For the last couple of weeks I have been having lots of fun with EPUB.
No, EPUB is not a type of digital drinking establishment, although goodness knows at the end of the project I could have used a drink. EPUB is a type of file format for e-books.
What’s this EPUB stuff all about? You probably know that my novel, The Lost King, is available not only as a print edition (you can find it at the Port Aransas Art Center) but also on amazon.com as an electronic edition, i.e. a Kindle book. Those who don’t have a Kindle reader can download a “Kindle for PC” app and read Kindle books on their computer or laptop. There are also “Kindle for iPhone” and “Kindle for iPad” apps.
Kindle books are in a proprietary format whereas Nook and other e-books use a format called EPUB. In this format, there are no fixed pages like there are in print books, or even other digital formats. The EPUB format allows the book’s content to reflow based on the size of the e-reader. So an EPUB book will look good on an e-reader regardless of the device’s dimensions.
I had for some months intended to get The Lost King out in other ebook formats and on to smashwords.com. Smashwords is an e-book distribution platform. A book on Smashwords is made available to Nook, Kobo and numerous other e-book outlets in formats other than the one Kindle uses.
I was under the impression that my book needed to be in EPUB format in order to be available on Smashwords. I spent a good few days having fun with the EPUB conversion. It took four new programs and several colorful metaphors but I finally produced an attractive EPUB file. Head held high, I marched up to the Smashwords Web site to find that no, Smashwords does NOT want an EPUB file.
I uttered a few more imprecations, then told myself if nothing else I now had a new skill. I could do an EPUB file conversion.
Instead of an EPUB file Smashwords wants a Microsoft Word manuscript. Sounds easy, right? Hold on there, E-book Breath. This isn’t just any Microsoft Word manuscript. It’s one that’s formatted according to Smashwords’ 108-page style guide. The guide wasn’t cryptic or hard to follow, not at all. It WAS time consuming to format (or should I say de-format) my manuscript to meet the specs.
A week later I could proudly say that I had acquired ANOTHER new skill. I can now prep a manuscript that passes Smashwords’ Autovetter, the automated technology that inspects the manuscript for problematic formatting errors. Even better, The Lost King passed the reviewers’ assessments and is now in the Premium Catalog. It has been shipped and will soon be available on Nook, Kobo, Apple iBooks and other e-book sites. Watch this space for the announcement. (Or, if you find it before I do, let me know.)