ebooks

The release of four new devices from Amazon late in September 2011 came with this video commercial that illustrates the power of spreading ideas in writing... now electronically. It is like fire, says F-M A. Voltaire. See the overview of KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing, in this February 2018 article at make-use-of.com

Question: Based on my experiences reading on-screen and on my portable reading device, I have taken an interest in finding the path of least resistance to putting one's work online in a format convenient to others who read on e-Ink portable screen devices like those from Sony, Amazon-kindle, Barnes & Noble and so on. What is the path of least resistence to publishing ideas electronically for portable reading?

 
Answer: For text dominant work the easiest path is to use a word processor to follow the Style Guide from Amazon's DigitalTextPlatform or from the multi-retail, multi-format service at Smashwords.com (see below). For image dominant work with captions or brief commentary, I have compared options that first occur to me: word processor (insert multiple images in one motion, then go back to add text to separate each one), PowerPoint (insert batch of images as "new album" then add text, but "save as... PDF" and then conversion for eBook publishing) or use the "print to PDF" on an image manager such as Picasa to create picture plus caption.

I dream of the day when scholars routinely publish short and long writings with images (maybe audio and/or video clips included) by way of electronic books (eBooks). In October 2010 I bought a Kindle from Amazon. I love the ease of e-Ink reading portably. I began to chronicle my learning curve at http://neoazw.blogspot.com and recently heard an interview about making article-length publications for distribution or sale. This format offers an alternative to the  book-length works and blogs. The interview takes up about 25 minutes (beginning at the 10 minute mark) at http://www.thekindlechronicles.com/2011/07/01/tkc-154-kate-harper/
 
Kate Harper is the guest on "The Kindle Chronicles" for the week of 1 July 2011 (podcast #154). She released a mini-publication on Amazon about how to design, produce and sell short pieces: not the 30-90 page length of the Amazon "single" or the full-scale eBook. These shorter works she calls articles, although they appear at the Amazon storefront right along with book titles for the present. Her release is 99 cents, http://www.amazon.com/Publish-Sell-Your-Kindle-ebook/dp/B004MDLKKK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1309535268&sr=1-1
see also the Amazon guidelines for the pamphleteer long form essay of 5,000 - 30,000 words, called the Amazon Single (using the metaphor of vinyl disks: albums vs. singles), http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kin_post_os_07262011_singles6months?&docId=1000700491

 

Here then are details as of 6/2011

To begin with there a couple of questions to ask:
 
1. Which is more important: wide circulation and discussion, or long-term revenues (or a little of both)?
If the former, then distribution free electronically and on-demand hardcopy (paid service) may make most sense.
If the latter, then the eCommerce question comes into play: go with a ready-made storefront like Amazon's DTP (digital text platform) or smashwords.com for instance.
Alternatively, you may have a little of both: offer the no-frills version free and/or asking donations via Paypal at your own website, but also offer a premium version (more images, back matter, page of hotlinks and so on) at one of the above Big Distributors.
 
2. Distribution: will it mostly be targeting exiting friend, family, and colleagues who will find out about this in your communications to them? Or will anonymous general public be sought out as readers, too? If the former, then announcing via email and your website, e-lists, blog, Facebook and so on may be adequate. But for maximum storefront shelfspace, so to speak, then Amazon (a first stop for many curious people) or the multiple platform service at smashwords.com may be smartest (released to Apple iBooks, Amazon, and several others simultaneously).
 
3. Level of polish: for simple text and image/graphic, then the process is rapid indeed. But to add some more functionality (ToC linkage to chapters) it takes a little more time.
As for non-Latin scripts like the E.Asia kana/kanji, I know that the Kindle platform will display this all right as text (or as graphic/image, of course: including Cyrillic and Greek, Hebrew, Arabic and Korean among others), but I am not familiar with the other devices ability to render non-Latin scripts.
 
Recently I read through the free "purchase" [i.e. treated as purchased property and supported as such, but involving no payment since the list price is $0] of Mark Coker's eBooks about Smashwords Style Guide - How to Format, Publish and Distribute an Ebook for Free (Smashwords Guides) (Kindle eBook- Apr. 18, 2011) and his related Smashwords Book Marketing Guide - How to Market any Book for Free (Smashwords Guides).

In addition at no cost, I got the Kindle version of  How To Publish An Ebook On A Budget - An Author's Guide to the Free Yet Professional Way to Get Your Writing Up For Sale on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble NOOK, Smashwords and more by Stephanie Zia
 
Here are my reading notes about publishing with Smashwords, http://sites.google.com/site/big1file/nb-smashwords

ADVICE

Here are my reflections editing memoirs for my town museum, http://tinyurl.com/edit2011ebook.
Here are my general recommendations for scholarly writers:
 
1. Use smashwords.com to publish the MS in multiple formats simultaneously and display at the several cooperating eBook sites.
 
2. Keep the formating simple in block style: basic font sets and image or graphic treated as a block paragraph (not inline or word wrapping).
See style guide, above. See also notes taken from PDF guide to formating eBooks by using Microsoft Word for PC or Mac by M.A.Demers
 
3. While Kindle is monochrome, those reading with kindle-reading software on Android, iPad or desktop mac/PC can see color (as will readers who chose the PDF version that Smashwords produces among its conversions to several formats simultaneously).

