How easy is it to produce an ePub book—either your own or a public domain work—and spread it around the globe?
This topic is more than just grist for a post. I wanted to give the planet a quick preview of The Solomon Scandals in the standard IDPF format. And, if, along the way, people could also download Mobipocket and PDF versions of the three-chapter sample, not just ePub, then so much the better.
Easy to learn
Now, having tried the publishing tool at Feedbooks, I can say that it’s as easy to master as I’d hoped—at least if I want to stick to standard formatting. I’m unworried about frills in my case, even though ePub allows plenty for those who need them.
My Feedbooks file isn’t a heavily illustrated medical textbook, but rather an excerpt from a novel without photos.
The Stanza-iPhone connection
But I do want the sample from Scandals to be readable easily on an iPhone by way of Stanza, the most popular e-reading app for the iP and iPod Touch. Now, thanks to Feedbooks’ integration with Stanza, it is. Check it out for yourself.
From Stanza’s Library screen, just go to the Online Catalog, pick Original Books and Stories, then call up Recent Additions, and you’ll most likely see a screen showing Scandals’ cover. In case Scandals is no longer in RA, you can also search by title or my name. Or you can click for the next screen.
A few how-tos
But how to get your book in Feedbooks’ system, in ePub and other formats? The key is to follow the documentation and structure your book in components as Feedbooks suggests. You’re actually better off creating the skeleton of the book before you load it up with actual text.
For example, you an specify Parts—such as Part I—and chapters within them. Feedbooks provides lines along the left edge of the screen so you can see how the different components relate to each other.
Quick trip between views
I also like the interface’s ease of snapping back and forth between draft and a semi-WYSIWYG mode. A quick click will do the trick. You can also slip, almost instantly, into previews in Adobe Digital Editions, a PDF-only reader or Mobipocket.
Of course, ePub is the format of most interest to me, and Feedbooks has done the e-book community a real service in using it a the flagship format. Let me also praise Smashwords and BookGlutton for their own ePub efforts. Yes, there will be technical challenges along the way, but at least those sites are trying—which is really in the interest of readers and publishers alike. TeleRead’s Chris Meadows has shown us how Amazon may very well be sitting on a Mobi reader for the iPhone. And that’s the kind of world we’ll get if proprietary formats prevail, whether from Amazon, Apple or ScrollMotion. Time for the Kindle and ScrollMotion to do ePub!
While some ePub backers such as Adobe continue to wrap up books in DRM, they’re still one step closer to format nirvana than Amazon is. Remember, the current Sony Readers uses Adobe software handle either unencrypted or nonencrypted ePub.
I see hope of major progress in e-book sales if publishers of all sizes work to make a large number and wide variety of books available without the taint and hassles of “protection.” That is the process that Feedbooks and others like BookGlutton and Smashwords are working to facilitate. Significantly, BG, too, shows up in Stanza’s catalog, Smashwords will soon if it isn’t there already, and Stanza is sure to have more e-commerce features.
Simply put, a whole new ecosystem for DRMless e-books is evolving with key players working together, and the end results for e-book-lovers should be much better than just Kindle-level simplicity alone. Readers also need to feel that they can own their books for real rather than relying on problematic DRM-dependent access in the Kindle vein.
Reminder from Feedbooks: The Scandals excerpts will also be available via Feed’s Kindle Guide, not just on the company’s site and via Stanza.
Detail related to the second image: Nope, David Rothman isn’t a pseudonym—it’s my real name (and other people’s, too). I was merely testing out possibilities.