Monday, November 28, 2011

How to copy ePub ebook to iPod touch or iPhone

To copy (DRM-free) ePub ebook on computer (B) to iPod touch or iPhone (A):

• Open iTunes (B).
• Download iBooks app ( (B).
• Connect (A) to (B) with USB cord.
• Click on the iBooks app in iTunes (B). (You may be asked to "authorize" this app on your computer.)
• Copy your ebook (B) to iTunes Books folder (B). (Or add ebook to iTunes Library. It should then appear in a new iBooks Books folder if that folder didn't exist before.)
• Sync (A) and (B):
ebook should now be in iBooks app bookshelf (A).

Once this is done the first time, all that's needed is to copy the ebook to the computer's iTunes Books folder and sync device and computer.

Friday, November 25, 2011

ISBN puzzle

Let's say you have published an ebook (EPUB) and have assigned it an ISBN (eISBN). Then you make it available for e-readers and other devices.

Now suppose there is a POD ("Print On Demand") machine you (or someone who isn't you even) can send it (an ebook) to to make a printable edition (a pbook). Now the ebook is a "float-layout" (or "reflow") format (EPUB in this case), but what the POD machine needs is a "fixed-layout" format (such as PDF). It may be too much to ask at this point to that the fixed-layout PDF can be made totally automatically from the float-layout EPUB: one expects that some editing within a tool (like Adobe InDesign) would be needed to get the book to look right according to the (chosen) page dimensions the POD machine is going to print its output on.

Now would one print a differently assigned ISBN number (one assigned for a hardback or paperback edition) in the pbook (produced by the POD machine) than the eISBN number in the ebook? When you think about it, since you are "just printing out" an existing EPUB ebook with an existing ISBN, it seems strange that a new ISBN would appear in the pbook. Look at it this way: You send your ePub to the POD machine and ask it to print out a 6"x8" version and a 7"x7" version. Would you expect a different ISBN to be printed? Of course not.

2011/12/05: Regardless of the comments in Do I really need a separate ISBN for each e-book format?, I bought a book from Smashwords (one I reviewed): I downloaded both the NOOK (epub) and Kindle (mobi) versions. Same ISBN in both NOOK and Kindle versions. That should take care of that confusion.

Another example: Suppose you have an Android tablet running the Kindle app and the Nook app and you download the the EPUB and MOBI versions of the same ebook. Would you expect to see a different ISBN in each reading it on your tablet?

Having a different eISBN on an EPUB and a MOBI is not like hardback and a paperback, it's like having a different ISBN just because there's a different brand of glue used.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Go with the reflow: The reflow POV

Writers (including poets) are entering the age (finally, it has arrived) of people reading from electronic devices instead of from printed matter. It was talked about for decades, but now both e-ink readers and LCD tablets are becoming affordable and actually more practical than the print alternative.

But unlike books and magazines (to pick two physical formats that have been a part of our civilization for a while now), mobile electronic devices vary in the dimensions of what is being displayed. Now readers (consumers) buy a book and expects to be able to read "that book" on their 3" screen iPod Touch, iPhone, or Android phone; their 6" e-ink reader; their 7" NOOK Tablet or Kindle Fire; their 9" iPad or Android tablet. Hence reflow, the reformatting of content for each of these devices in a way that is pleasing to the reader. That is what EPUB is all about, being based on HTML and CSS standards.

With that as a given, it gives writers a point-of-view (a "reflow POV") that is fundamentally different from the print age POV. Now writers are thinking that their products will be seen on any of the devices mentioned above, and they have to write (code, actually) with that in mind. The old way was to write using a tool targeted for producing a format for printed matter (such as Word or PDF), and then hope that some conversion program will make satisfactory formats (such as EPUB) for e-devices. But this approach can lead to unsatisfactory results. Poets, for example, may want their longer lines in their poem to reflow by indenting when the reader changes font or orientation on the device.

In this new reflow POV, writers are now writing in the more abstract and relative mode that EPUB provides, and new tools for making great-looking EPUB content, with that as the primary focus, are certainly on the way. They are not bound anymore to the physical dimensions and type of the printed pages of a particular book.

It's a reflow world.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

eISBNs and ebook formats

In Does Your Ebook Need Its Own ISBN? (BookBuzzr), the suggestion is made that a publisher should assign a different ISBN (eISBN) to each different electronic format that an ebook is published in.

Since EPUB format (can be read on a NOOK) and MOBI format (can be read on a Kindle) are interconvertible with Calibre for example (see Calibre manual, does it make sense that you have to have one eISBN for the EPUB version and another eISBN for the MOBI version of the "same" ebook? It makes sense — I guess — that there is a different ISBN for a hardback and a paperback version of a book, and each of these from an ebook version, but if the conversion between two ebook formats is just a software conversion process, does it make sense that an ebook in the two formats needs a different ISBN for each format?

I would think that since it's only a software conversion between the two formats (EPUB and MOBI in this case), that you would not need to use two ISBNs. After all, a consumer with the EPUB version can easily make a MOBI version to read on a Kindle — assuming there is no DRM lock on the EPUB version, of course.

(Of course when MOBI goes away and Kindle is EPUB, then this will no longer be an issue.) :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The e-publisher's basic toolkit

HTML/CSS/JS editor

Format conversion

EPUB editor

EPUB validator

ebook viewers (for Mac/PC)

Kindle for Mac: (also for PC)

Cover image creation

Printing ebooks

Note: I have used all of these (the online versions, if available) on MacBook Pro (OS X 10.6.8)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Amazon vs. Apple vs. EPUB3?

I PROGRAMMER points to some concerns about Amazon's new Kindle format (KF8) and the EPUB3 standard:

Even where sales of EPUB ebooks lag behind Kindle sales, many publishers have now built their workflow around EPUB as their primary source files. These convert well into the current Kindle format, allowing publishers to maintain a single format. To keep this workflow, it will be important that Amazon supports error-free EPUB3 conversion in its Kindle Gen 2 toolset. But as complexity increases, so do the opportunities for things to break. We won’t know until Amazon releases more details whether EPUB3 can continue to serve as this reference format. Indications are that EPUB3 is a richer format so publishers might want to restrict themselves to a feature subset that’s common to both platforms. No mention yet, for instance, of JavaScript support, MathML, or EPUB3's extensive accessibility features.
— Martin Taylor, eReport — Digital Publishing Downunder


Amazon isn't the only major player to define its own format. Apple had already adopted an custom extension of the EPUB standard for illustrated books and magazines that worked only with its iBooks e-reader app.

Just the way things go I guess: "Could we be in for the e-reader wars?"

Wonder where Barnes&Noble (NOOK) will play? (The e-reader to be most EPUB3 friendly?)