Tag Archive | epub

eBookMall Publishing Review

publish your ebookseBookMall.com re-launched their publishing services sometime last month. Authors and publishers weren’t able to submit ebooks to be sold on their website for a while during the time that they were making big changes to their website. I was curious whether they’d changed their submission rules and whether they were in line with the current industry standards, so I signed up as an author to find out more about their system. All in all, their requirements and payments seem to be pretty comparable to most other indie services. The way you submit ebooks is a little different but pretty straightforward once you actually get into it. I’ll go over what I thought were the most important aspects below.

Overall Process

Here is the basic overall process for submitting ebooks to eBookMall.com:

  • Create an account on their website.
  • Email them at ‘submissions (at) ebookmall.com’ to let them know you’re interested in selling your ebooks on their website.
  • They send you a package of PDF documents. This includes the official Terms of Service, a guide to submitting ebooks, a guide to having your manuscript converted into ebook format, a guide to sending in author bios and photos, a spreadsheet that you use to organize your ebook data, and a PDF of codes so you can specify things like the category placement that you want.
  • You prepare your ebook files and email them in.
  • They add your ebooks to eBookMall.com

I thought that these PDF guides were very professionally formatted and easy to use. It is a lot of information to go over, but it’s pretty simple once you just start looking through it. It’s pretty much the same information that you’d get from other websites.

DRM

DRM is something that you’ll want to consider. If you submit your ebooks to eBookMall directly through this program, your ebooks will not have DRM. If you have your heart set on having DRM on your ebook downloads, you can still sell your ebooks at eBookMall but you have to do it through a third party: Ingram’s ‘Lightning Source’ ebook distribution (www.lightningsource.com). As far as I know, Lightning Source only accepts publishers, not individual authors, but it’s possible that has changed so you can always look into it. If you sell your ebooks through Lightning Source you can have them distributed out to a lot of ebook websites and they apply Adobe’s DRM to the downloads.

eBook Formats

eBookMall is only accepting PDF and ePub formats. They also used to sell Microsoft Reader and Mobipocket, but those formats have both gone by the wayside. Kindle ebooks are not accepted because Kindle ebooks are really only sold at Amazon.

Requirements/Restrictions

There were a couple restrictions that I noticed while reading through their documents:

First, they require that you are the copyright holder of the ebook (or represent the copyright holder) — they don’t accept any books that have expired into the public domain and they don’t accept ebooks that you can buy and then sell again (those ebooks with resell rights that are kind of junk content).

I also got the overall impression that they want your ebooks to look pretty professional. They probably wouldn’t accept ebooks that look sloppy or unfinished. This is good because you can assume that most ebooks you buy on their website will be good quality, but it might make it tougher for authors who don’t know much about how to create their own ebooks.

There are other minor details as well, like they require your cover images to be sent in as JPGs that are only vertically oriented (as most book covers are). Each ebook submitted has to be under 10 MB. Also, you can submit free ebooks but they will have to pass with stricter rules. Basically they just want to make sure that any submitted free ebooks don’t contain spam or very little value.

Submission Method

The way in which you actually submit your ebooks is a little different than on other websites. Instead of filling in a form online, they want you to prepare a spreadsheet. This might sound intimidating at first, but it’s basically all the same data that you’d type into an online form. I guess I see where they’re coming from with this method because you can use your spreadsheet to submit anywhere from 1 to 10,000 ebooks (or whatever their upper limit is – I didn’t see anything about that) and you don’t have to keep filling in the same form over and over. You’ll probably also be able to just copy&paste a lot of stuff.

In a nutshell, you just enter the standard information about your ebooks: title, author name, filenames of the ebook and cover image, price, categories, whether your file is printable or not, ISBN (not required), product description, and territories where you want the ebooks to be sold. You can limit this to specific countries or sell worldwide. Once you have all of this filled out, all you have to do is email them your spreadsheet, ebook files, and cover image files.

