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Old 12-09-2009, 04:43 PM   #1
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n8r began at the beginning.
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EBook Strategy for small non-fiction Publisher

Hoping to get some free advice / thoughts about Ebook strategy for a small non-fiction publisher. We publish approximately 50 titles all in a specific area of interest. The vast majority of the books we publish are in some form of Indesign with a few of our very early titles in pagemaker. Most of our titles are currently in Kindle format which were converted for us by Amazon. The couple of titles we viewed on our DX seemed to look pretty decent.

In addition to our publishing business we also have a .com retail site that sells books to the end user. A future hope of ours is that we will be able to sell ebooks on our site as well. The issue I see with that is most of the publishers we deal with are small and not technically very sophisticated. It seems like most of the big book retailers are offering some sort of an ebook creation service instead of asking the publishers to create them. That means that we would either have to start converting books for these publishers, or convince them to make ebook versions in house. At least in the short term, we are looking at creating ebooks of our own published stuff so we can sell it on our site. In addition we are hoping that if we can have the Ebook ready at the same time the print version. Right now, our main concern is having a Kindle version ready. We have not actually established relationships with Sony or the B&N ebook stuff.

Most of our books are black and white and contain relatively simple layouts. It's definitely not a Dummies book with regard to annoying layout techniques. Our books often contain many photos and tables which can be problematic.

So with that background in mind. Here is what we are thinking with regard to producing ebooks for our own content. I have purchased the Kindle Formatting guide from Josh Tallent, and I have been through quite a bit of it. I have spent a fair amount of time messing with the different conversion techniques he describes in his book. The conversions from PDF -> Mobipocket seem to produce a decent baseline bit of HTML. I have found that going through and fixing these converted files takes practically as long as just coding it from scratch starting with clean text. Trying to go through a marked up document and catch errors can be more difficult than just marking up from top to bottom. I would be curious to hear what other people's experiences are with regard to working with a book that already has a relatively complex layout. Are you better off just starting from scratch?

So that leads me to the current thinking I have which is that we will use Sigil to create an epub document which hopefully will become the standard down the road. We will then convert from Epub into Mobi and any other formats as we see fit. This will allow us to release on Kindle simultaneously as in print. It will also allow us to test market selling ebooks on our own site. Hopefully in a few years more of the publishers in our market will begin producing ebooks in house and we'll be able to sell more electronic books on our own site.

In addition I'm curious how folks' experience have been with using conversion services. Since we are a small company, I think it might make the most sense to have our backlist converted to ebook by a service. 50 books or so would be a pretty significant amount of money, but it would probably take months to do it in house and keep up with our current projects.
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