software

Book2Look logo

Where to Use Book2Look Biblet and Add a Preview Book Option

Following a openday at Nielsen BookData where they introduced the Book2Look biblets (http://www.book2look.com) we immediately got some for our books. The Book2Look biblets are ‘the most advanced online marketing tool available for publishers’. We’d seen them before in the Nielsen newsletters but had initially thought the starter package of £150 for 5 was the price each and an annual price, but it wasn’t – it was a one-off price for the starter offer for a total of 5 biblets, once that was resolved we got them immediately and it is nice to be amongst the early adopters of a new tool.
We then had to decide exactly where we were going to use them. They give a book sample, as long a sample as you want, and incorporate links to shopping options, and to reviews. And they come with pre-generated QR codes. As well as giving give feedback options for reviews and comments and allow sharing and embedding options.

Examples of what the biblet looks like and how we’ve used the QR code – both link to here when selected http://book2look.com/book/ZrFHGPVxgR

Book2Look widget image for Inspector Hobbes and the Blood by Wilkie Martin

Book2Look widget image for Inspector Hobbes and the Blood by Wilkie Martin
Click to read an extract

Book2Look look inside Inspector Hobbes and the Blood by Wilkie Martin

Read some of Inspector Hobbes and the Blood by Wilkie Martin now in the Book2Look book preview widget
Scan and open the link to get to the biblet and read an extract

This is a list of where we’ve used them so far:

  1. this website, on the individual books page
  2. this website, on the shop page as it offers other places to buy the book
  3. this website, on the home page with latest information
  4. on authors’ website, on the home page
  5. on authors’ website, on the book pages
  6. on authors’ blog posts
  7. on our twitter feed and author twitter feeds
  8. on authors goodreads profile
  9. in goodreads on book information pages
  10. in goodreads giveaway details
  11. in goodreads ads
  12. on our facebook page
  13. on author facebook pages
  14. in facebook ads
  15. on book pages on iauthor platform
  16. on leaflets as QR code
  17. on bookmarks as QR code
  18. inside print and ebook as link and/or QR code on ads for related books
  19. inside print and ebook as link to current book for sharing and comment options
  20. on netgalley promotion pages
  21. in news releases
  22. in press briefing documents
  23. provided to book bloggers
  24. in email texts
  25. our own blog posts

Example of how we used the QR code in the back pages of the books.

Example of Book2Look QR code and link for ebook

Example of Book2Look QR code and link for ebook

We’ve probably missed some, so we may add to this list when we think of them. The QR codes can be scanned from the QR image when it is displayed on  e-readers or in print (in the book/leaflets etc).

Or here are some other places we’ve thought about but not tried yet:

  1. on t-shirts (promotional materials) as QR code
  2. on business cards as QR code
  3. in brochures as QR codes
  4. on banners, posters and dump-bins as QR codes
  5. on AI information sheets as QR codes
  6. in email signature blocks
  7. shelfari and other book websites
  8. in author profiles on other websites (provided the site doesn’t have its own options for previewing the book)
  9. in ebook metadata

If you have other suggestions for good places to use them then please let us know.

Nielsen are hoping to eventually incorporate them into the data they supply to bookshops so that it gives these shops the preview options.

For more information on Book2Look see the Nielsen website http://www.nielsenbookdata.co.uk/controller.php?page=88


13 November 2014


Definitions

AI – advance information sheet, sent to bookshops

biblet – the Book2Look widget

dump-bin – book/series/publisher specific display stands

metadata –  collection of data that describes a book (author, description, title, genre etc)

QR – quick response code. Scan with camera in mobile and go to direct to the linked website (via QR code reader)

iauthor, shelfari, netgalley – websites

Nielsen – the helpful ISBN  and bookdata people

ePUB logo

ePUB to MOBI in 5 Steps on Windows Platform

Here is a simple method showing how to convert your book from ePUB into a MOBI file for Amazon Kindles. It can use the same steps as for a conversion from MS Word. If you have a lot of photos and pictures, or weird or fixed layouts then this won’t be quite right for you, but if you have a text or fiction book with a few pictures this should be fine.

  1. Download Amazon’s KindleGen program (http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000765211). Get the latest version. Save it to the same directory/folder as the epub file you  want to migrate.
  2. Create a new text file and call it runkindlegen.bat. Put the following text into it (change the two names “your html file.epub”  and “your book name.mobi”) and save the file.

    @echo off
    “kindlegen.exe” “your html file.epub” -c2 -o “your book name.mobi” -verbose
    pause

  3. To create the .MOBI just double-click on the runkindlegen.bat file you have created. It will open a small black command window and as ‘verbose’ is set it will list any errors, warnings and information messages on the screen.
  4. Go through the messages and look for any that start Wxxx or Exxx. You can ignore the ones that start Ixxxx as these are just for information. If you don’t include a cover file then there will be at least one warning message for the missing cover. For any other messages check to see what the problem is and if you can fix it.
  5. Download and install Amazon’s Kindle Previewer (http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000765261), and use it to check the .MOBI file loads and reads ok.