Percentage Earned

Authors will earn 50% of the sale price. This struck me as kind of low at first, but they also explain that they don’t charge any hidden fees. eBookMall pays for all credit card transaction fees, for example, so their half of the money is eaten up by basic business overhead costs. It might still end up being less than other websites, I’m not sure. Either way, my thought is that you can at least use them as another ebook outlet and earn something rather than nothing.

One restriction to consider is that they’re only paying via PayPal, so you’ll need a PayPal account. They provide live sales reporting so you can always login and check on your sales.

Publishing New eBooks

If you have a book manuscript you can get it converted into a PDF or ePub ebook. They provide a separate guide for this in the package of documents that you get. You have to send them your manuscript in a digital format such as Word, RTF, or Open Office Document. They say that this service starts at $69 but can be more, depending on the book. They don’t do any editing so you have to get that done yourself. They don’t have any specific regulations about page sizes, margins, fonts, etc, but request that you basically lay out your manuscript the way you want it to look when published. So this is a pretty basic service, more of a simple manuscript-to-ebook conversion than actual publishing. The same requirements about owning the copyright apply to this service, and they don’t accept public domain works. They only accept manuscripts written in English.

Go to ebookmall.com/publish-ebooks or Publish eBooks to get started.

10 Places To Get Free eBooks

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg has free downloads of public domain works in .txt .html and .epub formats. They were all created by volunteers over the past 15+ years.  These aren’t high quality digital books, but they are free and without DRM, so you can read them on just about any device.

Scribd

Scribd is a service where users can upload their own documents to share with others. You can download those documents or embed them into your website. Not all of the documents are books, but there are lots of books included.

GetFreeEbooks

This site has all legal free downloadable ebooks. I couldn’t find anything on the website saying which formats the ebooks are in, but my guess is that most are PDF.

eBookMall.com

This is a small but growing collection of free ebooks. Downloads are either PDF or ePub. Some are samples but most are full books by modern authors.

MemoWare

MemoWare has a ton of documents and files that are formatted for different devices. They used to advertize devices like Palm and Pocket PC, but now their website says their files also work on Kindle and Nook.

Free Kindle eBooks

Amazon has an entire section of their website with free Kindle ebooks.

Adobe Sample eBook Library

Adobe has a collection of free sample ebooks that you can download for Adobe Digital Editions. They are PDF and ePub formats.

eBookLobby.com

Free ebooks organized into categories. Some are online and some are links to other websites for a download.

Online Books Page

This is a big index of free books that you can find online or for download in PDF format. You could kind of consider it a Wikipedia for free ebooks.

Free online personality test

Here is a great free online personality test that will help you find out your personality type according to the Myers Briggs theory based on Jung.

Free-eBooks.net

With the free account option you can get access to HTML ebooks and up to 5 downloads in PDF or TXT.

eBook Terms for Newbies

With all of the work I do on a daily basis involving ebooks and the devices that read ebooks, it can be easy to forget that there are a lot of people out there that haven’t ever used an ebook. If you’re new to ebooks you might be totally confused and overwhelmed with all of the unfamiliar terms that are used. This list will give you an introduction to what you’re most likely to run into in today’s world of ebooks. Some of these terms reference each other, so just look elsewhere in this list for the explanation of terms in italics.

eBooks

Adobe Digital Editions – This is a program developed by the company Adobe (the same company that brought you Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat, as well as Photoshop and Flash, etc etc). This particular program is made specifically to work with Adobe’s DRM system for ebooks. It also lets you view PDF and ePub files. You can download Adobe Digital Editions here, and read more about it on my Adobe Digital Editions post.

Adobe ID – If you’re going to buy PDF or ePub ebooks from a website, those protected by Adobe’s DRM will require that you authorize your copy of Adobe Digital Editions with an Adobe ID. This is the same Adobe ID that you use if you purchase downloadable software from Adobe. It’s best to only use one Adobe ID so that you don’t mix up multiple accounts (doing that will result in ebook licensing errors). You can create an Adobe ID here.

Aldiko – Aldiko Book Reader is an app for ebook reading on Android smartphones and tablets. Download Aldiko here, and see my post about Aldiko here. Aldiko will read ebooks with Adobe DRM, and also plain PDF and ePub files.

Android – Android is an operating system that runs on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. See the Android Wikipedia page for more information.

App – “App” is short for application. This has become a standard word to describe small software programs that are used on smartphones and tablets. This includes ebook apps like Aldiko, Bluefire Reader and iBooks.

Authorize – Reading ebooks that are protected by DRM usually requires that you “authorize” your software with a user account. When working with Adobe’s DRM, you must authorize with your Adobe ID account. Authorization is similar to registering your software. It is the way in which the software recognizes that you are the person who purchased the ebook and legally have the right to use it. It allows you to use your ebooks on more than one computer or device.

BeBook – BeBook is a popular brand of eReader and tablet devices. BeBook models include the BeBook Neo, BeBook Club, and BeBook Live tablet.

Bluefire Reader – Bluefire Reader is an app for reading eBooks on iOS. You can download Bluefire Reader here, and read my post with instructions here. Bluefire Reader will read ebooks with Adobe DRM, and also plain PDF and ePub files.

DRM – DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It is digital security that protects a publisher’s legal copyrights by preventing users from illegally pirating ebooks. Adobe provides DRM that is commonly used by ebook sellers.

eBook – eBook is short for electronic book. eBooks are books in digital format that can be read on your computer or mobile devices.

E-Ink – E-Ink is short for electronic ink. It is the technology used in many eReader devices. These devices use matte screens (non-glossy) that are engineered to display words as if it was ink printed on paper.

ePub – ePub is the current open ebook format that is standardized by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). ePub files come with the .epub file extension and can be read with a variety of different ebook programs and e-reading devices. They are easy to use and create. See my post about the best free ePub readers.

eReader – eReader is short for electronic reader. It usually refers to devices that are used to read ebooks, such as the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and many others.

Format – “Format” refers to the type of ebook. The most common ebook formats nowadays are PDF, ePub, and Kindle. Different eReaders can use different formats, but most can use PDF and ePub. The Kindle can generally only use special Kindle ebooks with the .azw extension. Format also can be used to describe books in print, such as “paper back” or “hard back”. It’s also the same way different music media are described, such as the familiar “CD” or “mp3”. All of these terms describe different formats.

iBooks – iBooks is the native eBook reading app on iOS devices. You can purchase eBooks for iBooks through iTunes.

iOS – iOS is the name of the operating system that runs on mobile Apple devices: the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

Kindle – The Kindle is the eReader developed and sold by Amazon. It is the most popular eReader available today, mostly due to Amazon’s excellent marketing of the device, and the ease of purchasing and downloading eBooks for it from Amazon.com.

Kobo – Kobo is the company that sells Kobo eReaders, including the original Kobo eReader, the Kobo eReader touch, and the Kobo Vox Tablet.

Nook – Nook is the name of the eReaders sold by Barnes & Noble, including the Nook 1st Edition, Nook Touch, Nook Color, and Nook Tablet.

PDF – PDF is a popular eBook format. PDF eBook files have the extension .pdf. When not protected by DRM, PDF eBooks can be read in generally any PDF-reader software. If protected by Adobe’s DRM, they must be opened with Adobe Digital Editions.

Sony Reader – Sony has released many eReaders under the Sony brand, most of which have model names that start with “PRS”.

Tablet – A tablet is a flat, slate-like electronic device. They are very similar to smartphones, often evening running the same software, just in a larger physical size. Popular tablet models include the iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Kindle Fire, Motorola Xoom, and many others. These tablets make excellent eBook reading devices with their larger screens and availability of ebook apps.

Best Free ePub Reader Software

ePub Reader Software - Free DownloadsThe ePub ebook format is so important because of its reflowable nature. “Reflowable” means that the text will rearrange itself to fit your screen size. If you increase or decrease the font size, the text also rearranges itself. This is hugely different from standard page displays like those in PDF files. On those files, if you wish to increase the text size, all you can really do is zoom in on the page. eReaders try to let you increase the font size but it always affects the page size as well, cutting off the edges of the pages. If you zoom too far in, you have to scroll sideways back and forth in order to read the a whole line of text. This is the main reason why I think ePub is the best ebook format, and I hope it stays around for a long time.

And because of that, I wanted to compile a list of the best current ePub reading programs that you can use on your computer. Most eReaders can display ePubs, and you can use them on your Android or iOS device (with programs like Aldiko and Bluefire Reader, for example), but not everyone knows which program to use to open them on your computer.

DRM

If you’re going to buy an ePub file that is protected by Adobe’s DRM, you’ll have to use Adobe Digital Editions. Likewise, if you buy an ePub ebook at any specific website that has their own DRM, you’ll probably have to use the software that they recommend, but that depends on the website so I can’t tell you what you need.

Non-DRM

For regular ePub files, you have some choices:

Adobe Digital Editions – You can still use Adobe Digital Editions for non-DRM ePubs. I do because I already have it installed on my computer.

calibre – This is a program that lets you create, organize, and read your ebooks.

EPUBReader – A Firefox addon that allows you to read ePubs directly in Firefox.

FBReader – Works on Linux/Unix and Windows.

Mobipocket Reader – Bought by Amazon a while ago, and seems to be slowly shutting down. Still good for now.

There are others available that you can dig up, but these listed above are the ones that I feel are best. Stanza, for example, can read many ebook formats but ignores a lot of formatting so you end up missing out on the intended design of the book. Because of that I suspect that other readers might do the same thing.

I think that we’ll probably see more programs released as more and more people use the ePub ebook format. Even now I am seeing that ePub and PDF are the most popular (Kindle notwithstanding) and since ePub works best on the widest range of devices, it is the clear winner as far as I am concerned.

 

Creating ePubs with Sigil

Recently I had the task of creating some ePub ebooks. I did some research to find the best program to use for this, and the best I found was Sigil. This is a free program for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is very easy to use. It’s simple and works well. It even beats out paid programs like Adobe InDesign because that program requires a lot of levels of unnecessary complication.

Here are some basic steps to take:

1. Download the version of Sigil that you need for your computer.

2. Install.

3. Get the text of the publication that you will be working with (more on this below). Sigil can import TXT, HTML, and other EPUB files.

4. Read the Basic Tutorial. This is an excellent tutorial that shows you everything you need to know to get started. I recommend just following along with it and doing each step. After that you”ll be really familiar with the process and you can do more involved work with your ePub creations.

My Tips

Here are some things I think are important that aren’t covered in the basic tutorial in detail.

Margins: One thing that Sigil lacks is a built-in method for setting the margins of pages. There is a really easy solution, though. You can just add a line to the CSS in the code view. I’ve found that this works well:

body {padding: 3%;}

You can change the percentage to anything you like. Putting some padding around the edges really makes the book look more professional and easy to read.

ePub Viewers: The ePub files that I’ve created look really good in Adobe Digital Editions, which is Adobe’s ebook viewer. They also look good on my BeBook Neo, so I assume they will look fine on other similar e-readers. I put my ePubs on my iPhone and opened them with Bluefire Reader and they look good there as well. I tested my ePubls in Stanza’s desktop reader, and it is not smart enough to recognize Sigil’s page breaks and some of its formatting, so I don’t recommend using that program or other less-developed ePub viewers.

Page Breaks: This is covered in the tutorial but I just want to reiterate it. Sigil has an excellent little tool for creating page breaks. This can be used, for example, at the start of each Chapter. You just put your cursor above the Chapter title, and then click the button that looks like a curly “Ch”. Where you’ve created these breaks, the reader will see nicely formatted chapter beginnings that are separated from the end of the previous chapter.

What’s not mentioned in the tutorial is this: You can make global adjustments to your text before you split the pages, and then those adjustments will be included on every page without you having to edit every single page. For example: if you implement the margin CSS code that I mentioned above, you should do this before you start splitting up the page. Each new page you make via the Chapter break will inherit that CSS line that you added to the first one.

Text Prep: I recommend doing a lot of work on your text before you import it into Sigil. For example, if your source file is HTML, you can set Headings on each Chapter title (or section title or whathaveyou) in the HTML. You can prepare any other special formatting like italics, line breaks, indents, etc. That way if you lose your work in Sigil, or if you need to start over, you’ll have it all saved in your source file.

For everything else, you can just play around and see what you can learn. If you have any questions about using this program, feel free to leave a comment. I might know the answer (and might not!).

Bluefire Reader for Adobe DRM eBooks on iOS

Use Bluefire Reader for Adobe DRM eBooksIf you want to read ebooks that are protected by Adobe DRM on your iOS device (that includes iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) the app I recommend is Bluefire Reader.

Most of the ebooks being sold by mainstream publishers that are in PDF or ePub format are protected by DRM. Book publishers, just like music publishers, are concerned about software piracy, so they require ebook stores to use Adobe’s DRM on the ebook downloads. Programs like Adobe Reader and other standard programs or apps that read PDF files aren’t set up to deal with that DRM, so you need an app that can handle it.

Here is what you will need to do:

1. Follow my previous instructions for how to set up Adobe Digital Editions correctly. You’ll need to install it and then “authorize” with your Adobe ID.

2. Get the Bluefire Reader app for your iOS device. Download it from iTunes and install it on the device.

3. The first time you open Bluefire Reader, you’ll be asked if you want to authorize it with your Adobe ID. You should go ahead and do it. Just follow the instructions given.

Make sure to use the same ID that you used when you authorized Adobe Digital Editions on your computer. That is how Adobe will allow you to use your ebooks on both your computer and the iOS device.

4. If you haven’t already, get an ebook that you want to read.

5. Transferring Files

Note: This will only work with iOS 4 or later. If you have an iPad you should already have that, but if you have an older iPhone or iPod, update the OS so that you can transfer files from your computer to the device.

a) Connect your device to your computer.

b) Open iTunes and click on your device. It should look something like this:

Obviously if you have an iPad it will say “iPad” or whatever you named your iPad, etc.

c) On the top-center area of the screen, click Apps. In iTunes on my computer, it looks like this:

d) Scroll down to the “File Sharing” section, which should be at the bottom of the screen. Select the Bluefire Reader app from the list, and click “Add”. On my computer it looks like this:

e) Now you can find the ebook that you want to transfer. If you bought a DRM-protected Adobe PDF or ePub file, it should be in a folder called “My Digital Editions”. Any non-DRM ebooks will be wherever you put them on your computer.

It might sync to your device automatically or you might have to perform a sync on your own. After that you should be able to open Bluefire Reader on your device and see the ebook.

I recommend that you find ePub files rather than PDF whenever possible. It seems that most e-readers and ebook apps display them a lot better because ePub files are reflowable, which means that the text of the book can rearrange itself to accommodate your screen size much easier than in PDF files.

If you need help with Bluefire Reader, they have a good User Guide and other help information.

Are eBooks Printable? Should They Be?

Are eBooks Printable?Here is the quick answer: Most ebooks are not printable, and if you’re not sure whether an ebook is printable, it’s best to assume that it is not.

This question regarding whether ebooks are printable or not seems to have become less of an issue over the past year or two, as more ebook reader devices have become available and as they have become more popular. Before that, ebooks were being used on the computer more than they are now. Also, people would often purchase an ebook with the intent of downloading it to their computer and then printing a copy.

