The new ePub3 format is talked about a great deal on the Internet, but aside from a short list of new features and capabilities, frustratingly little information is actually given about it. eReader manufacturers have barely begun to implement fragments of the new spec and they aren’t making promises about when upgrades will arrive, presumably because they don’t want to encourage consumers to hold out for new models.
Though this video is almost a year old, it does provide useful insight into the vision of the International Digital Publishing Forum (the organization that created and continues to work on the ePub specification). In the video, Bill McCoy, Executive Director of the IDPF, presents an only-slightly-technical perspective on ePub3 with demonstrations of a few of its capabilities.
In response to this older video, Bill McCoy suggested I share the following which was posted much more recently.
IBooks Author is Apple’s new eBook publishing application, a drag-and-drop tool that allows publishers to create interactive books without having to write code.
From Apple:Available free on the Mac App store, iBooks Author is an amazing new app that allows anyone to create beautiful Multi-Touch textbooks — and just about any other kind of book — for iPad. With galleries, video, interactive diagrams, 3D objects, and more, these books bring content to life in ways the printed page never could.
Notwithstanding the fact that books have hardly failed to bring content to life these past five centuries since the introduction of the printing press, iBooks-Author looks pretty slick. However, Apple’s latest offering comes with sticky licensing restrictions that are unprecedented in the software industry.
It’s the latest big deal in publishing: Big publishers are being sued; accused of using the ‘agency model,’ to keep prices of eBooks artificially high. Amazon, the world’s largest bookseller, is complying but only offering agency terms to the Big Six publishers. But in spite of all the brouhaha, independent publishers don’t need to worry themselves about it.
Certainly, Amazon has well-founded concerns that if they don’t meet the terms of their largest suppliers, they could lose the right to distribute their eBooks. Not only would that be costly, it would dilute Amazon’s strategy for the Kindle; namely having the world’s largest selection of popular, desirable eBooks.
But small publishers—especially self-publishers—operate under an entirely different set of business conditions. While the judicial system referees the conduct of the publishing industry’s big players, other market pressures are more deserving of indie publishers’ attention. Continue reading →
There is a tendency to refer to “POD Publishers” with disdain, but POD is just a printing technology. I use Lightning Source for printing, own my own ISBN numbers and retain all of my rights. I do my own design and layout. “Vanity Press” is the term most often associated with companies who offer book production packages, take a share of royalties or rights and bundle your work into their “publisher’s catalog”—and I think the more reputable vanity presses can be a good fit for many writers.
Lightning Source is a printer. iUniverse is a vanity press. Both use POD technology. I suggest a distinction between “POD Printers” and “Vanity Presses” with the term “publishing” reserved for those who own their own ISBNs, rights and royalties. If you publish through Xlibris or iUniverse, technically, you’re not self-publishing, but whether that distinction is important varies according to individual circumstances and points of view.
Irrespective of intellectual property considerations and who facilitates production, without POD, we’d all be sitting on stacks of books, handling fulfillment ourselves, and praying for the day when we get our closet space back.
The following is something I posted on a discussion forum in response to someone who asked for a critique on about a dozen of their self-designed book covers.
Since you asked for a critique, I’ll pick on you, but with the caveat that you make many of the same errors everyone else does. I’m using you as a catalyst to educate rather than to make an example of.
The sore spot for me (and with many of my university design students, by the way—you’re in good company) is the typography. Continue reading →