Tools and Resources for Creating Ebooks

By Kullman (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kullman (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Ebooks are great. You can carry around as many with you as you’d like at one time, and you can easily share what you’re reading with friends. Ebooks are also the easiest way for indie authors to sell their work. For authors who are interested in making their own books, here’s a list of resources: Continue reading

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Displaying Ebooks in New Ways

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By Pebble Technology [CC BY-SA 1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s not just ebooks that are disrupting. Technology that displays ebooks is changing, which has led to some potentially creative new ways to read books, or at least to look at them.

On Publishing Perspectives, Bob Pritchett wrote about what needs to change in publishing, including the fact that the length of the book should not be tied to the genre, books should be able to keep changing (like Wikipedia), and authors should make efforts to have relationships with readers, the way musicians have relationships with fans.

With that in mind, here are some interesting projects that could potentially lead to new ways to display ebooks:

  • Kindle footwear. According to GoodeReader, there was an Indiegogo project by iShüu Technologies that uses eink for shoes. “You can control the patterns and colors via a mobile app and automatically change the color, based on your outfit.” It seems like you could, in theory, display the text of books on your shoes as well.
  • Smartwatches. Smartwatches have been around for a few years, but the recently released Pebble Time has color eink. A new way to read picture books, perhaps?
  • Flexible display. According to The Digital Reader, “The Graphene Center at Cambridge University, in partnership with PlasticLogic, […] revealed [last year] the first graphene-based flexible grayscale display.” The press released explained that “Graphene is a two-dimensional material made up of sheets of carbon atoms. It is among the strongest, most lightweight and flexible materials known, and has the potential to revolutionise industries from healthcare to electronics.”
  • Media rich ebooks. This one isn’t a new idea, but there was a successful Kickstarter campaign for Screentakes, an interactive script analysis. The first book had interactive graphics, and well integrated videos, photos, and charts, added in a way that forced the reader to interact with them.

Fun to think about, right?

New Ebook Fonts Make Ereading More Like Print

The average reader probably doesn’t think a lot about fonts, but they are important contributors to the reading experience.

A few weeks ago, Google announced a new typeface for Google Books, called Literata. The Next Web goes into more detail, but the gist is Google ebooks now have a font that distinguishes it from ebooks read on a Nook or Kindle, and it was created to give a better reading experience, with varied texture to make it more interesting. According to The Next Web, this font has been in the works since April 2014.

Interestingly, just a few days after Google announced its new font, Amazon announced Bookerly, the new font for Kindles. According to FastCoDesign, is a custom-made serif font that replaces Caecilia as the default font. The article says Amazon tested the font for increased legibility, reading speed, and reduced eyestrain–the article said, “According to Amazon’s internal tests, that means it’s about 2% easier on the eye.” Bookerly looks like a mix of Baskerville and Caecilia, and the new font will stand out with Kindle’s new layout engine, which makes the ebooks read a lot more like print books:

Even if you max out the font size on the new Kindle app, it will keep the spacing between words even, intelligently hyphenating words and spreading them between lines as need may be.

The layout engine also contains some beautiful new kerning options. They’re subtle, but once you see them, you can’t unsee them: for example, the way that the top and bottom of a drop cap on the Kindle now perfectly lines up with the tops and bottoms of its neighboring lines. Like I said, it’s a small detail, but one that even Apple’s iBooks and Google Play Books doesn’t manage to quite get right.

It sounds like Amazon was working on these developments for a while, so it’s probably coincidence that Literata and Bookerly came out around the same time.

What I find particularly interesting is that new technologies and designs are geared towards replicating the print experience. In many ways, it makes sense, and I wonder if these types of changes will convince people who love print to embrace digital.

What do you think? Please share in the comments!

Taking a Closer Look at Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 3.39.28 PMThere has been a lot of buzz lately around Kindle Unlimited, the latest service to enter the ebook subscription game. But what out of all the subscription services  I’d say that this one is the biggest game changer, and that’s because it’s an Amazon service.

