ART 53, day 62

This Is Fifty-three, day 62

Up at 3:30 this morning because I had pizza last night—but that’s another story. I am at the computer early because Smashwords notified me that my file required attention…

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Argh! The old size dilemma. One big problem I have with e-books is that there is not much consistency in the way anything is displayed.

Here is how the Kindle for Mac application displays the Prelude page:

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Here is what it looks like in Adobe Digital Reader (on the left) and Apple iBooks (on the right):

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Three different applications—three very different displays.

I have found that the Kindle application does a very good job of approximating what the e-book will actually look like on my Kindle. This goes for both Amazon’s online reader and the standalone application. I can almost always count on what I see on my screen looking the same when I load the book on my Kindle.

When it comes to ePub files, on the other hand, I haven’t got a frickin’ clue. As you can see in that side-by-side comparison screenshot, Adobe Digital Reader cuts off about half of the 1200 x 1200 px image that iBooks is able to display without any problems. Unfortunately, because Smashwords is citing the appearance of the images in my file when displayed with Adobe Digital Reader, I have to further reduce the image size. I shrink the images to 600 x 600 px, and re-import into my Word file.

Which brings up this complaint: Nobody properly specifies image dimensions—at least, not beyond the cover. Consequently, even though a lot of devices have enough resolution to display larger images (especially those devices capable of showing HD video)—and to shrink images that would otherwise be too large so that they fit the display—the least-capable devices/applications rule the day. Granted, most folks are reading primarily text when they read e-books on their tablets or e-readers—but it seems limiting to require that photos and illustrations be rendered so small, particularly since smaller images usually mean lower resolution.

The other complaint I have is that e-book preparation is too much trial and error. Here is a screenshot showing the number of revisions I have made so far:

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Unfortunately, this is necessary because: (a) I do not code—I have absolutely zero interest in coding—so I prepare my files in Word; and (b) because I use Word, I have to download the ePub and/or .mobi (Kindle) file(s) after conversion to check the results—even for the simplest of changes. I do most of this with Smashwords, since they convert to both formats; when things look good, I then upload to Kindle as well.

There really needs to be a better system for producing e-books—one that does not rely upon knowing how to code (e-books are built on HTML and CSS), or upon Adobe’s screwy Creative Cloud subscription model, or the inefficient workarounds needed when preparing files in Word. Not to mention that the competing standards (Kindle for Kindles, ePub for everything else) mean twice the work that would otherwise be required.

Anyway

After again shrinking my images, I make a few changes to make the text formatting more consistent. Here is one example:

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This screenshot shows the original formatting for this section, with the form of the poem on the line following the title. Since I used a soft return, maintaining the style I used for the title, when the style changed, both lines changed. So…

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…as this screenshot shows, I changed the soft return to a hard return, then applied another style to the line indicating the form of the poem. This made things easier, since the only modification I had to worry about was eliminating the usual space after the title line.

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Finally, I made the poem titles all caps.

At this point, I am pretty much satisfied with the results. The only thing I have left is to wait for the chance to upload my revised Kindle files (the last upload is still in review).

The e-book versions should be available shortly for pre-order; they will go on sale September 23rd.

(7 September 2016)

UPDATE: Approved for Smashwords premium catalogue, ensuring availability on iTunes and Barnes & Noble.

(7 September 2016)