What ebook production problems are self-publishers facing?

Driven by curiosity (as always), I’ve just spend a large part of my lunch break browsing through various forums[1], trying to get a handle on what problems self-publishers are facing when they are creating their ebooks.

My impression is that, unlike what I expected from the work and challenges I face making ebooks for a traditional publisher, styling and formatting isn’t a major issue—formatting problems seem limited to edge cases. I’m assuming this is because most self-publishers are doing novels with very simple style needs.

The problems people seem to be facing, in no particular order:

Just say no to ebook CSS and JS

You think I’m joking? One of the biggest issue publishers face with ebook production is the somewhat adversarial attitude ereader and app vendors have taken towards publisher stylesheets. Publisher styles are largely overridden by default at Kobo, B&N, and in Aldiko. Even iBooks requires you to slot in a set of proprietary meta tags before it respects your font and image decisions. Problems with vendor stylesheet overrides: They are inconsistent from platform to platform, vendor to vendor, and device to device.

Proprietary ebook formats versus DRM

Micah made this here statement on Twitter the other day, articulating neatly what a lot of us have been thinking for a while now: It is not random that Amazon does not use EPUB. Consumers dislike DRM, but are all right with proprietary formats. -- Micah (@micahsb) [August 17, 2013](https://twitter.com/micahsb/statuses/368546780943642624) Very true. It’s something that has bothered me for years and years. I spent years arguing against the use of proprietary formats in interactive media academia (they were unnaturally fond of what was then Macromedia Director).