eBooks Color?

Since I do book covers and formatting for other authors, in addition to my own, I get a lot of questions about whether or not to include images in ebooks, and whether those images need to be black and white.

The short answer is: Yes, put in as many pictures as you want (so long as you can compress them to the file size limit for your publisher of choice) and leave them in color.

Barns & Noble have the color Nook. Though Kindle may be in black and white, the kindle applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android are in color. Not to mention that there are plenty of other brands of eReaders with color displays.

There is one thing to keep in mind, though, especially for technical diagrams. If readers use a gray scale device, such as kindle, the color image will be displayed in black and white. If you use images for tables, charts, etc you need to make sure that the colors have a good contrast so that readers can still distinguish the segments, or arrows, from one another.  As for general illustrations, you’re probably fine.

Personally, I think it’s only a matter of time until all the ereaders are in color, and the black and white issue becomes a moot point. In the meantime, if you’re worried about how your images will appear in black and white, then try this “converter” – http://tjshome.com/imageconverter.php. Choose the black and white option (It’s the first one) then choose your image and hit the submit button.  If you want you can right click on the results and save the converted image to your computer.




Smashwords to Distribute to Mobile Apps


Raise your hands if you have a smart phone loaded with apps.

Now raise your hands if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Smart phones, tablets and other devices are taking the world by storm, but I know a lot of people who don’t have one. My mother, for example. So I thought I’d take a minute and do a quick run down so that you can understand what Smashword’s new distribution agreement means for you as an author or reader.

Apps – short for applications – are like programs that run on your smart phone (such as the iphone or Android), on tablets (like the apple ipad) and other devices (I imagine all ereaders will  eventually be able to run these, too.) Applications are purchased through the marketplace, a “page” on the device (think like a web page), and they can be anything from wallpaper to ring tones, games, kitchen timers, movie players and yes, even books.

With Smashword’s new agreement with ScrollMotion, the Smashwords Premium catalog will now be available to purchase in the app marketplace – and as an author you don’t need to do anything to opt in. If you’re in the premium catalog already, it will be automatic. Of course, you can always opt out, if you want to. But, with authors getting 60% of the sale price, and with the potential to reach readers who are using Apple, Android, Windows Phone 7 and WebOS, why would you?

What’s it like to read a book on a phone? I read Stephannie Beman’s My Lord Hades using the Kindle app on mine, and it was okay. I wasn’t a huge fan (of reading on the phone, not of the book. I LOVED the book), so I bought a Kindle. But, I know people who not only read on their phones (Or on the much bigger ipads) but love it because their phone goes where they go – meaning their library is always with them, too, and they don’t have to buy an expensive, second device such as a nook or kindle.

However, books are expected to be delivered to the app marketplaces later this month, and I’m going to have to check it out. From what I understand, unlike the Kindle app, each book will be an individual application, meaning you will download and install each book without having to also install the program to read the book. Is that going to take up more of the precious phone space, or less? I’m not sure yet, but when they become available I intend to find out.   

You can read more about App ebook distribution on Smashword’s official blog, including all the numbers; how many people have these gadgets, how many are projected to buy these gadgets, etc.

Google E-Books Explained

In an effort to rival Amazon, Google has started their own ebook store. The new endeavor launched December 6th with more than three million titles available, though many of those are public domain books. Not that that’s a bad thing. I’m all for the classics moving into the digital age. eBook formats include Android, Sony, Nook, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and web viewing, and they have a selection of free reads, as well. Of note, they are not compatible with the Kindle.

The question that’s floated around is whether or not this new site is indy author friendly, and the answer is yes, yes they are. In fact, here is the direct quote (which can be found here)

“If you’re self-published, or the rights to your book have reverted back to you, you can join the program yourself by sending us your books or uploading them in PDF format. Check out our Author Resources page to learn more.”

This is where things might get confusing.

To join you can create an account with an existing google account, or create a new one. But, first have to sign up with Google books. Google books is an oft debated search-able database of books that google has scanned into their system. (more on that later). Once you’ve joined and agreed to allow your books to be listed, that’s when you get the option to join the ebook store.  In fact there are separate ToS for each. This one is for the Google Books program, while this is the addendum for the eBook store.

As I mentioned about the Google Books project, there were a lot of authors who felt that their copyrights were violated when Google started archiving portions of their books in the original Google Books program. To remedy this, Google is paying out to authors who had books in print prior to January 5, 2009 that they archived without permission, and they now offer the option for you to claim your book (do so here) and add a “Buy here” link to their directory listings. (I assume you can also have the book removed, but I haven’t looked into that) However, right now those links can only go to your website (if you’re selling books on it)not to Amazon, Smashwords, or any other third-party site.

This is where the eBook store comes in. When you submit your books to Google’s ebook store, they will then link the “buy book here” button on your google book to your Google eBook listing.

But before you worry about how much of your book is being shared, know that you can change the amount. Default is 20%, but you can choose to share more or less.

One down side to their process, in my opinion, is that to submit, books must be in a PDF format, and must be named very specifically by their ISBN numbers.  Here are the details on how to do that. Of course, you can also send them a print version and they will manually enter it for you, but by the time you buy your print version and mail it, you’ve spent more than the time it would have taken to PDF is worth.

So, should you bother? If you have a book published before January 5th, I’d at least go check to see if they have it listed because they may owe you money from advertisement clicks. To sign up for the one is not to sign up for the other, so don;t have to commit to the eStore if you don’t want to. Personally, I’ve signed up for the Google Books program, and will also agree to the eStore, though I haven’t uploaded anything because I’ve been busy. As an android phone owner, I may also look into purchasing from them in the future. I’ve tried the Kindle for android and didn’t like it very much, but this may be better – or it may not. as with any new endeavor, it’s a gamble. but, the way I look at it is since you’re not signing any book rights away, what do you have to lose?

For more information, here is a link to the help section, which s actually pretty useful for a change.



Color E-books

While many of the current ebook publishers shy away from images in the body of your manuscript, or even discourage them, ala smashwords, Barnes & Noble has obviously decided that colored pictures are the way to go.

By abandoning the e-ink and going to LCD screens, the new color Nook makes image rich ebooks user friendly, and allows you to do a handful of other social networking things as well. I’m not going to get into the specs, since I’m not advertising for it, but the point is that if this catches on the “discouraged” images in ebooks may soon be “encouraged” images, which is great news for independent graphic novelists, children’s books, photo books and others which are forced primarily into the dead tree versions due to high graphic content, and then cost a consumer double digits to purchase.  I, for one, have no intention of paying well over $20 for a children’s picture book, unless my dearest, sweetest friend is involved in the project. But, if the color ebook reader catches on, maybe I won’t have to, even if some madcap friend of mine publishes it.

(for more info see: http://www.engadget.com )