Friday, March 4, 2011

Attempts at E-Book Publishing

Later in the semester, I'll be putting my Center for the Book final project online as both a POD (print on demand) book and a e-book. Since I wasn't sure whether or not one platform would publish to all e-bookstores, I am testing it out with my conference paper from ALA Annual last year, and thought I would share the results with you.
Lulu is the place where I will most likely be creating the POD version of my book, and so it would be easy to turn that into an e-book too. It looks like Lulu only sells in the iBookstore, which means you have to assign it an ISBN and you have to put a price on it. I want to sell my UICB book as I am planning on giving half the proceeds back to the department, but I want to just give my conference paper away. Since I uploaded a PDF rather an an ePub document, I don't have to mess with the iBookstore's minimum price (99 cents).
Setting everything up is easy: I selected 'sell everywhere' which requires you to have an ISBN (Lulu gives you a free one on the next page). I think the ISBN lists Lulu as the retailer, which makes me wonder if it's usable on other e-book sites. For the record, mine is:
In order to sell in the iBookstore, you have to have your document in ePub format (mine isn't). It looks like it's just a matter of converting the document to html, dropping some xml in there, and bundling it all up, but I'm a bit short on time this week to spend too much time messing with that. So, I put it up there as a PDF, which means it won't be in the iBookstore BUT 
The rest of the process was easy: design a cover based on a few templates, add metadata, etc. BIG kudos to Lulu for including multiple licensing options: I heaved a sigh of frustration when seeing a field for copyright, but was relieved immediately to see that you got to choose from standard copyright, GNU, CC, public domain, or a custom license. More kudos are due for the option to let readers share your book (if you don't want to share the book, it adds 25 cents to the price readers pay for your book).
To get the PDF for free on Lulu, go to this link!
I love my Kindle, and I definitely wanted to make my paper available to Kindle users. I already was impressed with the Kindle store after setting up my blogs for publication (I later discovered that it isn't an option on all e-readers when I tried to set them up in the Nook store). For Kindle, you have to provide tax information, which I didn't have to do for Lulu. Amazon loses some kudos for not giving a range of licensing options: either you have copyright or it's in the public domain. Since I'm not sure the logistics behind this stuff (and I'd already tacked rights onto the other one) I selected to retain copyright, but it makes me feel a bit unhappy. They do get some serious kudos though for automatically converting files to the format they want them in. The conversion did not work *at all* with .doc or .pdf file extensions, but it worked reasonably well with a plain text (.txt) file, although there are still a few errors here and there. I was also pretty upset that it wouldn't let me publish for free (and in order to publish for 99 cents I had to opt to take hardly any royalties.) It definitely makes me less thrilled about the idea of publishing with them in the future, which is a shame because their e-reader is so nice. The paper is currently 'under review' but I'll post a link when it's available there. Another option for Kindle users? Go to Lulu and download the PDF for free. I'll try to get the document up on Gutenberg and a few other places too.


  1. The program Calibre is an eBook converter that turns any format into another one. It's free and pretty cool. My eBooks on my blog were all converted using that.

  2. Thanks Andy! I'll have to give it a look--definitely would be easier than messing with all those format changes myself.