Sunday, November 8, 2009

Upcoming eBook Publishing Events

It seems like all of the biggest publishing conferences happen in the first part of the year, and I am planning to attend as many of them as I can. Some of them I'll be attending as a speaker, and some just as an attendee. If you are interested in meeting me face-to-face, please look me up at any of these events.

ATTENDING:
eBook Summit
eBook Summit
New York City — December 15-16, 2009

ATTENDING:
Digital Book World logo
Digital Book World
New York City — January 26-27, 2010

SPEAKING:
Tools of Change logo
Tools of Change for Publishing
New York City — February 22-24, 2010

SPEAKING:

Publishing Business Conference and Expo
New York City — March 8-10, 2010

SPEAKING:
WritersUA logo
WritersUA Conference
Seattle, WA — March 21-24, 2010

Related to all of these, I'd like to remind you that the Independent Author Cruise is shaping up to be a great time. I am pleased to be joining a great group of speakers as we explore self-publishing with authors from around the country. If you are interested in joining us on the cruise, the cost is quite reasonable. A small $25 deposit is due soon, so please visit the site and register now!

Indie Author Stem to Stern Workshop Cruise

Updated: I will be leading a discussion at the Publishing Business Conference and Expo. I just changed that listing above.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

eBook Architects Website Launch

The new website for my company, eBook Architects has now been launched. The company is an outgrowth of my Kindle formatting work, but it covers much, much more ground. eBook Architects offers conversion services to authors and publishers, converting books into Kindle/Mobipocket, ePub, eReader, and Smashwords-compliant files. We also provide much-needed advice and assistance to publishers who are trying to develop in-house conversion systems or design processes that can help them make their own eBook conversions easier.

In addition to these great eBook services, we have partnered with other providers to offer great deals on services commonly needed by independent authors, including subject index creation, proofreading, interior layout and typesetting, cover design, marketing, and website development. These services are all provided by professionals in their respective fields, with special rates or discounts for eBook Architects clients.

Please spread the word about our new website and about the great services we are offering. If you are in need of any eBook assistance, please don't hesitate to contact me. You can follow company news on Twitter (@ebookarchitects), and even become a fan of us on Facebook.

Oh, and KindleFormatting.com will continue to be a resource for anyone trying to figure out the Kindle format, as well as the central hub for information about my book, Kindle Formatting: The Complete Guide.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Kindle Formatting: The Complete Guide is now available

cover image

It's finally done! I have been working hard on my book for at least the last 6 months. I originally wanted to release it in October, but that fell through. Then I started eBook Architects and had no spare time to think. Then the Kindle 2 came out and I had to revise my information and expand some things.

As of this afternoon, it is now completely finished and up for sale. You can find out all the details in the new Book section of the website.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Free eBooks for Read an eBook Week

In honor of Read an eBook Week, some of my Kindle Formatting clients have graciously allowed me to offer their books as free downloads. The downloads are DRM-free Mobipocket files, which can be uploaded to an Amazon Kindle using the USB cable or via e-mail, or they can also be read on your PC or any other Mobipocket-supported device. Drop by the web page and take a look at the great titles that will be available next week!

http://kindleformatting.com/ebookweek.php

NOTE: These books will be available for download only during the week of March 8-14.


Update: The books are now up, and the number has increased to 29! Enjoy!

Update 2: The free eBook downloads promotion for Read an eBook Week was a great success! A total of 7,200 downloads were fulfilled, and more than 4,000 visitors came by the site. Thank you to all of the authors and publishers who allowed me to make their books available and to everyone who dropped by and supported the promotion.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Kindle on the iPhone

Amazon has announced the availability of Kindle for the iPhone. This new iPhone and iPod Touch application has the ability to sync up with the books you have purchased on the Kindle via Whispersync, so you can continue reading when you don't have your Kindle around. I just wanted to make sure you all know about this great option that increases the sales opportunities for authors and publishers publishing on the Kindle. There are instructions in Amazon's help files.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kindle 2 Review, the Formatting Perspective

There have been a couple of really good Kindle 2 reviews in the last day or two, including Alexander Falk's, which I found to be a good overview of the changes and adjustments in the K2. What I am going to bring you now is a review of the formatting and book display changes that come to us in the new device, some of which are great and some of which are just going to cause frustration. I'm going to list them in no particular order.

