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 New epubBooks: Mobile First Design
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 PressBooks: self-publishing via WP
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?
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.
Since epubBooks had its first major facelift back in May we’ve received a great deal of positive feedback. However, the one question that’s continually asked was when our ebook search features would be made available to countries other than the U.S.
I’m pleased to announce that epubBooks.com now supports ebook catalogues for two additional countries; United Kingdom and Australia.
Most people will be automatically directed to the appropriate pages but just in case this doesn’t work for you, then you should scroll to the bottom of the homepage, click the “Change region” button and select your country. Visitors from Great Britain will now have all the prices displayed in GBP, and like-wise Australia will have AUD.
Continue reading New Countries Supported: UK & AU
A few weeks back Barnes & Noble released their hugely successful Nook eReader in the UK. To help them promote their reader to the Brits they’ve partnered with a large number of existing retailers, which will mean you’ll be able to buy the Nook from over 2,500 locations throughout the UK including; Argos, Asda, Blackwell’s, Dixon’s, Foyles and Sainsbury’s.
One of the big advantages with the Nook, as with Amazon’s Kindle, is that you can buy books directly from the device itself. However, and unfortunately for us, B&N charge for many of their classics (as much as 3.99!), but not to fear. Here on epubBooks.com we have all the most popular classics and all of which are free to download and read. Continue reading Reading Free EPUB books on the Nook
My recent reading list included several books which shared the same feature: there was a lot of historical geography inside. Not that the historical geography was the subject of any of them, but the series of unfamiliar and half-familiar place-names were long enough to get lost in. Still, though all of them were in this or that electronic format, the situation was no better than with paper books: either there were a few pictures with maps inserted as usual illustrations or, in worse cases, there were no maps at all. So, I want to talk about that a bit.
I will not discuss here the cases where a big and complex and detailed map is needed, such as in J.R.R.Tolkien’s books; It’s a serious matter as well, but it’s a different matter.
Maybe sooner or later a dedicated solution will appear in EPUB for custom maps. Sure, maps can be tolerably implemented using images, especially vector images; but so can formulas, and still we have MathML; history books (which need custom maps more often then not) are no worse then maths books after all. Continue reading Maps and More: Visual Annotation of EPUB books
Many long-standing visitors to epubBooks will certainly have noticed that I’d released an update to the site a few months back which added plenty of new functionality, along with a nice update to the styling. Although a new design, it was only a Beta and so was released with little fanfare.
Today’s update has fixed a large number of bugs from that release, added some more design tweaks, and a whole bunch of improvements to the search algorithms.
The original epubBooks.com (live since 2008) was merely a simple catalog for browsing the free EPUB Classics that were (and still are) available for download. It served its purpose well, but demand for more modern titles and better search features led me to re-think not only the design, but the core purpose of the site. Limited time and resources have made it difficult to achieve all that I’d like but I think the site now has some interesting features. Continue reading New epubBooks Now Live!
Let us format a mouse’s tail.
There’s a good reason for it: Wikipedia says, and I see no reason to disbelieve, that exactly 150 years ago (July 4th, 1862) Lewis Carroll told the daughters of his colleague the first version of the story which we now know, in written form, as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And this is, obviously, a good occasion for some formatting. There is an especially attractive piece in the named book: The Mouse’s Tale, shaped like a mouse’s tail. In my earlier article on formatting poetry for small screens, I mentioned this as an example of a poem too specific to be discussed in a general-purpose tutorial. Let me now repent and discuss it. Maybe the solution presented here will inspire some good ideas for other cases; or maybe it will just entertain someone, which isn’t so bad either.
Continue reading Formatting a Tail for EPUB: Concrete Poetry and Varying Screen Width
One EPUB formatting question which I recently got interested in was: how to create a bilingual poetry book? That is, if you want to have a book of poetry in one language with line-by-line translation to another language (to aid a reader who knows the language of the original not too well), how do you do that? In a paper book, a good and well-tried solution is to have the texts in two languages placed on the left and the right page, facing each other. For an e-book, unfortunately, that approach cannot be reused; in particular because with an e-book you usually have only one page visible at a time. Splitting the page into two columns may be acceptable for short citations, but to format a whole poetic collection in this way would be inconvenient, for the columns are somewhat too narrow in this case even on bigger devices.
Continue reading Formatting a Bilingual Poetry Collection in EPUB
Even though the specification for EPUB v3.0 was finalised last October, we’ve yet to see any production ready EPUB3 books out in the wild. The likely reason for this is that EPUB3 compatible eReaders have only come on the scene recently and without an eReader, there’s no way to test how the ebooks look – a bit of a catch-22.
Version 3.0 ebooks may seem non-existent at the moment but this will no doubt change before the end of the year, so now is a really good time to look at how we’re going to transform our Masters to EPUB3 – you do have your books in a master format right?
This last week I decided to convert one of the titles from epubBooks.com to EPUB3 and set to work on Gulliver’s Travels (download link below). I’ve only found two ways to view my newly generated EPUB3 ebook; Azardi and iBooks. Continue reading EPUB3 Books & eReaders