By Cam Mather

Well it’s only taken what – 2 years? Our books are finally available as e-books!

“So what took you so long?” Don’t get me started.

It’s been a long and winding road.

We opted to keep the e-book conversion “in house” because I wanted to be in control of our e-books so that I could understand what was involved, and it turned out that it was all way more complicated that I expected.

I wasn’t in a huge rush because when we started there wasn’t a huge proliferation of people using e-books, but I think it’s becoming more common.

If we published novels that are black & white and all text it would have been a cakewalk. But of course, we publish these insanely great, long, detailed books with hundreds of photos and illustrations. Early on I decided that our e-books should be in color and once the iPad came out, this was a good call.

First off I upgraded our InDesign Creative Suite software to version “5” which is supposed to make ePubs. Yee ha! I am quite familiar with using InDesign and so this would be easy. There were lots of competing techniques, but it seemed to make sense to stick with what I know.

As it turned out, everything that I use to lay a book out for printed publication goes out the window when working on an e-book. In a print book each page ends up exactly as I make it. On an eBook reader, it’s all very fluid depending on the screen size and the type/font size chosen. So photos and graphics had to be anchored so that they stayed with the correct text and there were all sorts of other considerations. It wasn’t easy and anyone who has been reading this blog knows from my constant rants that I have lost my enthusiasm for new technologies.

As it turned out our $800 upgrade to InDesign CS 5 did NOT really create ebooks. It created “ePubs” that are used by Sony and Apple and several other e-book providers, but it did not create files that could be used by Amazon’s Kindle, which is the dominant reader in the marketplace. So after many months of frustrations I upgraded to InDesign CS 5.5 for another $400. Adobe assured me that they had corrected many of the problems with e-book production in this upgrade. From my perspective, I wasn’t particularly happy about having to pay for another upgrade when the first upgrade didn’t perform as promised.

And guess what? Adobe InDesign Creative Suite 5.5 STILL didn’t make all ebooks correctly. It corrected problems with the “ePub” format, but it did not create the “.mobi” format I needed for Kindles. I ended up spending months working with our e-book distributor and figuring out workarounds to create a workable Kindle version.

And now it’s done! And I am greatly relieved.

And the ebooks look fantastic!

We had always wanted to print our books in color but we could never afford it. “The Renewable Energy Handbook,” “Biodiesel Basics and Beyond” and “The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook” each have about 500 photos and graphics and it is fantastic to see them in color now.

Our ebooks are not small files by any means. These larger books are close to 50 megabytes, which compared to a black and white novel is monstrous. But I think anyone who is interested in things like renewable energy, or biodiesel production or growing food will appreciate being able to see our photos in color. It’s pretty awesome. I say that after having just spent months converting and optimizing and laying them all out. So yes, I’m a little biased.

The books are now available on most eBook reading platforms. They have taken weeks to work their way through the various uploading processes but they seem to be readily available.

Now that they’re done I’m pretty pumped about them. I still love “real” books and don’t even own an e-book reader, but I realize that some people really like them. And it saves us having to print and warehouse and ship books, so there are definitely some advantages to ebooks.

If you are planning on purchasing a Kindle edition of one of our books, please access amazon through our website because we get a very small fee when you do. And yes, they are our books, but after the retailer takes their cut and our distributor takes their cut, there’s not much profit left for us. In fact any item that you purchase from amazon after accessing it from our website, pays us a small commission. Every penny helps!

To order an e-book from amazon, please use this link;

Aztext Press on Amazon