Mobile is the next wave of technology. Smartphones now outsell PCs and laptops. This trend isn’t going to reverse anytime soon. Meanwhile, the introduction of the Amazon Kindle has revolutionized the portable e-reader industry and sales of e-readers of all flavors are at all-time highs. Providing your books and ebooks in formats better suited to these smaller screens will win you favor with your readers and introduce new readers to your ideas.
The Truth about PDF
Portable document format (pdf) is a page-layout format designed in 1993 to ensure that a document looked the same regardless of the viewer. When the computer monitor ruled supreme for viewing digital data, this was a great idea, but its time has passed and its strengths are now its weaknesses. In 1993, the average monitor was 13″ and had a resolution of 600×800. In contrast, the Kindle has a 6″ screen, and the iPhone has 320×480 resolution. That’s just 1/3 the screen real estate as what was envisoned for the pdf.
When viewing a pdf of these smaller screens, there are generally three options:
- Magnifying glass
- Pan & Zoom (lots of scrolling)
- Reflowing (similar to word-wrap, but most free or low-cost pdf creators don’t properly support the features that allow this to work)
When Amazon introduced the Kindle, it opted to use the Mobipocket format. Mobipocket was an early e-reader format originally designed for PDAs. It supports text reflowing, text resizing, images, bookmarks, highlighting, and table of contents. The Nook from Barnes & Noble operates on the IDPF standard epub. Epub is also the format used by the Sony Reader, Google Books, Stanza, and Apple’s iBooks for iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad. Epub supports text reflowing, text resizing, images, bookmarks, CSS, and table of contents.
A Word about DRM
DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It’s purpose is to limit unauthorized uses of a file (such as pirating). Amazon ebooks with the AZW extension are mobipocket books with Amazon’s proprietary DRM. Epub supports DRM with Adobe ADEPT. I do not provide files with DRM for two reasons. For one, it is either costly (Adobe’s Content Server, which handles ADEPT, costs $1500/year + usage fees) or not possible (Amazon has not released any tools for their DRM). For two, it just doesn’t work.
Books have been pirated as long as they have existed. First it was with hand-copying, then photo-copying, and scanning. Meanwhile, DRM protections all get hacked, usually sooner than later. DRM tends to frustrate ordinary users who want to do ordinary things, rather than those interested in freely distributing your work. Besides, sales of non-DRM files are just as robust, if not more so, than for DRM’ed files. Removing the DRM from songs sold in iTunes certainly hasn’t hurt Apple! For more thoughts on DRM, please read Cory Doctorow’s Content, available for free and in multiple formats.
Ebook files were designed for small screens. The designers realized that they could have no clue how big the screen for a given reader was. It could be the three-inch screen of a phone or a 22 inch computer monitor. The name of the game is flexibility. Certain things you may be used to using to control flow, such as tables or text boxes, just don’t work. Give me your manuscript, and I will take the guess-work and the learning curve out of producing well-styled ebook documents.
When you send your manuscript, I will go through the entire manuscript and change the formatting to follow the guidelines and specifications common to all ebook types. I will include a copyright page (using whichever copyright you wish, standard, Creative Commons, GPL, etc) and create the Table of Contents. Step three is creating the actual files. Each file will be checked with the proper validation tools (epub uses a tool called epubcheck, Amazon’s kindlegen software is used for mobi files). I will provide two files. 1)the mobipocket file with .mobi extension. 2)the epub file with .epub extension. If you do wish a PDF of your ebook I can do that as well.
To get started, use the contact form.
Accepted File Types:
MS Word files (doc, docx), OpenOffice Writer (odt), and Rich Text (rtf)
$1/1000 words for first 25,000 words. $0.75/1000 words after.
To get started, use the contact form.
Interior Print Layout (Print Formatting)
After self-publishing (or having SEAM Publishing publish) your ebook, the next step in getting your book into the hands of readers is Print-on-demand. Print-on-demand is self-publishing for physical books. Gone are the days of having to have a hundred or more books printed at a time and hope you can sell them all. Now, you can have a POD distributor print out a single copy each time someone buys your book and ship it directly to them.
That said, POD distributors have very precise formatting rules for books. The first time I formatted a manuscript for print on demand it took me 10 hours to get it right! Let someone with experience handle it for you and save your time for the business of writing more books.
PDF for Print-on-demand: $2.50/1000 words for first 100,000 words and $1.50/1000 words after.
Multi-book discount: If you have more than one book to convert, your word count continues from one book to the next. It doesn’t matter whether both manuscripts are ready now, or the second isn’t ready until next week, month, year, or even decade.
“Blogger” discount: If you mention using my services on your blog or website, get 20% (up to $25) off your purchase price.
Certain “features” of your manuscript could take extra time to format into ebook friendly styling. If you book has any of the following issues, there will be an extra charge for converting:
- Non-supported file format (If you only have have your manuscript in a file not listed above, such as pdf, HTML, WordPerfect, Pages, or Works) – $25
- Columns – $10
- Manual hyphenation – $10
- Large number of images (>10) – $.50/image
- text boxes or tables – $.50/each
- Special characters (beside © on copyright page) – $.50/each
- Mathematical equations – $1/each