We were very pleased when the Royal Ontario Museum approached us about converting the exhibition souvenir guide for Pompeii: In the Shadow of the Volcano.

coins_pompeiiWhile meant to serve as a companion to the Pompeii exhibit, the guide also stands on its own with its stunning photography and background on the life of people in Pompeii. The guide includes photography of nearly 40 showpieces included in the exhibit and other unique contextual images, and the ROM has integrated some interactive components for ebook applications that support those features.

Fixed layout ebook formats are suited to eBooks with more complex designs and titles that are image/graphic-heavy – which is exactly what the ROM required for this Pompeii souvenir guide. The fixed layout format allowed us to preserve the complex layout of the original with multiple columns and insert images. Please visit this page to learn more about the benefits and limitations of both fixed-layout and reflowable formats.

mapzoom_pompeiiFor Pompeii, we produced four separate fixed-layout versions to take advantage of features offered by different platforms. We created a fixed-layout ePUB 3 for Kobo, Google, Overdrive and eSentral. As with all the fixed-layout formats, we were able to retain the sophisticated layout of the original in the ePUB 3 file with multiple columns and text positioned over images, while using features specific to ebooks such as an interactive Contents lists, thumbnail views, and the ability to zoom in on pages to enhance a reader’s experience and make the books easy to navigate.

The ePUB 3 format also allows for embedded videos, which the ROM integrated to provide readers with exclusive information about various artifacts included in the Pompeii exhibit.


We also created a version specifically for iBooks, which offered all the same features as the ePUB 3, but also included an interactive widget for one artifact, which allowed readers to rotate the portrait bust 360 degrees, as well as zoom in on it.


The Kindle Textbook Creator version for Kindle Fire devices, Kindle for PC and Android and iOS apps and the PagePerfect PDF version for Barnes and Noble don’t offer as many features as the ePUB and iBooks version do, given the limitations of those formats, but they still preserve the more complex formatting of images and text that Pompeii required.

In addition to these four fixed-layout files, we created a flowable Mobi file for Kindle devices that don’t support fixed-layout files. This required changes to the layout as the flowable format did not allow us to replicate the multi-column layout, and we had to decide on a consistent layout for all the images of artifacts and their captions to ensure a reader was always clear on what information belonged with what image. We tried to match as much of the special formatting as we could in this flowable version, while still working within the limitations of that format.

What we tried to achieve with all these different versions was a reading experience that capitalized on what each platform offered, while serving the rich and engaging content provided by the ROM.

To purchase a copy of Pompeii: In the Shadow of the Volcano, please visit the ROM’s website. And if you’re in or visiting Toronto, you can visit the Pompeii exhibit up until January 3, 2016.


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