The KindleGen program page (http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000765211) has some help options if you want more control on the formatting.

If the ePUB includes a cover, then if you’re planning on uploading the MOBI file to Amazon then you should remove the cover from the ePUB first otherwise you end up with two covers.

Good luck.


19 October 2014

MS Word to MOBI in 7 Steps on Windows Platform

Here is a simple method showing how to convert your book from MS Word into a MOBI file for Amazon Kindles. If you have a lot of photos and pictures, or weird layouts then this won’t be quite right for you, but if you have a text or fiction book with a few pictures this should be fine.

  1. Make sure your book is nice and tidy in MS Word first. That you have consistent fonts, and not too many of them etc. If you are planning to load the .MOBI to Amazon then you don’t need to have the cover in the file as this is loaded separately and added to the file by Amazon.
  2. Use the ‘save as’ option to save as type ‘Web Page Filtered’.
  3. Download Amazon’s KindleGen program (http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000765211). Get the latest version. Save it to the same directory/folder as the html file you created in step 2.
  4. Create a new text file and call it runkindlegen.bat. Put the following text into it (change the two names “your html file from step2.htm”  and “your book name.mobi”) and save the file.

    @echo off
    “kindlegen.exe” “your html file from step2.htm” -c2 -o “your book name.mobi” -verbose
    pause

  5. To create the .MOBI just double-click on the runkindlegen.bat file you have created. It will open a small black command window and as ‘verbose’ is set it will list any errors, warnings and information messages on the screen.
  6. Go through the messages and look for any that start Wxxx or Exxx. You can ignore the ones that start Ixxxx as these are just for information. If you don’t include a cover file then there will be at least one warning message for the missing cover. For any other messages check to see what the problem is and if you can fix it.
  7. Download and install Amazon’s Kindle Previewer (http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000765261), and use it to check the .MOBI file loads and reads ok.

And that’s it. The KindleGen program page (http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000765211) has some help options if you want to control the formatting a bit more.

Good luck.


17 September 2014

ePUB logo

Building an ePUB with QuarkXpress 9.5.4 and Sigil

There are many ways to get to an ePUB – this covers just one way of building them and is the method we’ve used. It may not be the best or most efficient, and it also requires a number of software packages. Though if you are interested in what you are getting for your money from an ePUB conversion site, then they will be doing something along these lines (not necessarily using the same packages or applying the same checks).

Because ePUBs can be read on many different device types, on many different readers, by apps, on phones, and on computers, our start position was to make sure we had text that was as clean as possible, so before we started we first made sure the book used as few layouts and formats as it could. We’d done this already when building the files for the paperback and kindle format. First we made sure the paragraph formats were consistent, that tabs, fonts, indents, spacing etc were using as few different types as possible and that these were all the same. Then we looked for a tool to convert the ePUB. The one we decided to use was QuarkXpress 9, (which we upgraded to 9.5.4.1, but has to be at least 9.2). It was a disappointing tool as it required workarounds but did do the job in the end, and with practice is actually quicker than the number of steps listed below imply. The books being converted by the approach below are fiction English novels with only a couple of images. The aim was to put in as little html as is needed, and as far as possible use the default settings in the ereader, so that any settings the ereader lets the user update and control will be reflected in your book.

