Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The PDF as E-Book

The bulk of e-books sold these days (or distributed free, for that matter) are in one of the ‘reflowable’ formats: Amazon’s AZW Kindle or the open source EPUB, most commonly. MOBI, the parent format of Kindle, is also out there, retaining some popularity. All of these are essentially containers for HTML files; there is nothing wrong with a book in unpackaged HTML, whether for reading online or for downloading, and these can be read in pretty much any browser.

We try to offer our books both as EPUBs—our preference—and as Kindle. The latter, simply because so much book traffic passes through Amazon. Not as much, I think, as some would suggest. There are a great many EPUBs being distributed that are not being tracked and counted.

But there is also the venerable PDF. Every book that is printed has probably been in PDF format at some point. That’s what printers mostly work from these days. But as an e-book, the PDF has a much smaller audience. Its fixed, non-reflowable pages do not lend themselves to Kindles and other readers and tablets. On the other hand, if one reads on a computer, whether laptop or desktop, they can look very good and much more like a ‘real’ book. I prefer them personally.

We used to offer dedicated PDF versions of all our books for reading on computers (or elsewhere, if desired), directly from our store. Very few of the online vendors bother with them, Google being one exception. They sold poorly—when at all—and cluttered our store, so we dropped them. The PDF also has the disadvantage of being a somewhat larger file than the typical e-book, with or without illustrations.

But it has the advantage of looking the way we intended. The correct typefaces in the correct places, properly sized and placed illustrations, header and footer, fixed page numbers, etc. In other words, like a print book. This, we feel, is especially advantageous for books for children. A Kindle picture book is not going to cut it (not that toddlers should really be reading PDFs on your computer either). Our early reader chapter books are available as print and PDF, not in any reflowable format.

PDFs are superior for ‘how-to’ books, manuals, instructions, as well. Anything with lots of illustrations. And though poetry works well enough in the standard e-book formats, it really can be presented more effectively in the fixed-page PDF. The novel, admittedly, works quite well as Kindle or EPUB.

We note that the PDF has a certain popularity with the ‘literary’ world. Perhaps because those who inhabit that world spend a lot of time in front of computer screens. What I’m getting at here is that we are going to start offering more of our titles for download as PDFs. A few are already available free in that format and we will add to those, when we can, as we can. The next will be Stephen Brooke’s collection of fantasy short stories, ‘Lands Far Away.’ It was always intended that the digital version would be free (as are his poetry collections) with a print book available for purchase.

How soon we might make novels available in PDF form in our own store is uncertain. It will happen but may take some time to roll out and include all our titles. This will be part of the process of changing the distribution of all our e-books, as we are no longer going to use Lulu for that service. Essentially, EPUB and PDF will be available at our store at Lulu and as a few free titles at our site, and Kindle books may be purchased at Amazon. Of course, print will continue to be distributed ‘everywhere.’

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Update on Distribution

We have worked out a future distribution plan for our ebooks (print will remain as is). First, we are able to announce that Stephen Brooke's CITY OF WIZARDRY is now available as a Kindle offering at: 

We had been attempting to get this straightened out with Lulu's distribution since August! We chose to finally place it at Amazon directly, using their desk top conversion software. It does not allow as much customization as creating an epub (with Calibre and Sigil) but it looks perfectly good and the process is much more straightforward than most. We will do this with all future offerings and, eventually, go back through the rest of our catalog. There is no great hurry on the latter, and books already in distribution can continue so indefinitely.

And, to be sure, we will continue to sell direct from our store at Lulu, in epub format (linked from our own site, of course). That and Amazon may be our only two ebook outlets in the future; dealing with Google Books, Barnes and Noble, etc seems more trouble and time than is practical but we'll see about that. There are three advantages to this streamlined approach. First, the simplicity of just getting the books out there. Second, Lulu will no longer get a cut of the ebooks they distribute for us, and Third, we do not need to invest in an ISBN for the ebook editions. All this is to the good. Expect our next release, WHEN MAN WAS YOUNG, to appear at Amazon on schedule, by March 20.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Releases Through Summer



Releases dates for books from Arachis Press through August 2021:

When Man Was Young - a science fiction novel from Stephen Brooke - March 20
The Moon and I - a poetry collection from Stephen Brooke - May 15
Among the Many Worlds - a science fiction novel from Oliver Davis Pike - June 19
Lands Far Away - a short story collection from Stephen Brooke - Aug 7