Specialists in print and digital publications for . . .

Our services

We provide a comprehensive range of services for print and digital media (websites, eBooks, eMags, flipbooks, CDs and DVDs):

  • Design
  • Layout
  • Typesetting
  • eBooks (ePub and Kindle)
  • Technical illustration
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Website development
  • Prepress
  • Print management
  • Multimedia management

The Seven Deadly Sins

Ask ten proofreaders or editors their seven pet hates, and no doubt you’ll end up with seventy rather than seven examples. In fact, we had quite an argument here at Sunset as we tried to narrow the list down to just seven! Here’s what we ended up with:

1. Lead/led

2. Everyday/Every day

3. It’s/Its

4. Alright/All right

5. Stationery/Stationary

6. Foreword/Forward

7. Separate/Seperate

Through the minefield: a guide for the self-publisher

Author: The Sunset Team Part Two: eBook publishing

kindle-touch

Our last instalment ended with a brief outline of the benefits of eBook publishing, but it would be worthwhile to re-state those benefits in more detail:

  • Because no commercial printing is involved, production costs are lowered considerably. Furthermore, if a ‘must-fix’ mistake happens to slip through, the consequences are minor. (A physical book might need an expensive reprint, but an eBook can be easily corrected and the new version uploaded at next to no cost.)
  • Marketing costs are also reduced, because most eBook marketing is carried out through online book stores, your own website or social networking. As part of your marketing strategy you might choose to give part of your book away free (selected pages or a chapter), providing a ‘teaser’ for prospective clients.
  • Warehousing costs are almost non-existent, being limited to a few megabytes of space on a Web server.
  • Distribution costs are also negligible, for obvious reasons.
  • eBooks have existed for many years, but in recent years they have gone mainstream. The eBook’s future is now assured, a fact reflected in the sales of eReaders such as the Kindle, Kobo, Sony and Nook – and, of course, multifunction devices such as the iPad.

Before we get carried away, however, we must recognise that there are also drawbacks to eBook publishing.

  • Online marketing techniques are constantly changing, which means the self-publisher must be prepared to keep abreast of these changes and adapt to them as necessary. It goes without saying that eBook publishing requires a degree of familiarity with the Internet.
  • Digital files are vulnerable to piracy. While Digital Rights Management (DRM) techniques exist to restrict eBooks to authorised users, experience shows that piracy is difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate.

eBook readers and formats

Reading devices

As we noted in our introduction, it’s taken a while for eBooks to become a truly viable option, but there now exists a plethora of eReaders available to book lovers – and prices have dropped dramatically. Best known are Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, the Kobo, and the Sony Reader. With Amazon’s massive slice of the online book market to back it up, the Kindle is undoubtedly well placed to maintain its current leadership position, but that position is by no means guaranteed. Many other online book stores are now selling their own eReaders, and Apple has also emerged as a major competitor.

 

iPhone with Stanza

Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch have always been popular as eBook readers, with many Apple customers initially used Lexcycle’s Stanza book-reading software, but Apple now has its own iBooks software, and a large and growing online book store to back it up. iBooks has now become the leading eBook software for Apple’s mobile devices, including the very popular iPad, which is an excellent book-reading device amongst its many other uses.

The iPad, together with the many competing tablets it has spawned, has produced significant changes in the eReader market. Most dedicated eReader manufacturers now include colour ‘touch’ models in their range, a move which has enhanced the reading experience considerably.

eBook formats

PDF (Portable Document Format)

PDF is the oldest eBook format and has the advantage of preserving complex layouts, fonts and graphics exactly as the designer intended them to be seen. PDFs can be read with free Adobe Reader software on computers running Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems. Nearly all computers purchased in the last decade will have Adobe Reader already installed and ready to use.

PDF is also supported natively by the Macintosh operating system, files being viewable with the installed Preview software.

Adobe’s Digital Editions software can also read PDFs and has an interface geared more towards eBook libraries than the older Adobe Reader software. In addition, Adobe Digital Editions uses Digital Rights Management (DRM), which is required by some publishers to prevent unauthorised copying of books. DRM can be used to protect PDFs and ePub books (see below) intended for use with Digital Editions.

Many dedicated eBook readers also support PDF, but the reading experience on their small screens can be frustrating. Nevertheless, PDFs are quite satisfactory for the larger tablet devices, including the iPad. The disadvantage is that the text in a PDF is not reflowable, as with the more recent formats.

AZW (Kindle)

Amazon’s books use a DRM-protected variant of the ‘Mobipocket’ format called AZW. To read an AZW file, you will need either a Kindle Reader from Amazon, or the free Kindle software for your computer or mobile device’s operating system. Note, however, that the only dedicated eReader that supports AZW is the Kindle itself. This makes it a ‘closed’ format; however, as mentioned below, Kindles can read unprotected Mobipocket (MOBI) files.

ePub

ePub is an open eBook format developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum. It can be read using a range of computer programs, including Adobe Digital Editions, Bluefire, Calibre, and the Firefox web browser plugin OpenBerg Lector.

Most importantly, however, ePub is the format used by the vast majority of eReader devices and is the most common format used for books available from online book stores (with the exception of Amazon, of course).

IBA

A recent and very exciting development has been the development by Apple of a proprietary format, IBA, for the production of digital textbooks. Broadly based on ePub, IBA can include video, audio, and animated diagrams. Designed to be read on the iPad and sold through Apple’s online book store, the format has the potential to revolutionise the textbook market and we are keenly following its development. We invite enquiries from education publishers and academics, as we are currently working with Apple’s textbook authoring software, iBooks Author, and seeking strategic alliances with animators and video production companies.

Mobipocket

Mobipocket (MOBI) is a widely supported eBook format and, as mentioned above, is the format on which Amazon’s AZW is based. In their DRM-unprotected form, Mobipocket files can be read on the Kindle as well as many other eReaders.

Other formats

There are a large number of other eBook formats, though many of them are of historical interest only. Wikipedia provides a comprehensive list here. Should you require an eBook in any of these formats, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Our advice

Many self-publishers will require both a printed version of their book as well as an eBook, and this can be an attractive option as it costs less to produce an eBook from an already completed press-ready file than it does to produce it from scratch. Nevertheless, eBook-only publishing is the most economical option of all, as it avoids the cost of typesetting and prepress work – and, of course, printing. Either way, we can provide a competitive quotation backed up by Sunset’s expertise and reputation in the book publishing market.

In order to give your book the widest exposure, we recommend that you request both an ePub and a MOBI version. That way, you can sell the book on Amazon and a wide range of other online book stores.

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