Mark Hurrell.


Content design

05 September 2017

Back in the early days of GDS I worked with Sarah Richards. Anyway, she went off and worked on other stuff, and recently wrote a book about content design. I designed it for her.

You can buy a copy here.

So, weird story from when we were producing it.

Because the book is mostly about writing content for websites, it has a few images of websites in it. ‘Screenshots’ if you will.

Anyway, Amazon print-on-demand does full bleed printing – which means you can have images that go right up to the edge of the page. We wanted our images, including the screenshots, to be full-bleed.

But when you produce a book for print-on-demand, there’s an automated proofing process that checks for any errors in the book before you can get it printed. And every time we tried to print the book, the pages with screenshots on them were flagged as errors.

Amazon’s customer support channels are awful. Any problem you contact them about is considered ‘resolved’ in once you’ve been sent a reply, which makes it really hard to get to the bottom of a problem like this.

After weeks of copying and pasting email threads into customer support requests, we figured out that the automated proofing process wouldn’t let us print the book because the screenshots were full bleed.

The proofing AI is designed to make sure none of the content of your book is accidentally cropped off the edge of the page, but it can’t tell the difference between the text content of your book and the text in a screenshot of a webpage you’re including in it.

And neither us (the designer and client) nor the customer support staff are able to overrule it.

So basically, Amazon’s AI can’t tell the difference between the words in a book and pictures of words in a book, and that means you can’t have full-bleed screenshots in your book.

If you want to chat more about stuff like this, send me an email or get in touch on Twitter.