Tuesday, November 30, 2010

eBook Authors: Render Your eBooks

Rendered eBooks
The eBook Author has the opportunity to add to the reading experience. The eBook conversion process must be much more than converting a paper book to a digital format. It must take advantage of the power of the electronic reader.

The eBook author is defined as an author who is writing directly to the eBook platform. You can read more about this concept in my blog: eBook Author: New Breed of Author.

As an author, you must think about the reader and what he can do with the added features the eBook allows him to use. You must add to your content something of value for your readers.

You should include in-book links to help the reader enjoy the content. The eBook’s advanced features should be exploited. And you should think about the future of the eBook and the software and devices and plan for the changes in your research and writing.

Your eBook must be more than just a copy of a paper book. You must render your eBook to set the content apart from the paper version.

Think about the reader
The eBook author should think about the reader when he is rendering his eBook. The object is to improve the eBook reading experience.

Picture the reader of a paper book and some of the things they do while they are reading. Let’s explore the practice of Read back.

Read back is the action of the reader to go back through the content to look up information. The eBook can make this practice an easy and quick process.

I am a typical reader and some of the things I would like to be able to do while I am reading are: (I have included the rendered eBook solution.)

1. Read back: I would like to look up the definition of a word or a term.
Render: This is addressed directly by the e-reader’s dictionary and encyclopedia if it is a common word.

2. Read back: I would like to look up the definition of a word or term coined by the author or that is not in the standard dictionary.
Render: You can supply information in the appendix and link to it using bookmarks. (see the in-book link section below)

3. Read back: I would like to see pictures of people, buildings and objects that I am reading about.
Render: As an eBook author, you can easily insert jpg files into the content during the rendering process and link to them.

4. Read back: I would like to actually see the locations that are referenced in the content.
Render: You can enclose Google Maps or better yet Google Earth snapshots. Just give them credit.

5. Read back: I would like to see an easy-to-access character tree.
Render: This is important if the eBook is large and has marginal characters that are revisited throughout the eBook.

6. Read back: Sometimes I would like a calendar of events so that I can keep track of where I am in the story.
Render: You can render a filled in calendar to support the reader.

As an eBook author, you can easily provide the reader these items by using the power of the e-reader’s links.

Use in-book links
In my eBook, Call Off the Dogs, I used four types of in-book links. In-book links are used to move the reader to content that is not online (no need to be connected to the Internet) but is included in the books appendix area.

The in-book links have an advantage because they do not interrupt the reader’s train of thought. This is important especially if the eBook is fiction. I have included Internet links to the example below for your reference.

The first type of in-book links I used were links which I called eBook Gems. The gems are terms I invented as part of the story.

For example, the main character, CIA agent Jonathon Stone, used a device to scan for bugs, GPS locators and bomb residue. It was called a waffle scanner(follow the link to view the description) because of the texture of the back of the device. Well this was a figment of my imagination so I inserted in the content a quick symbol link for the reader to view a broader description of the device. The reader just clicked on the symbol and reviewed the information. Then he pressed the Back button and continued reading.

The second type of in-book links were brief definitions from Wikipedia. The reader could click on an underlined link and view a short summary of the topic. (You need to give credit to Wikipedia to use this feature – see their guidelines on their site.)

For example, one of the locations used in the novel was Belmont Shore, California. (follow the link to view the definition and the credit statement) I enclosed a brief description from Wikipedia about the location and the area around Belmont Shore to inform the reader.

The third type of in-book link was a link to a map from Google Earth which showed the location of part of the story. (Again you need to give credit to Google Earth to use this feature – see their guidelines on their site.)

For example, Call Off the Dogs, is a novel about the Assassination of President Kennedy. It discusses Dealey Plaza (follow the link to view an aerial map) in Dallas where the assassination took place. I captured an aerial view of the plaza and inserted building references so the reader could visualize the scene.

The fourth type of in-book link was the insertion of a picture of an object to assist the reader in the visualization of the content. A digital picture (jpg file) was quickly added to the appendix and linked so the reader could view it.

For example, one of the objects in Call Off the Dogs was a reference to a Wild Hog Trophy. (follow the link to view the digital picture)

Also, I have included extra information to help explain the in-book concept. Follow the next link to the reader reference material in Call Off the Dogs. The section in the eBook was entitled the eBook Experience Notes.

Think to the future
I am sure authors will start to render their back-list titles to add value to their writing. Although it is time consuming, the information gathering process for rendering can be incorporated in the research of your eBook.

I wrote Call Off the Dogs in MS-Word and put my research notes at the back of the document. When I was done with my first draft, I started adding bookmarks to the important items. That made the in-book link part of the rendering easy.

Enhanced eBooks are coming. We are starting to see them appear in selected books on the iPad. They include maps, graphs, pictures and video. Author information is expanded to give the reader an insight into the author’s thinking process.

As other e-reader devices come up to speed with their software and hardware, enhanced eBooks will one day be commonplace.

eBook Rendering is coming
But for now, rendering the standard eBook would greatly improve the eBook experience. The eBook author is the key. Remember you are in the creativity business. Rendering is an opportunity to set you apart from the traditional author.

I encourage comments and feedback on this. I believe this is an important concept.

Book Information
Call Off The Dogs
By: James Moushon
Published By: November 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4507-4529-1 ASIN:B004AYCTI8
Available at Amazon in eBook Format
Genre: Fiction, Alternative History

Coming Soon on this blog:
Lessons For the eBook Industry – Study the E-Forms Industry Beginning- a CASE STUDY
This post will discuss the highlights from a case study I have written about the parallel of the eBook Industry and its transition from paper to digital to the beginning of the Electronic Forms Industry in the 1990’s.

This post originated from HBSystems Publications.
Posted by James Moushon

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To contact me directly, mailto: jrm@hbspub.com

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