We recently worked with the United Ways of California on the conversion of Struggling to Get By: The Real Cost Measure in California 2015. They are an organization committed to advancing opportunities for low- and moderate-income people in the areas of health, education and income.

As outlined on the United Ways of California website:

coverStruggling to Get By introduces the Real Cost Measure, a basic needs budget approach to better understand the challenges facing California households. A basic needs budget approach is intuitive and easy for most people to understand, as it is composed of things all families must address such as food, housing, transportation, childcare, out of pocket health expenses, and taxes. A basic needs budget approach takes into account different costs of living in different communities, and also conveys a better sense of the hardship for families with income below the basic needs budget level as it invokes the notion of tradeoffs between competing needs—if you have an inadequate level of income, do you sacrifice on food, gas, or childcare?

Among the questions Struggling to Get By seeks to answer are: What is the true cost of living for struggling households? What do we know about these households and the challenges they face every day? What do their family configurations look like? How many are led by one or more working adults, and more.

In answering these questions, Struggling to Get By explores the Real Cost Measure through different lenses. At the geographic level, we conduct “apples to apples” comparisons among counties, regions and neighborhoods (through public use microdata areas). We also discuss challenges facing specific households such as single mothers, households with young children, households of color and seniors.

The complexity of the formatting meant the United Ways’ report was best suited to fixed-layout eBook formats rather than reflowable ones.

For the United Ways, we produced a fixed layout ePUB 3 (which has been discussed in an earlier blog), a format that can be sold through Apple’s iBook Store and iTunes, Kobo and their partners, and Google Play.


For Amazon, we created a KTC file for the United Ways. We produce both KF8 and KTC fixed layout formats for Amazon, as well as Kindle Comics (more on this last format in a upcoming blog), but KTC is typically a better option than KF8 for books that include lots of text. Though not required in Struggling to Get By, the KTC format also supports the integration of video and audio.

KTC files work on Fire tablets and free Kindle reading apps for iPad, iPhone, Android phones, Android tablets, PC and Mac. Unlike KF8, the KTC format supports pinch-zoom navigation which allows readers to easily enlarge an area of the page. For the United Ways’ eBook, readers can easily using the pinch-zoom action to enlarge the figures and tables used throughout the report.


KTC files can be created in either landscape or portrait orientation. Since the text would have appeared too small in landscape view (two-page spreads) for the United Ways’ eBook, a portrait orientation was used.

Though KTC did not initially allow for internal or external links, they can now be embedded in the files as long as those links are included in the input document sent for conversion. This feature – which is also supposed in other formats – allows us to create a linked Table of Contents and index, as well as link cross references depending on what’s required by each project.

notesWith the KTC format readers are able to search, highlight and take notes, which makes the format ideal for reports, textbooks and other non-fiction titles with a more complex layout.

For Struggling to Get By, these features mean readers can search for key terms and also keep track of important statistics and other information as they review the report.

Proceeds from the eBook help support United Ways of California’s mandate to improve the health, education and financial results for low-income children and families. If you’re interested in learning more about Struggling to Get By, please visit this website.


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