eBooks 101: Standard Vs. Fixed Layout

fixed layout

Updated June 2017.

One of the most frequent questions we get asked here at BookBaby is “What’s the difference between a fixed layout eBook and a regular eBook?”

What is a “standard” eBook?

A standard eBook (generally in ePUB format) employs real-time flowable text so you can read it on any eReader and adjust the font size and style to fit your reading preferences. There is no set pagination with a standard eBook because the number of words displayed per page can change based on user settings and the screen size of the particular device.

Most eBooks are standard ePUB format. This format is ideal for text-based books and books with small images embedded amongst the text (which essentially creates paragraph breaks).

What is a “fixed layout” eBook?

When it comes to books that rely heavily on design elements or large illustrations/photos (cookbooks, children’s books, coffee table books, graphic novels, etc.), fixed layout eBooks may be the better solution if you want to preserve the qualities of the printed page. To put it plainly, the pages of a fixed layout eBook are… fixed! Content (images, text, etc.) will not “flow” across the page if you change your settings, though most devices will allow the reader to zoom in and out.

Fixed layout is like the digital version of typesetting; you can embed fonts, choose the exact placement of visual elements, etc. The benefit of fixed layout is that you’re in complete control of the experience. The drawback is that readers are NOT! With fixed layout, readers lose the ability to resize text, change margins, change spacing, and change fonts.

Keep in mind that a fixed layout eBook is different from a PDF file. While the content is not re-flowable, a fixed layout eBook can make use of enhanced interactive features. Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon all support derivations of fixed layout ePUB files (though BookBaby currently only delivers fixed layout titles to iBookstore).

Use the standard ePUB format if:

  • your book is mostly text (besides the cover art).
  • your book features small images that are embedded between paragraphs.
  • you want to ensure maximum usability for your book (since standard eBooks are readable on most eReaders, tablets, smart-phones, and computers).

Consider fixed layout if:

  • you want to preserve text over images.
  • you would like to set a background color.
  • you want text to wrap around images.
  • you want your book to have horizontal orientation.
  • you want multi-column text pages.
  • your pages have aspect ratios that you don’t want to change.

Since fixed layout eBooks require some extra attention during the conversion process, conversion often costs more than a basic ePUB conversion. The technical experts at BookBaby can handle fixed layout ePUB conversion (for iPad and iPhone only) to convert your high-resolution PDF files into an eBook with a fixed layout, designed especially for the Apple Books app, as well as submit your book for distribution to the Apple Books store. Click HERE to get started!

How To Guide for 

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Chris Robley is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."


    • Hello,

      We would be happy to help you publish your ebook! Have you had a chance to look at the pricing page on our website? Through our online quoter, you can build a perfectly customized package for your book, including ebook conversion, distribution, and more. Once you save the quote to your account (or create a new account) you will be able to access your author dashboard and get started with our publishing process. You can get started by building a quote here: http://bit.ly/1OzoS7W


  1. I’m an author and also a songwriter. I’m very much interested in becoming an e-book publisher too. Please can someone help me with the necessary procedures? Thanks!

  2. Thank you so much for explaining the difference between the two types of e-books. I now know exactly which type of e-book conversion I need. (I am soon preparing the second draft of my e-book and this will be when I complete a course in poetry writing. My first draft was written well before I even started the course!)


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