Line height: The line height on the K2 has been reduced, allowing more text to show up on the screen. This equates to about 4 more lines of text on the screen at font size 3.


click for full-size

Font clarity and size: The new 16-level grayscale screen, in addition to making images clearer, has made the Kindle font (Caelicia) show up a bit better on the screen. That actually makes the font a little bit lighter, from what I can tell, but it does not make it significantly less readable. It does appear as you compare the two screens that the font on the Kindle 2 is just a tiny bit smaller than the same size font on the Kindle 1. I have compared the font sizes in screen shots, and it does not appear to actually be smaller. However, there are a few places where a size difference definitely does stand out, most noticeably the size of the bullets in unordered lists.

Indentation: On the Kindle 1 the first-line indentation for paragraphs is .25 inches and the left indentation for blockquotes and lists is in .5 inch increments. That allows three full indentation levels and part of a fourth before the text is too scrunched up and the indentation just stops happening. On the Kindle 2 the blockquote and list indentation has been reduced to .25 inches, allowing five full indents and part of a sixth before stopping.

Em units are smaller: On the Kindle 1, em-units (a measurement that equals the height of the font at the current size) are about twice as large as they should be, but on Kindle 2 they have been reduced to the correct size. On both devices the em-unit size does change properly with the user's font size adjustments.

Justification wrapping: The Kindle automatically fully justifies the text in books unless the creator explictly overwrides that setting. On the Kindle 2 there seems to be a bug that does not spread the text of a line out to the end if there is a certain amount of space already between the words. So, if a larger word wraps to a new line the text before it may not be flush with the right margin. This is apparently only a big issue at the larger font sizes, but it does show up periodically at the sizes 3 and below.

Broken Justification: This next one is a pretty important bug that I hope gets addressed soon. On the Kindle you can override the default first-line indentation on paragraphs by assigning a width="0" to the paragraph or by giving it a text-indent:0 CSS style. You can also use other numbers in those values to precisely manage the first-line indentation in the file.

The problem is that any time you use either of those commands the Kindle 2 will assign a left justification to the paragraph instead of retaining the default full justification. This bug poses a significant problem for formatting since no-indent paragraphs are used on a regular basis in books. For example, in many books the first paragraph under a heading is given a no-indent style. Unless the entire book is formatted in a left-aligned style, those paragraphs will stand out significantly.

It should also be noted that the option to turn on or off justification, which is available in the K1 with a hidden command in the font size menu, is not available in the K2, as far as I can tell.

Image Dimensions: The dimensions of the space available on the Kindle screen for book content (both text and images) has changed a bit with the new device. First, you should be aware that since the release of the Kindle 1 the typical answer on the DTP forums has been to make full-page images 450px by 550px. However, on the K1 the available screen area is actually 524px by 640px. Images smaller than that but larger than 261px by 319px will be upscaled to fill the screen area in width or height. This automatic adjustment can have a negative effect on the quality of the image, so it is best to size images at the actual dimensions of the available screen area.

On the K2, the available screen area is 520px by 622px. This is an odd size difference, but the best approach is to size images with the smaller K2 content area in mind.

HTML Tables: One of the biggest complaints about the K1 has been that it does not support tables. This complaint was made more pointed by the fact that tables are supported in Mobipocket, which is the foundational format of Kindle books. Well, the K2 displays tables, even handling them the same way Mobipocket does, by allowing the user to scroll the table horizontally when it is wider than the screen area.

Strikethrough: The K2 has a small change in the placement of the strikethrough line as seen in the image here.



Overall, the changes in the Kindle 2 seem to be aimed at making the text easier to read and easier on the eyes. The line height changes look good, and seem to handle superscripts and subscripts better. The justification issues will be annoying for formatting needs, but should be easy to fix with a firmware update. I really would love to see the Kindle 1 get table support, but unless or until that happens I will continue to use images. The 500,000 or so Kindle 1 users out there will appreciate that, I suspect.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Interview on Teleread

Kat Meyer, the Bookish Dilettante and book marketing guru, interviewed me for her new "The Digitizers" column on Teleread. She also had some very flattering words to say about me and the work I do at her own blog. Thanks very much Kat!

