Liber.io is a free web app which allows you to easily create professional ebooks directly from any of your Google Drive documents in a standard ePub format that can be distributed on all pro marketplaces.
The app can import all formatting, images and fonts, and allows you to either upload your own cover or to choose and edit one of the ready-made ones.
To use it, you simply select a file from your connected Google Drive account, and then you set a number of options that will control, the title, meta-data, layout and pagination of your ebook.
Once you click OK your document is converted into a standard .epub file which can preview with free ebook reader like Adobe Digital Editions. You can't edit or modify the final result, but you can certainly go back to your Google document and change it according to your needs.
Your ready-made ebook can be sent in one click to your Google Play Books account, to your Kindle or to any major social media account.
Liber.io offers truly extraordinary simplicity and ease of use for anyone wanting to publish a standard format ebook without having to learn too many technicalities.
Robin Good: Leanpub is a free web service that allows you to create, edit and publish your own book in PDF, .epub (iPad) and .mobi (Kindle) formats, and to sell it online at your own set price.
With Leanpub you get 90% of the selling price, minus a fixed .50cents per copy sold which goes to Leanpub. Check this table for more details: http://i.imgur.com/ziqV5.jpg
Leanpub it's simple to use, but, in my opinion, it's not for everyone, as its setup is not as simple and straightforward (yet) as that of other web apps. But if you are a bit familiar with Dropbox, if you can easily edit text files, and don't mind tagging your book text with a few asterisks here and there, then you should be more than fine with this tool.
Basically Leanpub hooks up to your Dropbox account where it drops a set of simple text files that control the contents, sequence, formatting and images for your book.
So to work with Leanpub, you actually open a text file in your Dropbox account, and start editing it. The Leanpub account is used only to initially create the files needed in Dropbox, to generate previews and to provide you with the means to provide marketing info for your book landing page (auto-created by Leanpub).
It is possible to start a book by importing content from your blog RSS feed or from a Word document saved in HTML format.
One other cool feature of Leanpub is its ability to allow you, as an author, to publish and start selling your book at any time, giving you the option to actually get paid from the moment you publish your first edition.
People can sign-up to your book updates via the landing page, and Leanpub collects for you their emails so that you can keep in touch with them, and alert them everytime you have a new edition out.
The final cherry on the pie at Leanpub is the "bundling" feature which allows authors to bundle together either multiple books of their own, or their books together with other authors'(and their approval) ones and to offer them at a special discounted price.
This option by itself allows book authors both to use a very powerful marketing approach juxtaposing their titles to other relevant ones, as well as to cultivate their own competence in a specific area to curate relevant book sets for their audience. Check the bundling feature in this video here: http://youtu.be/BGJoDImqSqU
Robin Good: PressBooks is a new book publishing platform, built on WordPress, that makes it easy to collaborate with an editorial team, and to generate clean, well-formatted books in multiple outputs: .epub, Kindle, print-ready PDF, InDesign-ready XML, and of course HTML.
"PressBooks is a digital-first book publishing tool built on WordPress that integrates a set of rules for encoding, transporting and storing documents in machine-readable formats, with emphasis on simplicity, usability and accessibility, particularly over the Internet.
PressBooks also makes a web version of all books — which can be private (for production only), or public (free or behind a paywall).
PressBooks, a Montreal-based start-up, is the brainchild of Hugh McGuire, a writer and web-developer and a co-founder of Book Oven, a cloud-based publishing tool that allows people to collaborate in writing, editing and proofreading a book, all through online tools.
He’s also the founder of LibriVox.org, an all-volunteer project whose aim is to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.
It was once hailed as “perhaps the most interesting collaborative cultural project this side of Wikipedia.”
* Authors and Very Small Publishers can use PressBooks for free – we make great ebooks and typeset print books.
* Big and Small Publishers can use PressBooks as a lightweight, but extremely powerful (XML) workflow tool to output ebooks and typeset print books, for free.
From the article intro: "If evolution is the cornerstone of life, that's certainly no less true in the electronic world. If you can't adapt — or fail to adapt in time — you're destined to join the ranks of the Netscape Navigators, OS/2 operating systems, and WordPerfect office suites of the world, as a warning to future technology developers that nothing lasts forever, and never in its original form.
In this light, EPUB 3 is more than just bug fixes and tweaks from the last version; it represents a major change in what an ebook can be. It's a whole new beast, you might say.
The ebook market has been going through its own kind of hyper-evolution in the mere four years since EPUB2 was released, and a flurry of new devices and document formats have come and gone in that time.
