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Reading on an iPod

My morning has been sucked away by research--which is good, I suppose. I enjoy being interested enough in a topic that I lose myself in finding out more about it. Today it's ebook formats, which might seem kind of dry. But as an ebook author and publisher, it really isn't.

I used to read my ebooks on my desktop or laptop as PDF files. I loved those PDFs because the formatting was always beautiful. And then I put out my own ebooks, and began getting letters from readers who begged me to go back epublishing houses so they could get those books in some format other than PDF.

Huh. I said, never fear. I'll figure out how to make different formats myself.

And so I figured out how to make Mobi and Lit files. And I installed Mobi and Lit readers on my laptop so I could test them, and lo and behold, I decided I liked those formats better than PDF. Why? (Especially when the publisher then gets no control over the way the book lays out?)

Well, it's flowable. I can control what font I'm reading, and at what size. I can control how the page lays out on my screen. And I find that I prefer a fairly narrow column to read--my eye tracks back and forth more easily than it would across and 8.5x11 (or even a 6x9) page. Think newspaper columns, easy to scan. And other formats have other perks. Lit files can be read to you by a clunky computer voice. Mobi files come with metadata, so when you browse them in your library, you see the book cover image and the blurb, rather than just the file name.

And then I got an iPod touch, and realized I could read ebooks on that. Or could I? It's so small, after all.

Nope--not small at all. I love it. I read Fatal Shadows on an airplane without having to juggle a physical book, without having to crack open a laptop. I read it on my iPod, which is the size of a small stack of cards. And the screen resolution was so high, I could see fairly small text quite clearly, though I would have had the option to increase the text size if I'd wanted to.

My only problem with reading on the iPod is that the italics weren't preserved when I converted the PDF file and used Stanza (a program that is currently free, but may become fee-based when it's out of beta) to get it onto my iPod. Apparently there is a file type I could create that would let people with iPhones and iPods download books directly and keep all that formatting (and chapter divisions, too) but it would involve a learning curve for me in ebook production. That's not a bad thing, but I don't think I'd implement these changes on prior books. Just on new releases.

Right now, iPhone owners can read all my Mobi files if they convert them with free Stanza. What I was thinking about was sprucing up some of my freebies as easy-to-read, free downloads so that a new crop of readers could get to know my work. I don't know if it's worth the time and effort, but it might bring me some new readers who weren't ebook readers before.

I'd estimate that 90% of my ebook sales are PDFs. But I'm digging where the other 10% are coming from now. Me and my iPod. I can't see myself buying PDFs anymore, not when other file formats will allow me to read the ebooks where and how I want. And both the Lit reader and the Mobi reader (for PC) are free.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 19th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
I read Fatal Shadows on an airplane
Such a great book and I'm so excited that you are the new Partner in Crime

I buy pdf's as I print them out so I can read curled up in my favorite chair or in bed
But I can see how other formats are in demand. If I had a kindle or iPod touch I'd probably download them there too.
And I must say I wish I had either during the great ice storm of 2008 lol
I'm in the process of moving and all my books were packed away. Except yours thank God as I was expecting Camp Hell and wanted to reread them.
Dec. 19th, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC)
Wow, all that printing is so time-consuming! I know what you mean about curling up wherever, though. I print out a draft of my books to proof (before I make ebooks) and then I also get paperback proofs where I invariably find more errors.

I wonder if the HTML format would work better for you for printing? That way you could open it in a word processing program and control the font, spacing, etc. I will send you one and you can play with it.
Dec. 19th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It'll be interesting to see if it improves the printing process.
Dec. 19th, 2008 10:36 pm (UTC)
I prefer Mobi .prc's and read them on my (4 and half year old) Palm Pilot Tungsten) and I can also read them on my desktop. It seems, and this is only a suspicion, that .pdf's suck the battery faster - that may be a bias against Adobe products, because I seem to chew more memory (that is released "nicely" when the programme is closed) when using Adobe stuff, even the Reader. I only purchase ebooks and zines in .pdf when there is no alternative.

Speaking of which, is there another way I can pay for Camp Hell? I don't really want to sign up for another Shopping portal (can PayPal), as I already have a number at the various publishers online (Torquere, Dreamspinner, ....)?
Dec. 19th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC)
I'm also liking the way the mobis look when I put them on my iPod.

Sorry, it's not feasible for me to accept multiple types of payments. I'm just a little one-person operation!
Dec. 28th, 2008 07:57 am (UTC)
No problem - finally dl'd and settling down with a glass of wine to read it. :)
Thank you!
Dec. 29th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks for understanding! I hope you enjoy the story :D
Dec. 26th, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC)
http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php is a lifesaver when pdf's the only option.
Dec. 26th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the link - I'll try it out.
Dec. 26th, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC)
see, I don't have any shiny toys to read on (yet), but that lack of flexability's why I *hate* pdfs.
Dec. 26th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
I always think of PDFs as being the type of file you send a commercial printer, so your font and layout stay the same. I wonder why it ever became an ebook standard? Maybe because the Adobe Reader program is free. All you can really do is zoom in or out, though. Thanks for that link!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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