I just drove to the local coffee shop, which thankfully leaves on its wi-fi even when it’s closed, and purchased a copy of my book, Values of Harry Potter, in the Kindle edition for my iPod Touch. I wanted to make sure it is functioning properly as a Kindle ebook. And it is fabulous.
Now that Amazon has built a Kindle application for the new iPad, I figure the Amazon format for ebooks will remain a major part of the market. (Amazon has also released Kindle software for the PC and Mac, and rumor has it that Amazon will start selling its Kindle machines at Target stores later this month.) So creating a Kindle edition of my book seemed like the obvious move.
I am also in the process of creating other digital versions of the book, which I will sell as a package, free from digital rights management. (As a consumer I regard DRM as extremely annoying, counterproductive, and insulting, in that DRM presumes that without it I would behave like a criminal.) I have already finished the HTML version (which I hand-coded). I am working on a hyperlinked pdf in InDesign. I also hope to produce an ePub version of the book, which is trickier than one might think. Apparently I can create an ePub version from InDesign, but I doubt it will feature the sweet functionality of my HTML version. Therefore, I may try to convert my HTML file to an ePub, which I suspect will be a real pain.
My plan is to sell a zipped file with all three digital versions for the low, low price of $7.95, the same as the Kindle price. I’ve always thought it was stupid for stores to make consumers choose among different digital versions; why not provide all the formats and let the buyer use the one most convenient for a given occasion and device? (Obviously, Kindle users may wish to buy the digital package and then send one of those files to their Kindle device, though this is a little more complicated than simply buying the Kindle version.)
Having now read large parts of two books on my iTouch, I can say that I vastly prefer to read a book digitally than on paper. I can slip my iTouch in my pocket and take it with me wherever I go. (This is not possible with the iPad.) I have to make a special effort to take a paperback. I can fit many books on my iTouch. I can hold my iTouch, and flip pages, with one hand. With the iTouch I can toggle between a book and my notes, and I don’t need to carry around pen and paper. The only disadvantage to the iTouch is that its battery can run low. The only reason I will ever again buy a paper book is if I find it used for significantly less than what I can buy it for digitally (or if it is not available digitally).
The way I formatted my ebook makes it especially useful. I’m particularly proud of two features:
1. For the Kindle and HTML version of my book, I included page numbers in brackets to match the pagination of the paperback. That way, people who want to cite my book somewhere can find the standard page numbers in the digital edition. Every publisher should do this.
2. My ebook contains hundreds of internal links (as well as links to external documents). The contents and chapter headings link back and forth. The notes link back and forth. Page numbers listed in the index link to the relevant pages. People who don’t care about any of that can just ignore it. But for any sort of scholarly use, such internal linking will be quite useful, I think.
Preparing the book for Kindle was relatively easy, once I had the HTML version completed. Indeed, Amazon prefers HTML files for conversion to the Amazon format. Aside from the fact that the conversion process added some unnecessary indentations in the text, the process went smoothly. (Thankfully, Amazon offers a preview of the converted file, though this preview does not activate the internal links.)
On the whole, I am absolutely thrilled that books are finally joining the digital parade. And I am pleased that my own little book is marching proudly.