E Ink technology was all the rage in 2007 when Adobe, Amazon, Sony, and others were entering the market, however, and EPUB2 arrived to meet the new needs of these portable reading devices, with improved presentation capabilities, better navigation, support for DAISY accessibility features, and some advances in global language support.
But EPUB2, like its predecessor and contemporaries, remained a static format, in that its core only allowed for the reading of basic text and image documents."
Robin Good: Fastpencil is a design, printing, publishing and distribution service which self-published authors can use to create books/eBooks and publish and distribute them to the major online and physical book distribution outlets available.
FastPencil provides all of the tools needed to write, edit and format your book and allows authors and companies to choose among three levels of imprinting and publishing services: PREMIERE, Wavecrest and FastPencil.com.
1) Color Books: to Amazon.com, Alibris.com and the FastPencil Marketplace.
2) Black and White Books: to Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Baker and Taylor and the FastPencil Marketplace (excluding 8.5x11 page size, which is only available on the FastPencil Marketplace).
3) eBooks in Epub format: Apple iBookStore, Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes&Noble.com, Borders.com, Kobobooks.com, Powells.com, Ebookmall.com, Diesel-ebooks.com, Booksonboard.com, Lulu.com, Lybrary.com, and the FastPencil Marketplace.
4) eBooks in PDF format: Powells.com, Ebookmall.com, Diesel-ebooks.com, Booksonboard.com, Lulu.com, Lybrary.com, and the FastPencil Marketplace.
Pricing: All of the FastPencil writing tools are free.
When you’ve finished writing and are ready to publish you can choose from the following Distribution options:
1. Private - FREE
2. FastPencil Marketplace Only - FREE
3. Wide Distribution - $149 one format ($199 for both print and eBook)
Robin Good: If you are a non-technical person and you are not a graphic designer, but you are looking for a great tool to layout and format your next eBook, guide or report, and you have a Mac, look no further than SwiftPublisher, now available in a new more powerful version (v. 3.0).
Key features include a truly simple and easy to use interface, unlimited layers, more than 180 ready-made templates, clipart, vector drawing tools, image cropping, object grouping and a lot more.
Having personally used and selected Swift Publisher as our newsroom tool of choice for producing PDF guides and manuals, I am only sorry not to be able to recommend a tool that is so effective also to anyone working on a Windows PC.
The price is so low, that I there is no reason not to have such a great layout, formatting and publishing tool at your disposal.
Robin Good: Booktype is a free, colaborative open source platform that produces beautiful, engaging books formatted both for print and for all the major ebOkk formats and stores online.
Booktype is characterized by a very easy-to-use interface and by its native collaborative set of features, supporting in the best possible way the cooperative creation of literary works by niche communities of interest.
Booktype key features include:
• clean, easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface
• simultaneous editing
• live chat and messaging tools
• output to pdf, epub, mobi, odt and html
• export to Amazon, iBooks, Lulu.com and other print-on-demand or ebook stores
• collaborative tools to engage proofreaders, editors and contributors
• merged print and digital workflow to keep books up-to-date across all platforms
• individual book history, versions, clones, editing permissions and license management
• easy import of content, chapters and entire books from other sources for remix and reuse
• Booktype uses WebKit, the open source project that powers Google’s Chrome browser and Apple’s iBooks app. This ensures great looking content across all mobile, tablet and ereader platforms, plus makes designing books easy for anyone with knowledge of web design.
From the article: "While all of these publishing options are great, you’ll soon find that the formatting differences will drive you absolutely nuts.
Each format has it’s idiosyncrasies and numerous options.
You can literally spend days fine tuning your document for one particular application only to find that it completely changes when viewed on a different device.
Your book will look completely different on the small screen of a cell phone, than it does on the larger screen of an iPad or other tablet.
I spent the last month formatting my printed book, The Path of Consequence, for Kindle, iPad and Nook. It seemed easy at first, but as I viewed my document in the different formats I was horrified at the results.
Through trial and error I found some solutions and came to some conclusions.
Here are the three common formats and some workarounds."
From the article: "The release by Apple of iBooks Author last month begins a year that will see the release of several new tools focused on helping people to create, publish and track their ebooks....
That’s fine insofar as it goes, but if you’re an author or publisher wanting to reach as many people as possible, with limited time and resources to repurpose the same content for different marketplaces, iBooks Author isn’t a great help."
What's interesting instead is the fact that in 2012 we will see more and more tools that will allow you to convert, format and publish your content to ebooks on multiple and competing platforms.
