Showing posts with label ebooks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ebooks. Show all posts

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Gamone Press

A new publishing house is about to emerge: Gamone Press. Our first title will be a paper book: A Little Bit of Irish — My Mothers' People in Australia.

Published by Gamone Press, this book will be marketed internationally by the giant UK-based IngramSpark organization.

Our second title will be a rather technical manual explaining, not surprisingly, how the first title came into existence.

After that, there’ll be another genealogical document: They Sought the Last of Lands — My Father's Forebears. And this will be followed by a paper edition of the novel All the Earth Is Mine associated with an official eBook version.

Other publications will follow at a modest rate. In particular, there'll be my long-awaited update on the Skeffingtons:

In this way, I shall be in a position to publish all that I have to say as a writer, while avoiding to get screwed by unscrupulous capitalists.

Furthermore, I'll no longer have to go through the boring process of attempting to convince dull employees of established publishing houses that I have something to say.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Electronic versions of my novel

I seem to be moving towards the completion of the adventure of having my novel All the Earth is Mine published as an electronic book. I first tackled this question on June 2 by placing the following request in the Apple discussions forum concerning the Pages word-processing software tool:

Please point me to explanations concerning the transformation of a Pages document (a novel) into ePub format for the iPad.

Even though the two elements of my naive request (Pages and iPad) were located in pure Apple territory, the few replies were wishy-washy, as if nobody knew exactly how to advise me. Most likely, there were people who did in fact know the Pages/iBooks situation perfectly well, but they refrained deliberately from trying to guide me. In any case, I had the impression (and still do) that I was setting foot in a constantly-emerging domain, where little is hard and fast yet.

Since iBooks use the open ePub format, I started to examine its technical specifications, and investigate the tools and resources that might enable me to implement an iPad version of my novel. At that stage (middle of June), I didn't yet own an iPad, but I downloaded a free tool named Adobe Digital Editions that lets you read ePub documents on your everyday computer.

For a few days, I experimented with the idea of using the iPad as a platform for genealogical documents such as They Sought the Last of Lands, but I soon discovered that things get messy when you try to display densely-structured genealogical documents on anything other than a nice big computer screen, so I abandoned that idea.

On the other hand, I soon created an acceptable ePub version of All the Earth is Mine running on the above-mentioned Adobe emulator. Mastering the ePub format turned out to be much easier than what I might have imagined. Still, this experimenting didn't bring me any closer to the underlying pragmatic question of how I might get my novel accepted by Apple as a genuine iBooks publication.

A breakthrough took place when I struck up a relationship with a much talked-about Californian aggregator (intermediary between authors and the various eBook platforms) named Smashwords, run by a friendly and helpful guy named Mark Coker. I decided to collaborate with this firm. Now, there are three basic facts that a Smashwords author needs to know:

1 — An author doesn't pay Smashwords explicitly, but the company takes a cut of actual book sales.

2 — Smashwords uses a robotic converter tool named Meatgrinder, which produces output in several formats, for Apple's iPad, Amazon's Kindle, etc.

3 — The input supplied to Smashwords by a would-be author must be presented in the form of a technically-impeccable Microsoft Word file.

At the start of of my relationship with Smashwords, the third point almost floored me. Really, for an author like me who masters the ePub format (not to mention many elegant word-processing systems), must I really get back to using that archaic gas plant called Word? I was a hair's breadth away from telling Smashwords that I thought they were joking, and that I would look for a more sophisticated aggregator. But, since I didn't wish to be thought of as snobbish or bigoted, I went along with Mark Coker's suggestion of shelling out a hundred bucks to obtain a nice new copy of Word. [That was the first time in my life I've ever paid a cent to Microsoft. Several decades ago, when I used to do freelance journalistic assignments, it was rather the marketing folk of Microsoft who invited me on a helicopter ride to a luncheon in a fabulous castle in the Parisian region. But times have changed.]

Today, I understand that, if Smashwords demands an impeccable Word document as their launch platform for publishing, it's for two reasons:

1 — Word is indeed a high-quality word-processing tool, used universally, and

2 — Smashwords produces several different electronic varieties of each book they process, which means that they require a firm starting-point.

As of today, I can read a Smashwords version of the novel on my iPad:

A Smashwords version of the novel looks fine on my Amazon Kindle:

Apparently, there's another version that works on the Sony device. So, as an author, I can't complain about the ubiquity of the Smashwords approach towards electronic publishing. Let's see, now, what happens from a marketing and sales viewpoint…

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Published by an aggregator

A few weeks ago, I'd never even heard of this newfangled word "aggregator". It sounds like a good chemical name for the kind of product that thickens soups and sauces (such as potato starch, which I use constantly). Apparently, modern usage has hit upon this excellent term to designate websites that bring together, for a specific reason, data from a multiplicity of other Internet sources. For example, Apple is using this word to designate a handful of selected websites whose role consists of channeling in all kinds of budding authors who would like to see their work published as iBooks to be read on the iPad. Today, in the case of my novel All the Earth is Mine, I find myself collaborating with such an aggregator… whose name has an American sledgehammer charm:

I wrote the final version of my novel using the sturdy Pages word-processing tool… which doesn't do much, but does it well. (That's the same friendly software I use for my genealogical monographs.) I tried vainly for years years to find an Anglo-American publishing house or literary agency that would deign to read my novel. I still don't understand why these tentatives were doomed to failure (it had nothing to do with the quality of my writing, which nobody ever got around to examining), but I've noticed that there's some kind of a Berlin Wall between the Anglo-American book-publishing world and our homely French maisons d'édition (publishing houses). For example, as recently as yesterday, I was amazed and furious to discover that it's impossible for a French resident such as me to buy Apple iBooks from England or America. Once again, I don't understand why… but it surely has something to do with a book-based cultural conflict between the New World and France. In any case, in the context of such a crazy war, I have no intention of enlisting as a soldier and donning proudly a uniform, as I would surely be mowed down stupidly in the trenches by the first blast of shrapnel.

