommend never to pay for an ebook template.

If you are using Sigil or another professional ebook editing program, the following professional fixed-layout template might be of interest. Just open it and change the text (and everything else you might want to change).

Ebook template

You can, however, create your own ebook template: once you have designed your beautiful book using one of these ebook authoring apps, just change the text and pictures.

Reflowable layout ebook templates

If you are a beginner in ebook publishing, an ebook template can come handy to check your book against a professionally designed book. PublishDrive has created an epub template for you: just use the file in this article. It is filled up with ‘sample’ data: change the title, the author, the cover and, of course, the text following the instructions in the article.

There is a much fancier reflowable template on J. Abram Barneck’s website: it even has drop caps (bigger first letters)! Just download the template and copy and paste your own text instead of his book.

If you are already an advanced user, you can download a template css and import it in Sigil. This websites explains how to create your own template css and also provides an example.

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