Woman reading the Treasury Greenbook as an e-book

Treasury's Greenbook now available as e-book

The Treasury Department has made its Greenbook available for download as an e-book. Formally known as the General Explanations of the Administration’s Revenue Proposals, the document details various policy proposals included in the president's budget. According to a Treasury blog post, the e-book provides users with improved navigation and search options compared to print and PDF versions that have long been offered.

Treasury joins a growing list of agencies making the move toward e-books, which can both eliminate the costs of paper printing and distribution and provide greater interactivity for readers. E-books can also be more widely distributed through the U.S. Government Online Bookstore, Apple, Google, Barnes & Noble.com, Overdrive and other channels.

The Department of State has joined the trend as well, digitalizing its publications of Foreign Relations of the United States. FRUS is the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity. There are 110 e-book editions of the series, according to a White House report. The e-books offer the full content of each volume and include features such as bookmarking and note taking.

The General Services Administration has been trying to help government agencies move into e-book publishing. It posted several tips on its DigitalGov site, where it encouraged agencies to  think about functionality, not aesthetics, adding that longer, reference works are good candidates for e-book formats.   

GSA emphasized that e-books are great for reading on mobile devices with adjustable and reflowable text, but the single-column format does not allow for much design .

Among GSA’s tips were:

  • There are two main file types: .epub and .mobi. Amazon Kindles use .mobi, and most other devices use .epub. Agencies should get both.
  • Don’t anguish over particular fonts (typefaces). Most devices only display a few fonts, and the reader can change the defaults.
  • Tables are problematic. Avoid ones with more than three columns or a lot of text.
  • Accessible e-books need metadata, alt-tags, a navigable table of contents, hyperlinks and cross-references.
  • Be sure to create  a rasterized cover image and images that are anchored within the text. Images that aren’t anchored wind up at the end of the chapter.

About the Author

Mike Cipriano is a GCN editorial intern, and also writes occasionally for FCW. Connect with him on Twitter: @mikecip07.

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