There are several services providing this and more springing up.
You will have tools to track stats of how many ebooks are downloaded and purchased as well as better tools to write, edit, revise and format your ebook.
Ebook Glue is a free web app which allows you to easily convert any web page URL, RSS feed, blog, or document file (.doc, .docx, .html, or .odt) into a standard formatted .epub or .mobi ebook compatible with standard Kindle, Nook, iPad, and Android reading devices.
You just provide the URL of your content or you upload a supported document file and Ebook Glue does the rest without ay intervention.
For those needing to convert large number of files and web pages to ebooks an API is provided that allows for precise customization of the conversion process.
My comment: Excellent free solution for low-volume needs. It may require you to test and verify format of your images and other elements in your layout.
Robin Good: Baker is an HTML5 open-source eBook publishing framework that makes it easy to create and format digital magazines and eBooks for the iPhone and iPad (some technical competence is required).
Conceived by Davide Folletto Casali and developed with his two partners Marco Colombo and Alessandro Morandi, the Baker Framework is an elegant and free solution to utilize the open standard HPub 1.o format to put together professionally-looking digital publications without needing to purchase or pay for a commercial layout tool.
Robin Good: ZinePal is a free online service which allows you to build an electronic book or magazine, by utilizing the content of any web site, RSS feed, or specific web page.
You set the layout format, fonts, sizes and number of stories to include and ZinePal outputs a professionally-looking ebook / magazine in PDF, ePub and Kindle/Mobipocket formats.
Here is how it works:
1) Start on the Create Yours page by entering the address of a web page, blog or feed that you want to include in your eBook.
2) If you enter the address of a single web page, then Zinepal adds the page to your eBook. If you enter a blog or feed, then Zinepal displays a list of stories. In this case you can select with the checkbox available next to each story, the ones that you want to add to your eBook.
3) When you are done, click the "Preview Your eBook" button at the top of the page and see what your publication will look like when completed.
4) Once editing is completed, click on "Finalize eBook" to create your eBook in PDF, ePub and Kindle/Mobipocket formats.
5) If you want to edit the contents or change the formatting of your eBook, then click on "Customize eBook".
Robin Good: Here is a good basic introductory guide prepared by Cristopher Null. The tutorial for novice ebook publishers contains valuable information and many useful links to relevant tools, articles and services.
From the article intro: "Thanks to the e-reader revolution, there are a lot of perks to self-publishing these days, but one of the downsides is that you’re on your own for funding some of the basic necessities, such as cover art, editing (this alone can be $1,000 and up for a novel-length manuscript), and formatting.
Once you start making money, and have reserves from previous sales to draw upon, it gets easier, but lots of independent authors struggle to come up with the initial funds.
I’ve run into some authors who have used a site called KickStarter to help with start-up costs.
Last year, I interviewed Miranda MeiLin, an indie fantasy author who successfully funded her first ebook and paperback using KickStarter.
You can read the whole interview if you’re interested, but here’s a quote related to her KickStarter success:
"Forty-eight people bought pre-sale packages to the tune of $2500.
That paid for my editor, artist and typographer, and then the purchase and shipping of the paperback for those that bought the print package.
The $50 presale bought them an autographed paperback, the finished formatted ebook and a thank-you in the acknowledgments, but the real attraction was that they got the raw manuscript as soon as my editor and I decided it was done (the $25 package was everything but the paperback). I finished on August 31st, 2010 at 9:30 pm; the raw manuscript was in their hands 24 hours later."
From Paidcontent.org: "Startup iPad publisher Inkling has just launched a free, cloud-based, interactive e-book publishing platform, Inkling Habitat.
Inkling Habitat is a program for professional publishers producing e-books at scale, and a way to make a very expensive process more affordable.
Inkling Habitat lets publishers create interactive e-books with HD video, interactive features and 3D content in a free, cloud-based program.
E-books can immediately be published to iPad and the Web in HTML5, with updates pushed to both platforms at once. (Well, iPad is available now and Web publishing will be added later this year.)
Multiple groups can collaborate on the content simultaneously and every version of a publication is saved, so changes can always be rolled back.
The program is free, but in order to use it publishers must agree to make the books they create with it available through Inkling’s store (in its iPad app and on its website). Inkling takes a cut of the revenues from those books. Unlike with iBooks Author, publishers can also sell the books they create through other channels (their own websites or as individual apps, for instance) and Inkling does not take a cut of those sales."
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