Sometimes things look super easy, like when you join Blurbarati and swim graciously around in a sea of information designed to make the book building process as easy as possible! Other times, you can make it ridiculously difficult for yourself. Oft I will find myself in the later paradigm.
I am convinced creating an eBook is entirely possible. Everyone tells me it is. I glanced surreptitiously at the Blurb.com website and there it is, push a button and pay $1.95 for my book to 'be' an eBook. Perfect. My dilemma? The children's books written and illustrated by children for children as part of the Child Writes program are MY RESPONSIBILTY. I need to convert 200 plus PDF versions (which is an eBook, that is, I can send it to you electronically and you can read it on your desktop).
So, the problem is? You are asking, whilst wishing for you time back if I don’t quickly get to the point!
The problem is I really wish to produce a beautiful eBook. Fellow Speakers Ink illustrator, Lucia Masciullo and her partner, Vincenzo Pignatelli have just released a truly glorious version of Puss in Boots. It is an app, there is music, there are five different languages... it does everything except for getting the kids to clean their teeth and tuck them in! A beautiful eBook.
For me, on my computer, I love the idea of the pages flipping, turning one by one, each double spread of a book laid out there before me. The technology which makes this possible is predominantly used by the magazine market. Flipping books. No, that is not an expletive...
My Google search – flip book eBook creators. Of course, every single one says ‘It is just a click away’ or ‘Converting your PDF is so easy YOU can do it’. My next ISSUE is which program. Luckily I am a visual person, because my first sort through hundreds of programs was simply based on the LOOK, yes, which one looked good. I figured, if they were tech-heads, then the developer of the software would probably have created the website. Smart eh!
So, I dive in, pick one (or should it be that one) and seconds later after an exchange of cash, I have the program on my desktop.
The instructions – ‘import file / convert file / publish file’ – love it.
Now, like waiting for the ending of a really bad soappie, you are now thinking ‘so, get ON WITH IT.’ I have to share for those of you out there with my complete lack of technical prowess, WAIT, THERE IS MORE TO THINK ABOUT!
The delivery of eBooks is not entirely simple. Whilst it has a generic name, eBooks can be delivered to many different viewers. That is, iPad, Kindle, PC and so on. The owner of the viewer is often the designer of the file conversion program and therefore, has you by the short and curlies!
Yes, you guessed it; my flip book converter doesn’t have a viewer which is free to download. SO, I can only distribute the files via a CD (already that sounds old fashioned) or via a website (and there brings into question band width, because you don’t ‘give’ the book to the customer, they are only allowed to ‘view’ the book online.
Goodness, are you still with me.
Now at this point, I am in total agreement with Germaine Greer – who was discussing the vagaries of working out formatting of notes to suit Kindle, iPad, etc – whilst she is loving the thought of not killing trees to share her work, working with eBooks is not as simple as it should be.
“It is killing me quite frankly, but I will get there!”
Germaine Greer, First Tuesday Book Club, 3 April 2012.
Don’t tell me to go and ask eHow or to wade through tech magazine articles which espouse the simplicity of the process. I needed an ‘eBooks for Dummies’ – yes, for someone completely stupid, though earnestly wishing to make the process manageable. (Note to self: this book hasn’t been written yet!) Better still, I needed a person who spoke fluent eBooks and could also speak English.
Tick: Use networks – broadcast on FaceBook and on Linkedin the need for such a person.
Tick: Found one!
Tick: Asked for phone number (because old fashioned) made appointment (which was sent to me to accept / reject via Outlook and it dropped automatically into my calendar.
Tick: Go the meeting and try to work it all out.
What did I leave with – an order for Adobe Acrobat X Pro. Now, I will be able to create PDF eBooks, with some security (password) and then email them.
Yes, I know – right back to the beginning! But this way round, I have been on a hell of a ride – and really, that is what the story should be about!