I finally decided that so-called electronic self-publishing might be the best (indeed, only) approach for getting my novel into print. Last year, for months on end, I tried to urge readers of this blog to download (free) and evaluate a PDF version of my novel. Curiously, that tentative earned me zero feedback… which simply means, I imagine, that readers of Antipodes prefer blogs to novel, which is understandable.

At the beginning of June, I posted the following question in an Apple forum dedicated to the Pages tool:

Please point me to explanations concerning the transformation
of a Pages document (a novel) into ePub format for the iPad.

There were few reactions, and even fewer useful replies. There was even a massive dose of unadulterated twaddle from kind individuals who've made it their personal mission to reply rapidly, summarily and superficially to anything and everything that appears on the forum. [Hi Peter, Chris and Tom.] I had the impression that people who write stuff using Pages don't really intend to get themselves published. On the other hand, I became aware of the existence of a community of talented individuals (mostly women), specialists in page design and typesetting, who use the sophisticated Adobe InDesign product (which I know and adore; it's the page creator's Ferrari). But that's not really my kettle of fish. I have simple novelistic words waiting to get published. I'm not faced with the challenge of designing ads or magazine pages. So, I rapidly put a personal cross on that approach. (Do English-speaking people use that metaphor about putting a cross on something, or am I using Frenglish?)

Meanwhile, I discovered that it was not at all arduous to transform manually my novel into the celebrated Epub format fit for publication by iBooks. (The adverb "manually" doesn't really mean manually. It indicates merely that, instead of calling upon a hypothetically magic conversion tool, I carried out all the nitty-gritty conversion stuff myself, based upon my understanding of the various ePub/iBooks technical specifications, protocols and constraints… which I now master ideally.)

My attempts at creation of an ePub version of my novel were highly positive. The final product exists, and it looks good when viewed either on the Adobe simulator [download] or on a real-life iPad. Besides, I offer Antipodes readers a free copy of Earth.epub. Just give me your email address.

For the moment, I'm awaiting developments in the relationship between me and my aggregator. From an aesthetic design and typesetting point of view, the present state of my novel at Smashwords is frankly catastrophic. The book looks as if it has been typeset by a low-IQ monkey or an "intelligent " robot. Naturally, I've expressed my alarm to SmashWords. And I've volunteered to help out, if necessary. Normally, SmashWords people should know more about ePub and iBooks than I do. But the major question remains: Is SmashWords prepared to correct and beautify their ugly robotic version of my novel before (and if) they propose it to Apple? Let's see what happens…

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Another cover design

Friends have pointed out various small but annoying problems of interpretation (which I hadn't suspected) with the cover projects I presented in my recent post entitled Cover for All the Earth is Mine [display]. Here's another simple idea, based upon a fragment of one of the wonderful paintings of the Holy Land by David Roberts, showing Jerusalem's Turkish minaret known as the Tower of David.

On the iPad, the novel will be displayed in double-page format. So, what you see here is the cover and the title page, side by side.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ebook version of a genealogical document

Yesterday, I decided to carry out a hands-on test concerning the idea of distributing genealogical stuff in ebook format. So, instead of wasting my time witnessing the fact that "there's nothing like the Socceroos", I spent my evening building an ebook version of chapter 7 of my monograph entitled They Sought the Last of Lands. Click the following image to download it:

I believe that you should be able to transfer the downloaded file to an iPad, but I haven't tested this possibility (because I don't yet own an iPad). Otherwise, you can click the following banner to obtain a free copy of the Adobe Digital Editions software tool, which will enable you to read my file comfortably:

Unfortunately my test was not exactly conclusive. Indeed it was disappointing in the sense that the challenge of creating such an ebook turns out to be quite messy and time-consuming from a layout point of view. I had to readjust the sizes of many of the images and genealogical charts, and attempt to implement all kinds of vertical spacing tricks, but I'm still not satisfied with the aesthetic results. Worse still, after all these messy operations, I'm left with an ugly set of complicated code files, which would not be easy to update.

My conclusion? For the time being, I think it's preferable for me to stick to the conventional method of distributing my genealogical chapters in the form of .pdf files.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New bed companion

After spending an evening warming my toes in front of the fireplace, I can now jump into bed with an exciting new companion.

The Kindle is the electronic device proposed by Amazon. I've started to read Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. It's certainly an elegant solution for reading in bed, since the device is so light that you hardly notice it.

By coincidence, on the same day the Kindle arrived (directly from the USA, with an American power plug necessitating a European adapter), the Barnes & Noble company announced their Nook reader, which has the advantage of displaying color.

I'm aware that this new field will no doubt evolve rapidly. In deciding to purchase a Kindle, I want to get a feel for the subject, to know what it's all about. In particular, I want to learn how to transform my personal writing into an e-readable format. I was thrilled to discover that certain software tools make it easy to transform PDF files into a format that allows them to be displayed on the Kindle. So, I've started to play around with a free Macintosh tool named Calibre with the intention of producing a Kindle version of my novel All the Earth is Mine.