After recently finishing Brad Stone’s The Everything Store, I have a feeling that right now, Kindle Unlimited is more of an experiment for Amazon, to test the waters of ebook subscriptions. They’ve probably been thinking about it for at least a year or two, when the phrase “Netflix for ebooks” started becoming popular. But like the other business models out there, I’m not sure it’s yet clear how profitable or successful subscriptions for ebooks are.

Amazon already has tried a few varieties of subscriptions, such as Kindle FreeTime Unlimited and even with the Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL). Kindle Prime users have access to KOLL, which allows them to borrow, for free, one ebook per month. The selection is fairly large, and it includes all ebooks authors have enrolled in the KDP Select Program. For those who may not know, authors who choose to upload and sell their ebooks on Amazon’s platform have the option to also enroll those books in KDP Select. KDP Select requires that the ebook be exclusive to Amazon for 90 day periods at a time, though that strategy no longer works as well for authors as it used to. Continue reading

E-Reading Reviews: A Roundup of the Latest E-Book Readers

By Tom Erik Dale – Sainsbury’s eBooks

With the holidays come new and improved e-readers, with better screens and more features to make reading more pleasurable. Tom Erik Dale, from Sainsbury’s eBooks, has written a helpful guide detailing the pros and cons of the three most popular new e-readers. Read on.

E-books are great. Not so much for swatting those off-putting flies, but for travel, convenience, space and geeky cool factor–they tick all the right boxes. Literary traditionalists will argue against me to the death claiming they signal the death of the book, but in reality it signals its renaissance. Endless books now sit patiently waiting at your fingertips, unrestricted by shelf space, finding time to get to a book store or what is in or out of stock.

With constant advances in the way e-books are read and a healthily competitive reader market we can be sure of even greater ways to enjoy e-books in the near future. For now though we take a look at the pros and cons of three newly released highly rated readers all around the £120 (~$195) mark. Continue reading

Kindle, Kindle, Kindle: Amazon’s Latest Publishing Tools

Kindle_countdownIn the last week, Amazon has made three big announcements, all of which I think have the potential to greatly help indie authors.

Continue reading

An Explanation of E-Book Formats

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If you are a self-published author or someone looking to do e-book conversions, it can feel daunting at first because there are so many different formats to worry about. The two main formats, however, are EPUB and Kindle’s proprietary format. EPUB can be used and read on Apple, Nook, Kobo, Sony, Google, and more devices, and Kindle’s format can only be read on Kindle devices. Here’s a breakdown of the EPUB and Kindle formats and what that means for developers and publishers: Continue reading

Self Publishing Platform Updates

In the last few months, a lot has changed with some of the major self-publishing channels, specifically Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Kindle

Aside from Amazon launching Kindle Worlds, which changes the way fan fiction is written and published, it also recently started publishing Kindle Single Interviews. The second interview will be with Obama. Additionally, when you publish via KDP and upload your e-book to sell, the program will automatically scan for misspelled words that you can easily go back and correct.

Nook

Barnes & Noble moved from PubIt to Nook Press, though it still has its issues. Personally, I preferred PubIt. Although Nook Press is a slicker platform, I don’t like the way it treats EPUBs. Sure, you can easily write/edit/format your e-book on Nook Press, and Nook will convert it to an EPUB file to sell on its site. But if you are taking the time to format your e-books on your own, which I like to do because it gives me more control over my book and looks more professional, it messes up the files. PubIt used to let me upload my own EPUB file, but Nook Press takes my already validated EPUB file and turns it into a messy EPUB file. It screws up some of my formatting and changes all the names of my HTML files, which makes it harder to edit later. Continue reading

Turning Your Blog into an E-Book

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I like to experiment, and recently I decided to try turning my blog into an e-book. Or more specifically, uploading my blog to Kindle as a subscription service.

There are many ways to turn a blog into an e-book, and in the future I may play around with some of them. But for now, the Kindle version was simple enough that I could set it up in a few minutes, and for the next few weeks I’ll be monitoring it to see if it’s worthwhile.  Continue reading