By the way, here is a high quality example to view as a benchmark.
2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake by The quakebook community and Our Man in Abiko (Apr 12, 2011) -Kindle eBook Buy: $0.00
This project came out in about 3-4 weeks after the event and is composed of several streams of commenting (twitter, facebook, emails). Since the fund-raiser currently is on the amazon store for free, you can easily get a copy and open/view with the free kindle-for-desktop software from amazon.com It may give you some formating ideas. As well, the editor of that volume may give you some useful advice for working via Amazon. Compared to Smashwords, the amazon route has several advantages: purchased books give the user an online backup of all highlighting/annotations they make to the eText, and curious visitors can download a sample chapter free. However all this happens in the kindle-format universe (on the portable device or one of the reading-software devices: android, iPod, mac, PC).
 

ARTICLE-LENGTH PUBLISHING

Kate Harper's $.99 book-lette tells everything about producing a compact publication that is shorter than a book and fewer words than the long-essay Amazon Single.
screenshot from Contents page of Kate Harper, Publishing Kindle Articles [click image for full size view]
 
 

RELATED -self publishing (print)

See the "about page" and "how to self publish" (style guide) at the copy center of Michigan State University library and their new "expresso book machine," http://www.lib.msu.edu/about/ebm/selfpublish.jsp or the radio story about it. Maximum 800 pages, many customary book dimensions available, print runs above 30 may be granted a bulk pricing rate, eBooks carried on google (PDF) can also produced on demand in print, as well.
  Article for both eBook and Print books, http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/4-quick-ways-write-publish-books-web/
 
 

RELATED (electronic publications)

KDP, kindle direct publishing, "paperback formatting advice" and series of how-to videos at youtube for ebook writers/editors

Presentation handout from The Kindle Chronicles podcaster, Len Edgerly, with do's and don'ts and next steps when getting acclimated to writing for eBook readers.
 
Jenny Blake shares the secrets of her self-publishing success. After her talk, she graciously agreed to share her spreadsheet with our beloved Domino Project readers.
You can find it here in Google docs format and here in Excel (as a download).

Here’s her description:
Thousands of books are published every year, and yet many authors feel like they have to figure out the road to promotion alone. Authors (together with their publicists and agents) work tirelessly to reinvent the promotion wheel every single time. There is no one size fits all approach, but there can be a more streamlined way to get organized.
I knew I needed a way to track the hundreds of book promotion action items and ideas floating around in my head — everything from website development to book tour planning to advance copy recipient lists. I created this spreadsheet as a way of organizing the hundreds of things an author thinks about on the road to book launch, in hopes of making others’ lives easier in what can be an overwhelming and stressful process
.
 

E-Pub format (fall 2011 expected compatibility of *.epub and *azw)

Wiki about using ePub: Teaching,creating and sharing mobile content for eReaders using ePub format. http://2epub.wikispaces.com/home
Overview of reading and writing for ePub, http://www.labnol.org/software/epub-format-ebooks/10879/
 
Software to read one document from multiple devices (instead of one copy on each device), http://bookworm.oreilly.com/
Bookworm allows readers to add ePub books to their online library and read them on their web browser or mobile device. If you have a portable device that supports ePub (such as the Sony Reader or iRex iLiad), you can download your books to put on your e-reader. Bookworm is specially optimized for use in the iPhone aand can export directly to Stanza.
 

http://www.online-convert.com ---You can either upload an *.epub from your computer, or type in an URL to an online *epub location. The browser will automatically download the result converted to Kindle (*.azw)

 

kindlegen (command line tool), and Kindle Previewer, free from Amazon can be downloaded from http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000234621

Issues of eBook reading & accessibility to all type of people

This list of bullet points for consideration comes from blogger librarian, http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/library_babel_fish/not_sold_yet_on_ebooks
  • Will our students like using ebooks - at least as much as print?
  • Will we be able to choose books that fit our curriculum, or will we have to pay for books that are of no interest to us?
  • Do our students really want lots and lots of books, or would they rather we do some thoughtful curation on their behalf?
  • Will they be able to use the ebooks the way they want to, including easy access without having to download software or remember passwords and the ability to print select pages.
  • Will the books be accessible to people with limited vision?
  • Will they be platform-agnostic?
  • Will libraries be able to share these books the ways they previously did, through interlibrary loan?
  • Will the vendors who supply these ebooks protect them from censorship and guard patron privacy? Or preserve these books for future generations or allow someone else to do so?

  • Related thoughts come from Cathy Marshall's "Reading and Writing the Electronic Book" which pulls from Cathy's research in user experience and related areas.
    And her website carries additional ways of thinking on these things at http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/~marshall/pubs.html
     
     

    Other tools

    Tool for decompressing unencrypted Mobipocket files, http://www.mobileread.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=71538&d=1305728943
     

    More links

    100 things to do with eBook reader, http://sites.google.com/site/big1file/ebook100
    Care and feeding of your kindle (advice for newcomers), https://sites.google.com/site/anthroview/gokindle 
    Economic results of the Amazon model (low cost, high volume) by travel book writer 2015
     
    last updated 25 March 2012
    Subpages (2): ereader1st-steps nb-demers
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