Friday, March 25, 2011

eBook Authors: Use The POWER of Links

One of the first things an eBook Author must learn to use is the power of links. Whether you’re creating your ebook, setting up your web site, writing a blog or joining a group on the Internet, hyperlinks are what make things happen. The more clicks, the more chances of your success. The synergy created by links is a powerful thing.
With that said, where should you put links? The following is a list of possible opportunities for linking.

Your eBook Author Page

Let’s start with your ebook. You should always have an author page with links to everything in your arsenal. This page is different than the title page or the copyright page. You should have links to your website, your blog, your social network and your email address. Make sure to link to your other ebooks buy-pages to help the reader go directly to your other writings.

Your In-Book Links

Another link possibility is links imbedded in your content. These links can be added in the ebook rendering process. Whether the links are to Internet sites or to information in the back of your ebook, the links can be very valuable to the reading experience.

In my ebook, Call Off The Dogs, I included brief definitions of uncommon terms and locations in the back of the ebook. For example, the reader could click on a link imbedded in the content and see a brief description of the pier in Seal Beach, California. Then they would press the BACK key and continue reading.

Other Link Opportunities

You should link everything you do digitally. For example:

Website – Your site is a great place to include links to your ebooks. Include a blogroll on your home page to link to other sites you visit. And then ask those sites to link back to you. The more the merrier.
Blog – You should establish a blog to keep in touch with your readers. Your followers will follow the links you insert into your blog like a page for your upcoming ebook. Also, you can use links to get them involved in the writing process.
Social Network – You should use Facebook and Twitter and link away every chance you get.
Email - All outgoing communications should include a link even if it is just a link in your email signature line.

Link Maintenance

One of the important things to remember is that link maintenance is great an opportunity to keep in front of your reader. Links change and become invalid for one reason or another. You should maintain a current, up to date list of links you have used in your writings. Then point the reader to your site for the latest link information.

Another example. Let’s say you have an ebook with a lot of internet links imbedded in the content or the ebook has a list of links associated with source material. As the links turn bad, and they will after time, you could add Amazon Public Notes in the ebook to assistant the reader in finding the updated link or an alternative one.

You are maintaining the value of the reading material by updating the content without republishing the ebook.

Link Power

So what does linking everything do for you?

1. It will build traffic to your ebook buy-page, to your Internet site, your Facebook page and your Blog.

2. Links are what drives Internet Search Engine Optimization. The more links you have on the net, the more chances you have for readers to find your offerings. The most prized link is one that is an incoming link from another site. This can be your site or blog or one from one of your peers.

3. Connections through Social Networking, links your friends and followers to your site and your ebook. You cannot have enough of this. The more ebooks and blogs you put into the pipe, the more action you create.


Think of this as a little web page with the power of communications.

A general rule: Never publish anything without a link or two. That includes your ebook, your Internet site, your blog, your email or comments on other people’s blog.

So what do think? Be sure to share with me other link opportunities that I have overlooked.

View my website: HBSystems Publications
Or EMAIL at:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

How to create a Kindle ebook? Anyone can make this stuff up.

The following is a recipe for the creation of a Kindle ebook.  The results can be viewed on a Kindle ereader or by any of the ‘Kindle for’ software apps including MAC, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android Phone.

Starting Ingredients
1 Windows PC
1 Microsoft Word
1 Kindlegen Software app from Amazon (Download)
1 Kindle for PC Software app from Amazon (Download)

Write your content in a Microsoft Word document (merge text, links and pictures as needed)
Save content as a Microsoft Word DOC file format (DOC is preferred for best results)
Save content (Save As) again as an html file format using Microsoft Word (extension .htm)

The Kindlegen Creation Process (This process creates a file in a MOBI file format)

Access: Windows Start Menu
Select steps: All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt

A Black dialogue box will appear with a > prompt
(Older versions of Windows: Start > Run > enter CMD and depress enter)

Next you’re going to switch to a new directory by entering the directory location of your html file. Then depress the enter key. There is a space between the CD and the directory location.

CD c:\blogging\posts

The prompt in the black dialogue box for the example above should look like this: >c:\blogging\posts

If you have installed Kindlegen direct from the Internet your directory should be: C:\kindlegen and the conversion program should be Kindlegen.exe. (change directory as needed)

Let’s assume for the following example your html file is named: cookbook030711.htm. You would substitute your file name for the example.

You would enter the following and depress the enter key. There is a space between the exe file and your html file name.

c:\kindlegen\kindlegen.exe cookbook030711.htm

This process should have created a MOBI file in the directory: c:\blogging\posts


If you have Kindle for PC installed and associated to the MOBI file format, you can access the ebook by going through Windows Explorer to the MOBI file and double clicking the file name. Kindle for PC will startup automatically with your new ebook displayed.

