One of the wonderful things about the evolution of social media (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs etc) is that you get instant and regular feedback – and so it happened with NLP practitioners feeding back on our books.
We have many NLP, hypnotherapy and coaching books and one of the regular pieces of feedback, in particular from the USA is that they would love to have the book in an electronic format. Practitioners never know when they are going to encounter for example a client with a child with learning difficulties [Seeing Spells Achieving], or suffering from bedwetting [Stop Bedwetting in 7 Days], or indeed a client with a relative suffering from cancer [You Too Can Do Health + Bangers and Mash] etc. OK – shouldn’t be too hard? Or is it?
Herein is the challenge. Most users of electronic devices will be blissfully unaware that there are already a host of different formats that you have to consider – and each one has different processes and different costs associated with them.
NLP practitioners can stop reading here [the rest is a book industry rant, albeit you may find it fun]- what we’d love to know from you is which format you prefer – please vote here – iPad vs Kindle].
Going electronic – iPad, Kindle and ePub.
Lets start with ePub. This is the standard [oh what a lovely misleading word that is] that the book industry has gone with – check out wikipedia for the deeper definition. Not too bad an attempt, but be wary that many companies that produce ePub versions don’t produce a clean enough version, so there is already dilution of the standard happening. Lets assume you get a great company create you a good ePub file – you need another ISBN for it. OK, I get that you have to differentiate from the printed version, so now you are set and ready to go? Well, not really. The world’s biggest seller of books, Amazon uses a different format. Ah.
Onto the mighty Kindle then. My entrepreneur’s hat is doffed to the boys and girls at Amazon for Kindle as to be honest, it sometimes takes someone flooding the market with a new device to spur the rest to play catchup and they are pretty heavy on promoting it – just visit their US homepage and it screams ‘Kindle now only $189‘. To supply Kindle you need the mobipocket format – OK, fair enough, allocate another IBSN, get the mobipocket files created.
And finally, drum roll please for…………….. the uber-sexy iPad. Yes, it is Apple’s latest wonderful device the iPad. Don’t listen to the techno-geeks that throw bricks at the functionality of the iPad, it’s a lifestyle/behaviour changing device and it the sales are phenomenal already. The great news for us as publishers is that Apple have chosen to run with the industry standard ePub format. What? I hear you exclaim, no new format that you have to use that is specific to Apple? Wonderful I’ll get going right now. Well, actually no. You can’t supply ePub as it is to Apple, you have to convert it into a file format that they will accept. Before you reach for your wallet, the good news is that Apple provides you with the free software that you need to convert your ePub files. I will at this point refer you back to the earlier paragraph, it has to be a proper ePub file, not one of the really cheap “I’ll give you a volume price sir” ePub files some are knocking out to unsuspecting publishers. Hoorary then – go, go Apple. Ah, slight problem. iTunes Producer, the software that converts only runs on Macs.
Five years ago we decided that we were good at publishing, and design agencies are good at design, so we outsourced all our design including our book covers [thanks Bob] and as a consequence we only run PCs not Macs. Brilliant. So we have lots of lovely ePub files and now have to find a low/zero cost way to convert them. By the way Apple have taken a lesson from their eBook predecessors and set up a series of aggregators that will gladly take that hassle away from you in return for either a) a fee, or b) ouch, ouch, ouch 30-60% of your margin.
So that’s the story so far. I haven’t even added in the dilema with iPad between supplying iBooks verus Apps as that would really upset you. We, the independent publishers, are trying to embrace this new electronic world but boy are they making it tough. So any insight you can give us as to which to do first – please vote iPad vs Kindle.
If you’d like more of the history of how we go to this little ‘challenge’ check out the eBook page on Wikipedia.