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Now Accepting Credit Cards

credit cards imageI am pleased to announce that KindleFormatting.com now accepts credit cards and electronic checks. The option to pay in these ways is available in the Billing Manager invoicing system. Rest assured that your private information is kept private in this system. I never see your credit card or bank information, and Intuit, the company behind Billing Manager is well-respected, with a long history providing valuable tools like QuickBooks, TurboTax, and Quicken. You can read their Privacy Policy here.

Also, be aware that eBook Architects LLC is the official company behind KindleFormatting.com, so all of the billing is now directed through that entity. If you have any questions about this or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact me. Keep an eye out in the future for other great services and opportunities from eBook Architects and KindleFormatting.com!

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Kindle Firmware version 1.2

Amazon is pushing out an update to the Kindle firmware that includes a few important and interesting features. The 1.2 firmware update is being pushed out to coincide with today's announcement of the Kindle 2.

The update apparently includes three changes that are important to my Kindle Formatting clients and other interested parties. The first is a zoom feature for images. If you click next to an image using the scroll wheel, the Kindle will make the image fill the page, even rotating it if the image is wider than it is tall. This is a useful feature that was previously only available to some books using the black-box Topaz format.

The second feature is the addition of a mono-spaced font that can be used for code sections. This is great for technical publications, and will be a feature I use in the Kindle version of my upcoming book.

The third feature is the ability to use Greek characters in Kindle books. This is a welcome addition, especially for the scientific publishers I work with, but I have not been able to figure out how to get it to work yet.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Author on Kindle Chronicles

I just wanted to make a quick note that an author I recently helped with a Kindle conversion will be the guest on this week's Kindle Chronicles podcast. Staton Rabin, author of a number of good reads, recently published a biography of Buddy Holly, the legendary Rock n' Roll star, on the Kindle. Be sure to listen to her interview and take a look at her book.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Brain dump

I have been pretty busy (as always!), but I figured it was time to pass along some links I have been collecting and some news about what is new at Kindle Formatting.
  1. I have finally finished the first draft of my book, and I am expecting the proof copy back from the printer Tuesday. My lovely wife is going to proof it for me and I am going to look it over and ensure that everything is up to snuff. Barring any problems, the book should be in print no later than the first week of February. I will probably release the Kindle version before that point, and I might even be offering snippits or chapters on this website as free downloads. Stay Tuned!
  2. I have been doing Kindle conversions for over a year now, and I have decided to make this business my full-time job. As with any other entrepreneur I am a bit anxious about stepping away from the comfort of corporate covering, but I believe very strongly that I can be a greater asset to authors and publishers if I can focus more attention on the services I am offering. Please let me know if you have any projects for me or need any assistance dealing with eBooks of any type.
  3. Foxit Software, a company that makes a PDF viewing product designed to replace Adobe Acrobat, has decided to submit an entry into the eBook device field. From what I can tell, the eSlick just looks like a PDF-reading device, not a robust eBook reader. The specs say that it supports PDF and TXT only, and that it comes with a converter (Foxit Pro, I assume) that will let you print files to a PDF so they can be loaded on the device. What about ePub? Or Mobipocket? Is it really that hard to support eBook standards that are more commonly available than PDFs? I could see PDFs being a big deal for a 8x10 inch device, where the screen more closely matches the size of the print document, but the eSlick is still only the same size as the Kindle. Overall, not worth the cost.
  4. David Rothman over at Teleread has sent out a call for an open source eBook development solution. I like the idea of his ePubWriter, even though I have to question the need within the actual publishing world. Most publishers are using InDesign, and, to be honest, I think most of them are not using that to its full potential. However, ePubWriter would actually be a boon to the growing number of independent authors out there looking for an easy way to get their book in print and in the various e-versions. Any open source developers care to heed the call? I'd be interested in heading up the project if we can pull enough developers together.
  5. Adrian Graham wrote an interesting history of eBooks over the last 10 years. Informative reading.

That's all for now!