If you have not installed Kindle for PC, when you double click on the MOBI file name, Windows will prompt you to select the program associated with the MOBI format. Select Kindle for PC. This process will only occur the first time through the process.

Review your document format in the Kindle for PC app
Redo the process as needed

Transfer the MOBI file to your Kindle ereader via a USB cable by copying the file from your PC directory to the Kindle ebook library directory. Your Kindle has detail instructions on this process.

Review your ebook again
Add more content if you wish
Redo the process as needed

Your ebook Usage
Students: This is ideal for accumulating class notes, reference materials and excerpts so you can have information at your fingertips.
eBook Authors: This process can create a full blown ebook for ebook publication if you choose. I use it to check the progress of the ebook I am writing to make sure I am formatting the ebook properly. Then I unload the mobi file to Amazon DTP for publication. There is no emailing back and forth.
Teachers/Professors: This ebook can be used to create study guides, sample test questions,   assignment outlines and extra reading material. This is a great opportunity for educators to create their own e-textbook for publication as a reference.
Business: There are many ways businesses could use ebooks like instruction and user’s manuals, contracts and business transaction logs. They have been using PDF files for a long time to do this very thing.
Libraries: They could publish library rules and special catalogs via ebook. They need to learn this process and this is a great opportunity.
Real Estate: Realtors could summarize transaction history, including pictures, contracts, agreements, comp information and all communications into simple little ebook with an index and links.
e-Site books: Web sites could merge their website content into an encapsulated format with search capabilities and in-book links.
The list could go on and on.

This procedure is not magic and mirrors. It is a simple process that anyone can master. There are many advantages to ebooking your notes and miscellaneous information. One right off the top. Once created, the ebook can’t be changed by the reader. However the reader can add notes, highlights and bookmarks.

What do you think?  Can you think of any other thing we could add to our ebook recipe? Let me know. Let’s build a list of ideas.

View my website: HBSystems Publications
Or EMAIL at:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

e-Textbooks: How do they stack up against traditional textbooks?

I will start by stating that I believe e-textbooks are a great opportunity to improve the quality of education. But the players have to start thinking outside the box and stop resisting the new concept. E-textbooks should be a wakeup call to professors and students, publishers, authors and content providers.

I have been championing ebooks and ebook authors for a while how and listening to the educational community’s reasons for not adopting the new technology. Oh I know about the current pilot programs and the studies being conducted. Some schools are even being forced into using them because of their cost savings but the quality of education must be the key here.

I decided to take a look into the resistance to change from a different point of view. Instead of looking at the faults of ereaders and e-textbooks, let’s take a look at what’s wrong with current textbooks and how e-textbooks solve the problems.

Because of the many levels of education, I will focus on higher education for this discussion. Most college students have access to personal computers and to the Internet. By using e-textbooks in combination with ereaders or tablets, PC’s and software, they should be able to get the most ‘bang for their buck’.

Traditional Textbook Shortcomings
What are the shortcomings of traditional textbooks? We can start with the standard issues.

1. Textbooks are expensive.
2. Their useful life is short. They seem to change every year or so.
3. They are heavy. If I have to carry multiple books to class, I have a problem.
4. And of course, there is the bookstore experience. Oh I love those long lines and the beat up used textbooks.

But some way we manage to get by these problems because that is the way we have always done it.

E-textbooks: They cost less. Weight is not a problem. You can have lots of ebooks at our fingertips. They are portable. I can carry them anywhere.  On my PC, I can even view multiple ebooks at the same time, each in a different window. Tablets are even adding this feature.

I have the convenience of on-line delivery anywhere and anytime I want to order and they will never be out of stock. Unlike traditional textbooks, ebooks are easy for publishers to update. They can adjust and grow with the changing environment and conditions.

Traditional Textbook Studying Process
1. I hand write in the margin of my books.
2. I highlight passages that I feel are important.
3. I have posits tabbed at the top of some of the pages just to help find something important later.
4. I carry a small dictionary with me and a large notebook to try to keep up.
5. I have manual references to Internet links throughout my textbooks. Hopefully when I key them into my PC the links are still valid.

If I don’t do these things to my textbook, sometimes I have a problem finding information.

I guess I am the typical student. I know this destroys the textbook but I am the one that needs to do this, so that it is easy for me to review come test or report time. I will deal with what I have done to the textbook when I try to resell it at the end of the semester.