Personally, I think that’s pretty silly. I am guessing that the idea behind this method is that you could buy an ebook and print it faster than you could buy a paper book and wait for it to be delivered. But when you consider the cost of printer paper and printer ink, I don’t think it makes much sense.

Another situation that might lend itself to printing an ebook is when an independent author has self-published his/her book as an ebook, but it’s not available as a paper book. In that case, a person might be interested in the content of the book but not want to read it on a screen. In this situation, printing an ebook makes a little more sense, but it still seems like way too much trouble to me.

The majority of ebooks that you’ll buy are not printable at all. Let’s consider each popular ebook format separately:

Kindle AZW Format:

I don’t own a Kindle or use Kindle ebooks (I have a BeBook Neo) so I’ve never tried to print a Kindle ebook. However, I searched Amazon’s Kindle Help section and I couldn’t find any information about printing at all. This leads me to believe that Kindle ebooks don’t have a printing function. Since they are designed to be read on Kindle devices, or other Kindle apps for your computer or mobile devices, it makes sense that a printing function would not have been built into the software.

Microsoft Reader Format:

Microsoft Reader ebooks are not printable at all. Microsoft did not build a printing function into the software.

Mobipocket Reader Format:

Mobipocket Reader ebooks are not printable at all. Again, Mobipocket did not build a printing function into the software. This makes sense because even though Mobipocket ebooks can be read on a Windows PC, they were primarily designed for reading on mobile devices like Blackberrys, Windows Mobile, Palm OS, etc.

Palm eReader Format:

Again, same story. There is no printing function because this software was designed to be used on mobile devices.

EPUB Format:

EPUB ebooks are printable by default. If the EPUB file is being protected by DRM, such as with Adobe’s Content Server DRM, then the publisher of the ebook can disable the printing function. If you’re not sure whether this has been done, it’s safest to assume that you won’t be able to print the ebook. Don’t buy an ebook with the intention of printing it if you’re not sure whether you will be able to print it.

PDF Format:

PDF is the most likely candidate for printing, but you still have to make sure that printing hasn’t been disabled by the publisher of the ebook. When a PDF file is created with Adobe Acrobat, the creator of the file can change the document security so that printing is not allowed. (Other features can also be disabled, such as the ability to copy text from the document.)

Other Formats like Word, txt, HTML:

Microsoft Word files, plain text files (.txt) and HTML files are printable. But like I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t consider these files types to be real ebooks.

Should eBooks Be Printable?

My answer is: I don’t think that ebooks need to be printable. One of the main differences between an ebook and a paper book is that the ebook is not printed on paper. If you buy an ebook and then print it, you lose some of the benefits of ebooks like the fact that they don’t use up trees, and the fact that they are digital files that don’t take up physical space.

Many book publishers don’t want their ebooks to be printable because they are concerned about copyright violations. Printing an ebook multiple times with the intention of re-selling it is much easier than scanning a book and then printing off multiple copies.

There are some cases in which an ebook needs to be printable. Some ebooks contain maps, charts, or other graphics that might need to be printed. There are also ebooks that contain plays or sheet music that might need to be printed by the person who is using them. In those cases, it is important that the book publisher leave the printing function available for the consumer. But like I said above, if you are buying an ebook with the intention of printing it, check with the seller before placing your order.

In a nutshell, you can determine fairly easily whether an ebook will be printable or not if you consider the format of the ebook and whether or not it is protected by DRM. If the ebook is EPUB or PDF, it will probably be printable if there is no DRM present. If the ebook is in a format that was designed for use on e-readers or other mobile devices, then it is not printable. If you’re buying a current popular ebook from a mainstream ebook retailer, you should assume that the publisher of the book requires DRM on the download, which will disable printing in most cases.

Bottom line: If you want a printed book, buy a printed book. Don’t buy an ebook.

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