Ugly Duckling Presse Publishing Perspectives reports on a nonprofit poetry publisher, Ugly Duckling Presse, who wanted to try out e-books but weren’t comfortable with the idea of making complete books available for download. Instead they have gone with Issuu, a Flash-based platform that makes the books available in their entirety only on Ugly Duckling’s website.

For now, they are using it for chapbooks rather than full-length novels, given that chapbooks are shorter and tend to stay out of print once available supplies are used up. The books are getting relatively few views (about 100-150 per month), but given that they were originally published in editions of 400-500 copies, those views soon add up to more Internet reads than print copies sold.

The article enumerates some of the drawbacks to a Flash-based format, including the fact that it can’t be read on Apple mobile devices such as the iPhone or iPad. (I would point out that it can’t be read on most e-book reading devices that rely on downloaded content, either.) Also, searching on specific content leads to the Issuu website where Issuu content is indexed, rather than to Ugly Duckling Presse itself.

James Copeland, Ugly Duckling’s Managing Director, says they’re not “married” to the format—since they’re a small company they can make changes relatively quickly.

I suppose it takes all kinds of e-books, but I must admit that I’m not all that crazy about e-books that can only be read on-line from one specific website. It eliminates some of e-books’ chief advantages, such as their read-anywhere nature.


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