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rand McNally

Rand McNally, the well-known atlas company, has released three atlases for the Kindle: Washington State, Southern California, and Northern California. I was pleased to help in the design and implementation of these great books, and I think they exemplify the possibilities that are available on the Kindle for those with the courage and know-how to pursue them. Here is a screenshot from the Washington State Road Atlas:

Washington State Road Atlas

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Kindle Chronicles

I forgot to mention this in my post yesterday, but I am going to be on the Kindle Chronicles podcast this Friday. Len Edgerly is a great guy, and his Kindle podcast is a real benefit to the community. If you have never listened before, take a look through the archives and see the great people he has interviewed already. Then make sure to listen to the podcast Friday!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

TOC conference tutorial

Sorry for the continued silence here at KindleFormatting.com. I have been swamped with formatting work (that is never a bad thing) and working hard to get my book finished as soon as I can.

I do have some great news to tell you, though. I have been asked to teach a 1-hour tutorial on formatting books for the Kindle at the O'Reilly Tools of Change (TOC) conference in February. If you are going to be at the conference or in New York in February, please drop by and listen in!

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Featured in The IndieAuthor Guide

April L. Hamilton has written a great book on publishing for independent authors called Featured in The IndieAuthor Guide: A Comprehensive Reference to Self-Publishing and Managing Your Career In Indie Authorship, and just released the Kindle version of the book today. She was also kind enough to mention KindleFormatting.com and my formatting services in the book, for which I am very grateful. If you are an independent author who is looking for information about publishing your book, you should definitely check out April's book. You can also find some excerpts of the book on her website.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Amazon Kindle FAQ

I teamed up with a publisher I have been producing books for lately to create the first ever Amazon Kindle FAQ eBook. While this is not the same as Windwalker's much-discussed Kindle guide, it is over 200 questions that have been asked, re-asked, and re-re-asked over the last 10 months about what the Kindle does and how to make it work for you. It is priced low (only $1.59 with Amazon's discount), so please drop by and add it to your library.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Kindle 2.0 confirmed!

An analyst with inside contacts at Amazon has confirmed that the company is working on "several new, improved versions of the Kindle," specifically a text-book sized version. What does that mean for you as an author? More possibilities! And rest assured that KindleFormatting.com will be there to help you get your book ready for publication, whether it is a textbook or not.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The first eBooks Podcast

Well, it is official, there is now a podcast devoted solely to eBooks, and yours truly is one of the fearless hosts. eBook Ninjas promises to be a great combination of news, commentary, and even debate about every aspect of the eBook world. The shows may be a bit sporadic, but they are bound to be informative. The first podcast was only 10 minutes long, but the second one is about 30 minutes. That will probably be the normal length of future shows depending on how much we have to say.

Speaking of which, if you have a suggestion or a question you would like answered on the podcast, please drop by the site and send us an e-mail. We would love to have some listener input!

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Monday, July 28, 2008

ArmadilloCon!

Itching to meet me in person? I will be attending ArmadilloCon here in Austin, Texas, our own little SciFi convention. It will be my first time at a convention like this, so I am very excited to meet new people and hopefully help some authors get their books onto the Kindle. I'll be running a table on Friday afternoon and all day Sunday, so please stop by and say hello!

Update: Looks like I spoke too soon. There were still tables available when I wrote this post, but apparently they went quickly. I am on a waiting list for now, and I may still attend the conference on Sunday.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cheap, open source web tablet with ebook capabilities?

The guys over at TechCrunch have decided that it is high time we had a small, lightweight web tablet that does not cost an arm, a leg, and a firstborn child. The idea they came up with is to design a whole system from the ground up, including developing the operating from Linux or BSD with an integrated Firefox browser and other software, and designing the hardware, and then to open source the whole thing so that anyone can build it.

They are looking for ideas, investors, and help in the design, so if you are interested in making it happen, go sign up! I sent the main developer an e-mail with the suggestion that they integrate some sort of eBook reader into the mix, preferably Mobipocket (though that would have to run in Wine). This type of device would be perfect for reading eBooks, including school textbooks, etc.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kindle 2.0?

The Kindle world is abuzz with rumors that Amazon will be releasing a new version of the Kindle by October. CrunchGear has the full story. What do you think? Have you been holding out on purchasing a Kindle with the hope that they will come out with a re-designed version? Do you think they will have the same fulfillment issues they had the first time around? Any guesses on the new features that will come with the device? Personally, I hope some firmware changes are on the way, as well as native support for PDF and ePUB standards.

Update: Oops... Forgot to link to CrunchGear.

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