Running heads are an integral part of print books. These appear at the top of inside sheets except on pages at the start of chapters. One side carries the author name, the other title of the book, or sometimes the name of the chapter. Pick up any print book and the use of running heads is self evident.

But these have been lost in transition to ebooks where the ‘pages’ are dynamically generated based on the ebook reader, and size of text selected.

Why is this a problem?

Kindle is a great convenience but something is lost. The cover is almost never visible once you’ve bought the book. I would love for the option of setting the lock screen to the current book – so when it is ‘closed’ you are reminded of what you are reading.

Perhaps its my middle-aged brain but I need the regular reminder to fix the author and title in my brain. But until Amazon changes the software we will be directed to the first page, or our current reading page.

The solution we came up with for Varho was to put a running head at the top of every chapter. This ironically is the opposite to how running heads are used in print – but it works. Here’s the first chapter of Varho. for reference.

Running head example for ebooks

We think this is a good result and solves the problem of keeping the book title and author name in the mind of the reader. We believe that more book designers should implement this innovation. If it has worked for centuries in print books then let’s change the paradigm for ebooks to match.