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Friday, January 22, 2010

Making an eBook--Part 2

We started a series on making an eBook, based on a writer's observance of his publisher's process. In Part 1 of the series, author and eBOOKNEWSER (GalleyCat) blogger Craig Morgan Teicher noted that traditional book publishers like his spend about the same effort on book design for eBooks as print books. They don't want their eBooks to have a lower aesthetic bar than print books. Part 2 and Part 2.5--he split the topic--will be combined here.

In Part 2 of Making an eBook, Mr. Teicher relates his correspondence with Smashwords, who had contacted him after his first post. Smashwords is an eBook publisher--used by many authors and publishers--that has a relatively simple process for producing an eBook in many formats from an MS Word doc file. Smashword's "meatgrinder" application gobbles the meat of your .doc file and grinds out the eBook. You can then publish the eBook on their web site (if you choose), for no cost. They take a royalty on sales. You'll want to read Mr. Teicher's comments about Smashwords. He was favorably impressed but noted that it would not work for him as he needed linked files in his eBook, which are not supported yet by Smashwords. That's a problem with monolithic applications like that; you get what you get. You can diddle your source file, but you can't affect how the application converts your file.

I had the same issue with an otherwise very nice application, Calibre, that's free and runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. The website is terse but has a decent style book. It has many input formats and output (eBook) formats. Smashwords is quite attractive considering its publishing option and support.

In Part 2.5 of Making an eBook, Mr. Teicher iterated his thoughts about his publishing company's eBook philosophy. They want a consistent look to all their eBooks and worry that they won't achieve that with applications like Smashwords' Meatgrinder. Unless they find an alternative, they'll hand code their Kindle eBooks. In that case, Mr. Teicher will report on that process as it happens.

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