E-textbooks: They are a live, digital media. I can key in class notes on my device or with public notes I can key in notes on my PC and view them on my device. I can highlight text and later I can remove the highlights. Using my PC, I can copy and paste information to a Word document and not have to rekey it into my computer.

I can tag or bookmark passages. On some devices I can even color the tags. I can easily search my e-textbook to find information. I have a dictionary and encyclopedia at my fingertips. If they can’t solve the problem, I can go on-line and use a search engine.

On my PC, I can interact with my e-textbook and a host of tools like databases, spreadsheets and a word processor with spellcheck.

e-Textbook Resistance
But the resistance abounds. We have the standard arguments.

1. E-textbooks are hard to read.
2. There are no page numbers or the numbers don’t match the paper textbook. (This has been resolved my Amazon.)
3. Ereader keyboards are too small.
4. Students will not be paying attention to the lecture.
5. Traditional textbooks have a look and feel that ereaders don’t possess.

I even see a history professor blogging that they have always done it that way so why change. E-textbooks will interrupt the flow of his teaching in the classroom. E-textbooks have no place in the History department. You know “If it is not broke, don’t fix it”.

If I was going to start anywhere, I would start in the history genre. This area has great potential for linking information and companion ebooks. And a history e-textbook is a growing adventure. One that is never ending. As more ebooks are written about history, they can be linked back to the original e-textbook which will enhance the experience.

Because I am an Equal opportunity blogger, I will occasionally highlight the dissenting point of view. I have included a link to the professor’s blog so you can make your own judgment. History e-textbooks: Not worth the trouble? 


So what do I do now? What needs to happen?

Professors, Teachers and Administrators
The e-textbook concept must be accepted by professors, teachers and administration.

They must understand the new technology and it’s potential.
They should adapt their methods of teaching to incorporate the features of the digital textbook.

Publishers and facilitators need to realize the potential and rise to the occasion. Printed textbooks and e-textbooks versions should be in sync, including the teacher’s edition. That should also fall into the administrator’s responsibility above. If you’re going to offer the use of e-textbooks in the classroom, they should match the paper version you’re using.

eBook Authors and Content Providers
E-textbooks present a large opportunity for eBook authors. They can write and develop companion ebooks that relate to a specific topic or a source textbook. For example, if I am studying President Lincoln in my history e-textbook and I want to know about New Salem, a place Lincoln lived in his young adult years, I might be able to get an ebook about his early years immediately on my ereader written by an eBook author.

Students should start creating their own ebooks. They could put their notes, research and ideas in an ad hoc ebook and have it as a reference during their class or while they are studying for a test. The e-textbook can be right next to it on their ereader. They can create their own ebook with software like Kindlegen (mobi) and Calibre (epub).

New software must be developed to take advantage of the digital format and authors must step up to plate and start creating e-textbooks directly for that platform. Group software integrated into the class environment using an ereader or PC should be a must.

For example, one of the new tools released recently is NookStudy from Barnes and Noble. This free software download shows great potential. Available on your PC or Mac, you can read e-textbooks, class material, study aids, test guides and many other items. You can create your own stuff and have it at your fingertips. And, of course, you have all the computer tools you need to manipulate the information.

We need a process that insures that digital links are still valid. For example, a good links process could be maintained by publishers or authors on their website. Actually this could be a good opportunity for both. They could have readers accessing their site to update the link information and could give them a marketing shot at a companion ebook.

Think outside of the box.
I have included a couple of recent blogs that address thinking outside of the box. Both are right on-spot.

Chris addresses the large potential of new versions of ebooks using Kindle’s public notes.  He sees the great potential of notes and the value they can add to the reading experience.

I think education can be the real winner with Public Notes.

Also Joe Wikert wrote a great blog, Margin notes in ebooks.

Joe discusses how important notes are. He defends the use of notes in ebooks as being an integral part of the reading experience.

Both bloggers are thinking outside of the box. How can notes help the reader to better understand the content of the book?

I even got in on the thinking by suggesting that public notes could add to a study group environment. Working with other students and the professor, the synergy could improve the communication and the thought process. Amazon Has Some REAL Good News and They Have Some Great News for e-Textbook and eBook Users


E-textbooks are a great opportunity to improve the quality of education. I believe the resistance to e-textbooks should be weighed against the traditional textbook shortcomings.

Remember. Here comes the kids. You know the gadget-centric generation that will be right at home with ereaders or tablets. These devices will fall right in with their social networking and their cell phones. As a side note, I am waiting for schools to start offering a class in two thumb typing.

What do you think? Can we improve the quality of education with the use of e-textbooks? Will ebook authors get involved with companion ebooks?

View my website: HBSystems Publications
Or EMAIL at: