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Webitz - October 2010

E-book developments...

October 12th 2010 08:51
Barnes and Noble have come up with a rather oddly named e-book publishing program: Pubit! (the exclamation mark is part of the name, it seems). I came across a link to it this morning somewhere and took a look. Apparently you can do your book or journal or magazine or whatever in your own format and the Pubit! program will turn it into B&N's e-book format. Sounds very promising...

Just getting the book into any sort of format is the first issue!

And on another front, there's been a new development in the e-book reading application front, with Bluefire's arrival. As they say on their site, the most important feature is this:

Bluefire Reader supports Adobe eBook DRM because it's become an industry standard across a wide variety of booksellers and public libraries. Adobe DRM allows you to transfer books that you've purchased from many different locations between your reading devices and personal computers.

I'm not entirely au fait with DRM and industry standards in regard to e-book readers, but Martin Taylor's e-report assures me this is very good news. Read more about it on his site....
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Send to Kindle

October 5th 2010 07:27
Desktop publishing took another step forward today with the release of Amazon's Kindle for Adobe InDesign. When you download the programme you should be able to take your print-ready book and turn it into a Kindle book with a few easy flicks of the keyboard.

The following are all possible:

* Maintaining font styling information, text alignment, paragraph alignment
* Exporting images present in the book into the Kindle book
* Adding a cover page, links within the book, bullets, numbering
* Specifying the Table of Contents to use for the Kindle book
* Exporting tables
* Using the "Kindle Previewer," already available as a free download to preview the content you have created.

Sounds pretty good, huh? Sounds also as if it might be in the beta stage - the very first comment on the site notes that the tool is great but... images are displaced - pagebreaks don't work. That's kinda disheartening.

When working properly, the conversion from book format to Kindle is only supposed to take a few minutes. What Amazon doesn't mention, of course, because it's not their business, is that getting a book to print ready stage on Adobe InDesign is a huge undertaking.

When I first came into my present job, my boss wanted me to learn Adobe InDesign. I even went out and bought a copy of the manual. I also nearly went crazy. InDesign demands a technical skill level not only in terms of computing skills but in terms of having an eye for what looks good on a page.

Furthermore, even though I had a video included in the book, and even though the book was phenomenally detailed in letting you know everything that needed to be done, I never really got to grips with the thing. There was just too much information. I needed the baby version obviously; one that would produce some good-looking results without me going manic in the interim.

The end result was that we went back to Publisher for our leaflets and fancier documents. It may be limited in scope, but man, it's a lot easier to use!
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Shortening

October 4th 2010 08:49
I used to use tinyurl to shorten URLS, but it was a bit fiddly copying the original URL and then opening up the tinyurl site and copying and pasting and so on. It was usually Twitter I was working with, and that meant still more pasting.

And then along came something called Add This - their slogan was Make Sharing Easy, and certainly it was a faster process than tinyurl's. With Add This you have yet another item on your tool bar (soon there'll be no room on the browser to see the sites) and when you want to make a shortened URL for Twitter or StumbleUpon or Digg, or some other site, you just open up the page in question, click on the little button at the top of the screen and away you go. Except with the Twitter part of the program it has to open another copy of Twitter every time, which always seems to me to be a bit of double-handling. If you do several of these in a row you can wind up with Twitter tabs all over your browser.

Now Google is getting in on the act, I see. I've just been checking the site and am a bit surprised to find you need to open up another tab on your browser to access the oddly named goo.gl. Certainly it shortens things down - even smaller than tinyurl. This one takes you to a recent post on another of my blogs, and is this long: http://goo.gl/3mC8. The equivalent on tinyurl is this long: http://tinyurl.com/2329h79 - seven figures after the tinyurl.com part of the address, compared to four on the Google version.

But how long will they be able to keep that up? I think even tinyurl has found that the more people use it the longer the url has to get, and no doubt Google will find this in time, too. Tinyurl used to use more letters than figures; I see that it's now having to revert to numbers. Plus tinyurl's base address is 11 figures long, including the dot. Google has managed to get this down to six in total, which is certainly an improvement.

Here, by way of further comparison, is the Add This version of the same address: http://bit.ly/9IIX2O. It gets down to six letters, and has the advantage over tinyurl of having a short home address, like Google's.
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