Over at Tech Whirl, Keith Soltys has a long interview with Joshua Tallent (pictured). Joshua is a super guy and was one of the first people to get into the ebook formatting business. Now he is the recognized guru in this arena. Here’s the beginning:
During WritersUA, TechWhirl’s Keith Soltys sat down with Joshua Tallent, founder of eBook Architects to discuss the present and future of eBooks, the state of the technology, and how much the technical communication and eBook trade publishing fields can learn from each other to produce good, readable, accessible content.
Keith Soltys (KS): Why don’t you start by telling us about yourself and your company?
Joshua Tallent (JT): I got my start in eBooks in 2002. I started out working at a software company that makes bible study software in the Christian bible software market. I got my start there doing eBook development for them and that’s where I learned HTML and CSS. It was kind of a fortuitous event. I got to learn everything on the job and I got to learn a lot about eBook development from that perspective, which is very unique in the eBook world. It’s not to the minimal level you see trade eBooks – it’s much more in depth; there are lots of metadata and taxonomies built into the eBook files and very proprietary HTML and CSS approaches to things.
KS: I’ve seen some web-based bibles that are very good in terms of the cross referencing and annotations and so on. I’ve got a fairly nice one on my Kindle as well.
JT: It’s a great opportunity for the rest of the eBook world to learn something from that community. Bible software’s been around since 1980; in fact, before Microsoft Office or even before Windows came out. It got started back in the DOS days. I worked at that company for six years. About a year before I quit the big event was the Kindle coming out. One of the board members came to the end-of-year meeting and said, “Hey, this is the new device from Amazon. It’s kind of neat and everybody should be aware that this is coming down the path.” I played with it for a couple of minutes, built my first Kindle book in about 30 minutes, and I was hooked.
I was able to take some time and learn the Kindle format over the next month or two and just though that I could make a little bit of extra money on the side. So I put up my shingle, put up KindleFormatting.com as a little side business, and over the next nine months or so and it grew and grew into a really healthy side business. By the next year, I didn’t have any reason not to take it full time – it was already taking 30 hours a week in addition to my regular job.