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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

E-publishing in the Mountains - the lowdown

I attended an interesting talk this week held by Publish! Blue Mountains on e-publishing at The Clarendon in Katoomba. A long-time P!BM member, this is actually the first talk I’ve been able to attend as my work seems to take me everywhere but close to home!

The guest speakers were Jenny Mosher of Moshit Publishing, Hazelbrook and Springwood local and Adobe guru Steve Nichols, who shared their knowledge of new digital publishing platforms.

Jenny’s talk followed on from one she gave the month (featured in the video below) before with self-published Hazelbrook fantasy/sci-fi author JL Heylen. From all accounts the evening erupted into something of a feisty affair of mainstream publishing fans vs self-publishing ‘rebels’, but you can judge for yourselves as a kind soul videotaped the talks and has posted them on Youtube for all to see.

Jenny gave a great overview of the available publishing gateways for those interested in publishing e-books with Smashwords, Bookbaby and Kobo leading the charge. She covered the various pros and cons of going with each, and also referenced the various types of ebooks – PDF, EPub and Mobi – and explored compatibility, price and quality.

I'm a little late to the e-book party, I must confess. It's partly due to the fact I don't particularly like to read in this format, and partly a lack of confidence in the early e-book software that was too easy to crack and thereby render e-books free and widely available (hence no pesos for the author!). Of course the times and software have rapidly developed and I find myself running to catch up, so I can give my print books a second lease of life.

But I digress, back to the talk...

Amid the audience input that inevitably ensued was a spirited discussion about fonts and formats, and a couple of authors weighed in with their own experiences publishing via Lulu and Lightning Source (the latter my own contribution as a two-time print self-publisher).

Steve Nichols is an Adobe platform whiz who works for the company and has an intimate knowledge of Adobe's relatively new digital publishing platform, Adobe Digital Publishing Suite.

For a recovering Quark addict and self-described Adobe novice, this talk was something of a Godsend. Steve outlined quite a few tricks and shortcuts, and also spoke about Adobe’s new ‘Creative Cloud’, a much more affordable option for creative types who no longer have to fork out a few thousands dollars for software upfront, but rather subscribe to online resources instead for a monthly fee of $60 ($40 if you do own the software outright). Probably old news for many, but for this writer it was a revelation!

It was the little things that really made this talk for me – discovering that footnotes in print books become endnotes in e-books; that loading up e-books as individual Adobe InDesign chapters means the books loads faster than if it was loaded as one document (who knew?); and the Pièce de résistance – Adobe’s e-reader which allows companies to rebrand it as their own, so when readers download their magazine app it opens with a nice clean association with the publisher. Another handy tip revolved around image positioning in ebooks (anchor it! enough said). I felt my intelligence quotient blossom as he spoke, which was sadly too short an affair due to inevitable time restraints.

I feel like I’m indulging my inner nerd by sharing this level of detail (let alone getting excited about it!), but anyone who has ever loved a font, obsessed over the use of white space or laboured over a heading (or headline) knows where I’m coming from.

So what’s next for this former newspaper hack and semi-luddite? Why, it’s time to update my software and get myself some Adobe InDesign training, of course!

And maybe get along to the third talk in the series...stay tuned!

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