What Exactly Is Reflowable Text?

Text is reflowable, like what appears on your NOOK eReader, when a sentence reaches the end of the allotted space on the page and it wraps around to the next line. And when there is no more space for lines on the page, the text flows over onto the next page.

Remember Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg? Well, at least you may recall his last name. Gutenberg is credited with the invention, or at least the popularization, of moveable type around 1439. When he began printing books using individual pieces of type, books entered a new phase—one that has changed relatively little in the nearly six hundred years since.

No, Gutenberg could not possibly have imagined the NOOK Color or the NOOK Simple Touch. But he surely would understand the concept of reflowable text.

Back to paper and ink books. If the hardcover edition of a book used pages that were about six inches wide by nine inches tall, while the paperback edition of the same book used pages about four inches wide by seven inches tall, something has to give.

To make things simple, say that the paperback edition would need to have more pages. (It could also use smaller type, but that’s a whole other matter.) Either way, though, a sentence that might appear on page 100 of the hardcover might be on page 128 of the paperback.

As far as the NOOK is concerned, the key point is to work with files of reflowable text; that means that the image on the screen can be adjusted by the user by choosing type size and style, line spacing, margins, and other visual effects. Here are the essential elements:

  • Barnes & Noble generally uses files stored in a digital format called EPUB, an industry standard electronic publication design.

  • Barnes & Noble also applied Digital Rights Management (DRM) to the files to restrict the use of a particular file to a specific B&N account.

  • Other booksellers and some sources of free material also provide files in the EPUB format, with or without DRM restrictions.

  • NOOK devices can also display PDF (Portable Document Format) files, available from a wide variety of commercial and free sources.

  • You can create your own PDF files for display on a NOOK eReader by converting word processing, spreadsheet, and certain other types of files.

For more information about the NOOK eReader and its features, explore NOOK eReaders For Dummies, Portable Edition.

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