  1. start with as clean a book text as you can get to
  2. go through the layouts and see how many different paragraph and format types you need. We had the following:
    – heading page – title text
    – heading page – subtitle text
    – heading page – author byline
    – heading page – company title
    – title verso page – text
    – copyright page – text
    – chapters – heading
    – chapters – para one (no indent)
    – chapters – main pages (indent)
    – chapters – end para (indent, plus space after)
    – chapters – special text for a letter
    – figure – for pictures and logos
  3. give each format a name from the standard QuarkXpress layouts allowed in style.css (in the folder \QuarkXpress9\XTensions\DigitalPublishing\Templates\css)- which aren’t many and aren’t changeable within QuarkXpress (however with a workaround they can be changed so that they are used during the export, but not the display). The choices are:
    – body
    – byline
    – figure
    – figure-caption
    – figure-credit
    – indented-para
    – pullquote
    – title1
    – title2
    – chapter-name
    – headline1
    – headline2
  4. select one of each of these standard formats and assign one to each of the formats you want in the document
  5. QuarkXpress style.css also contains text formats which we kept as they were: bold, strikethrough, strikethrough-and-underline, superscript, subscript, superior
  6. amend the QuarkXpress style.css file to give the format you want for each of the layouts, set the indent, spacing, font size, weight etc – this will only be applied when you export the file to an ePUB – when you look at it in QuarkXpress it will show the standard layouts so it won’t look as you want it to until you export it.
  7. load your text into QuarkXPress
  8. split the text into chapters (articles and components), and fix any errors during the load – for instance cutting and pasting your text into the reflow view will lose some formatting like italics so reset those if you have/want them
  9. load your cover (if you want one, some ebook loaders want the cover separate to the epub file)
  10. go through all the text and allocate the format you want (that will link to your new format in style.css) to each of the paragraphs, or text you want to control. This is a manual process that requires going through the whole file.
  11. setup the metadata for the file
  12. enter the table of contents information, or select the data to be used ofr the table of contents (we use the article names)
  13. export the file to ePUB – this will use your new style.css
  14. check this layout in as many ePUB viewers as you can
  15. get some ePUB reading devices and test it in these too. Calibre (http://calibre-ebook.com/) is a useful tool for loading your manually built ePUB onto many different ereaders
  16. We found a few problems with the file generated that then needed a further step to fix them:
    – if underlined text included non-underlined spaces within the text these didn’t export correctly and needed to be fixed manually afterwards by amending the html,
    – any embedded non-breaking characters didn’t always render correctly depending upon the ereader so we removed them,
    – if there was a change of font (or anything in a span) followed by punctuation, then that punctuation could wrap around to the next line – we resolved this by moving the punctuation to within the span command
    – not all ereaders render centered text the same, so we had to use a combination of centered within the style.css format PLUS use a span set to centered for all the text
  17. the metadata and text wasn’t quite how we wanted it so we used Sigil (https://code.google.com/p/sigil/) to finish the job:
    – to add more metadata settings
    – to remove the any position set to absolute (in toc.css)
    – add html links to any https contained in the text
    – add descriptions to any image files
    – remove numbers in the toc.css style for the toc entries
    – remove ‘style=”padding-left:30px;”‘ which was added into the html for all formats
    – change the title from h1 to h3
    – remove the additional css files (horizontal.css and vertical.css)
    – add a span format for centered text
    – in the first text file (Flow_2.html) amend body from
    <body class=”body”>
    to
    <body class=”body” id=”startpos”>
    – in the content.opf file in the ePUB, add a control for the first text file
    <reference href=”Text/Flow_2.html” title=”1″ type=”text” />
    – find all centered text and add the span command around your text
  18. depending upon the distributor service you use then it may be necessary to remove the cover image from the file as some like to handle this separately
  19. next validate the ePUB file
    – use Sigil’s option for FlightCrew validation to check the file
    – use Sigil’s options for W3 validation checks
    – use the online ePubValidator (http://validator.idpf.org/) to check your file format is ok
  20. amend anything that comes up in the checks. If necessary go back to the QuarkXpress file and amend it there, re-export it and reapply the changes post export

Even though we checked and rechecked the files we still had a final error – which rather annoyingly showed up on one of the ereaders we’d actually used to validate the files which had shown there was no problem. This was because the ePUB then goes through the formatter for the ereader delivery/retail site and they may add/amend the files slightly. This is why the centered text needs more than one approach.

Although we weren’t very impressed with needing to use a workaround to get a useable ePUB file out of QuarkXpress, in the end it was pretty straightforward to do, and with practice relatively quick as well.

You don’t especially need QuarkXpress to generate the ePUB file. Although we went that route as it is an industry standard package, we actually found that the ePUB files generated from the donation based package Calibre were actually also pretty clean (with little spurious html that could be rendered incorrectly by ereaders) – although the files generated did have much larger css files. In fact Calibre got one thing right that QuarkXpress didn’t – embedded non-underlined spaces next to underlined text was correct in Calibre.

Also, if you only have one or two ePUB to convert and you do want to use QuarkXpress (or Adobe InDesign) then have a look at their 30-day trial offers, or have a look at offers on eBay first as they are expensive packages, or both now offer options for their latest packages from the cloud (SaaS) but again this is pretty expensive.

Good luck with your conversions.


Definitions:

absolute position – an html command that gives a specific location for the text/picture

article, component – a QuarkXpress terms for subsections of the publication

centered – text/pictures that appear in the middle of the page (using American spelling)

css – cascading style sheet – a common holding place for the html commands used to control the layout

embed – contained with

ePUB – electronic publication, a zipped file containing files for each book chapter and layout files that make up an e-book

html – command language within <> brackets that controls the layout of webpages, and ePUB files

html links – the web page address for the page being referred to

h1, h3 – html commands for the main heading and the (normally) smaller heading no 3

metadata – the collection of values that are used to describe the ePUB file, its title, description, ISBN etc

SaaS – software as a service – software that is held on the cloud

span – an html command that control layout for a small set of text within the commands

toc – table of contents


17 August 2014
amended 25 September 2014