Premium Superbooks 📚

Premium Superbooks 📚

  • bubblin
  • 3 minutes
  • March 17, 2019

Three months ago we made an announcement on Hacker News and made it to the top of the front page. It was around 11:00 pm in the night when our show:hn link started ticking on the dashboard and over a period of next 24 hours we recieved plenty of actionable feedback, lots of hackernews-ish criticism and a total of 376 signups.

Not bad. We were onto something. 🎻

Today, I’m super happy to announce our first premium Superbook came about:

It’s called The Return of Exile by David Eyk. 🍻

[ Image credit: David Eyk]

David’s first book is a first from his eight-part space opera series the Salvage of Empire. In his own words “it’s a cliffhanger”, and I’m sure you’ll love reading the first episode as much as I did. You can buy it today.

What’s different about this book is that it is not a typical ebook format. It’s not even a file format to begin with. And yet the book features twenty fullbleed bifolium illustrations, a clever plot and an inspiring hero with questionable leadership skills.

The story on the book is inlaid with responsive typography and scaled* intrinsically in a way that meets the requirement of referential accessibility.

*The typset is scaled but the scaling isn’t perfect so to speak. I have a feeling that formatability of a book on the web will settle somewhere in the middle of what a physical book can do and what the web is good at.

The book is iPad–first and also offline-first.

It is supported almost every device on the planet via the web browser or native apps on the app stores. We expect it to work on Apple Watch Safari too, but I couldn’t test it immediately since my watch is an older version. The initial feedback has been great and about 3% readers confirmed that the experience was ideal (magical even) on the iPad in landscape mode.

Well, we are rooting for the promise of post-pc era on web here! 🏅


Working with David on his book was a perfect opportunity for us to tune out the potential of Bubblin. Through his book we were able to develop a formula to scale text independent of the browser (except Safari). Scale content without triggering a reflow no matter which device the user is on.

This had been deemed impossible or difficult to achieve on digital medium.

I personally believe that pagination without reflow is critical for books to succeed online. Referential accessibility is not only possible today, it also has some wonderful side-effects.

For example, all of the content on a book sits above-the-fold. So there is no need to scroll for the juicy bits. Each page on the book becomes independently referenceable using page numbers, so you and your friends can be on the same page together.

This is kind of a big-deal because with this kind of surgical referenceability it is now possible for students to enjoy books in a classroom together and be able to send you on page number 416 of Pride and Prejudice, for example, to find out what Ms. Elizabeth says to Mr. Darcy when she is unhappy.

It’s literally about being on the same page, on the web!

With this kind of referential integrity there is more room for group reading, conversations, and annotations without the confusion or poor experience of a downloaded artifact. All using the standard HTML with ARIA flavor that makes up the web. David’s book is an experiment for us to test the ability to print scalable books on the web.

We have open sourced the formula for scaled typography under limited Blue Oak License 1.0.0. This formula solves a middle path between fluid and fixed layout ebooks. The same technique is available on a ready-to-use layout template for novel type of works and it comes along with a tiny CLI called h2s that will quickly turn your manuscript into a web-compatible Superbook.

Written by: Marvin Danig, CEO of Bubblin Superbooks. Follow me on Twitter perhaps?

P.S.: It’s likely that you read this post on your desktop. That’s obsolete. We recommend you revisit us on your iPad!

About the author

Marvin Danig

I write code with my bare hands. 💪🏻 Yammer about Bubblin all day.