All posts by Michael Cook

Amazon Kindle Support

Over the last few years the focus of epubBooks has been to provide very high quality EPUB ebooks from many of the great classic authors such as Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, Author Conan Doyle and Beatrix Potter, and for all for free, but up until now we’ve not supported the Amazon Kindle.

In truth, I’d always hoped that Amazon would start supporting the EPUB format and allow their Kindle users to upload all our titles directly to their eReaders. Although there have been rumours, nothing ever came of them and I’m not honestly expecting that to change in the next few years. Therefore, we’ve decided to bite the bullet and start providing ebooks in both the EPUB and Kindle MOBI formats. Continue reading

Guardian 100 Best English Novels: Free eBooks!

The Guardian are currently running a series of the 100 Best English Language Novels of All Time. As a large number of theses books (perhaps 50%) will be in the public domain, I’m going to reproduce this list here with links to the free ebooks available at epubBooks.

As each book is announced I’ll update this post, but for now, dig in and enjoy. Continue reading

New EPUB3 eBook Editions

A couple of months back I set to work on finishing the ground up rewrite of my PG eText to EPUB app and this week I reached a stage where I’m happy enough with the results to start releasing new editions of all the titles currently on epubBooks, along with starting to upload new ebooks.

The new pipeline I’m using (TXT > DocBook > EPUB) means that I can utilise the DocBook XSL project, and thus epubBooks now delivers all ebooks as EPUB3. The DocbookXSL stylesheets lack some of the more interesting EPUB3 features to allow them to be compatible with EPUB2 eReaders, which for the moment is good for everyone. Continue reading

Amazon’s 100 Books: Just the Free eBooks

Recently Amazon released their own recommendation list of “100 books you must read before you die”. I must confess it is a somewhat lack-lustre collection, containing both the obvious entries, along with plenty of oddities. Amazon do claim that they’ve tried to cover all age groups and genres to give a balanced collection, that however hasn’t stopped plenty of people complaining about it, especially as there are no books older than two hundred years in the list, and only a handful of those we’re published more than one hundred years ago.

It’s amusing how many people are complaining about this selection (any search engine will easily find them if you’re so inclined) but I think most are forgetting one thing about this reading list; the recommendations have been made by Amazon, a company who’s sole purpose is to make as much money as possible. Obviously they’re not going to include too many classics, they want you to go and buy these books from them, not pop off to sites like epubBooks and download them for free.

Continue reading

Drablr Writing Competition

Do you like writing?
Do you like writing Flash Fiction?
Would you like to win a £100 Amazon voucher?

Over on Drablr.com I’m currently running a drabble writing competition where you can win £100 (~ $160) and all you need to do is write a drabble based on the New Year’s Resolution theme.

Once you’ve submitted your drabble (this is done automatically by just using “New Year’s Resolution” – singular or plural spellings allowed – in the title) you just need to promote it heavily to you fans and friends (i.e. Facebook Twitter, etc.) and the drabble with the most drablr votes wins the prize.

The competition ends next week – January 31, 2014 – so there’s still plenty of time to write and promote your drabble. The full competition details can be found on the Drablr Blog. So, head over to drablr.com, sign-up for your Drablr account and start writing!

What is a Drabble?

A drabble is a form of Flash Fiction, but with the added challenge that it must be exactly 100 words in length. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it;

A drabble is an extremely short work of fiction of exactly one hundred words in length, not necessarily including the title. The purpose of the drabble is brevity, testing the author’s ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.

Drabbles can be about any subject you like such as being action stories, erotic fantasies or romantic liaisons, but most importantly when writing a drabble, you should have fun writing them.

Developing your writing craft comes with practice, and drabbles are a fun way to practice it.

There’s a great article on how to write a drabble from author and drablr, Michael Brookes, who has a knack for always coming out with great drabbles.

Search Feature Enabled

When I launched the site rebuild last month I’d removed the search feature on epubBooks so that I could get the new site out the door as soon as possible. I had a few emails asking when this would be back. I’m pleased to say that I’ve now added back the search feature!

This is still a very simple implementation and certainly needs to be more user friendly (i.e. ignore pluralization so that we return more results) but I can roll out those kinds of features over the coming weeks.

Thanks to everyone for not giving up on epubBooks during this big change.

Tips on how to Get Free eBooks

With the recent changes to epubBooks I removed the option to search the popular ebook stores for free EPUB books – titles now found on epubBooks are still free, but are direct downloads only.

Lots of people are now wanting to know how to get free ebooks from those popular sites like Kobo, eBooks.com, Diesel-eBooks, etc. To help with that, I’ve now created a special page with tips on how to navigate those sites to find all their free ebooks.

So, head over to my epubBooks Free eBooks tips page … and happy searching!

New epubBooks: Mobile First Design

I’m pleased to announce the brand new, ground-up rebuild of epubBooks! For this release I wanted to create a design with an emphasis on mobile users, which will give a much improved experience to those with tablets and smartphones.

Over the last coupe of years the type of visitor coming to epubBooks.com has been more and more mobile based, with almost 60% using the site on a smartphone or tablet — the old design didn’t work too well on any device with a screen resolution less than 1024 px, which meant anyone viewing the site on an iPhone, Windows Phone, or any other small screened device had a difficult time reading the text and navigation the site. Even those of you on 7 inch tablets, like the Google Nexus, spent a lot of time zooming in and out.

The new site uses what’s called a responsive layout, which means that the page sections move to best fit whatever screen size you’re on; text and some images will resize, especially for those smartphones with screens of just 480px. Continue reading

PressBooks: self-publishing via WP

Yesterday I discovered an interesting new self-publishing platform called PressBooks. What caught my attention was that this is built upon the popular WordPress blogging platform. As authors generally already run their own WP Blog, this should make it a very familiar and easy to use system for most people.

Although it is possible to import a previously made ebook (EPUB) the core premise of the platform is that you write your book on PressBooks.com itself. You get all the same styling and formatting tools found in WordPress, along with the WP auto-save and versioning support, and as all web browsers come with a built dictionary, you also get your spellcheck for free.

Each book section (chapter/part/introduction/etc.) is written as a separate post, which may make editing somewhat difficult, but after a few minutes of playing it does all seem very straightforward. Continue reading

Drablr: A new self-publishing platform

We live in a connected world; emails, social networks, endless Twitter updates, all of which like nothing better than to soak up our precious time. For years there’s been articles and studies stating that we’ve all forgotten how to read long form text*. So, if we have neither the time nor motivation to sit and read novels and other long works, how are we to get our fiction fix?

Perhaps sir and madame would like to try our Drabble menu?

Noun
drabble (plural drabbles)

  • A fictional story that is exactly 100 words long.

The purpose of a drabble is brevity, testing the author’s ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.

Earlier this year I discovered the world of the Drabble while reading the newsletters from the Elite:Dangerous Kickstarter campaign, which included many 100-word stories written by Michael Brookes and various other authors. In fact, I enjoyed them so much I went and built Drablr.com; a website dedicated to the Drabble.

Drablr is a self-publishing social network for authors who like the challenges of 100-word (micro) fiction, and is similar in functionality to Twitter and Tumblr. It’s still very new and very much in the Beta phase, so for the moment only invited authors can post Drabbles. Still, anyone can sign up, read Drabbles, vote, comment, and follow authors.

There’s plenty of features still to be added but why not come along, sign up, and enjoy some great fiction while they’re still hot.

Sign up for an account here; Drablr.com – streaming Drabbles 100 words at a time.

* Not that I agree with these arguments.