Several folks have asked when The Fiddler’s Gun will be available on the Kindle. The answer: soon, very soon. I spent the weekend working on it and I thought some folks might be interested in the process. When you create a book for print, the final digital incarnation that gets sent off to the printer is a .PDF file. A PDF displays the book precisely as it will appear in print, each page blocked off perfectly with header and footer, page numbers, the whole kit and kaboodle. What you see is what you get. In a perfect world, eBook readers would be able to display this PDF file and things would be a lot simpler.
The reality is much different. The reason for this is due to one of the primary functions of an eReader: reflowable text. Because an eReader can resize the text to suit anyone’s eyes it has to be able to fill its pages with varying numbers of words. That means that eBooks don’t have a set number of pages. If someone likes their text big there might be 100 words on a page (screen) and 700 “pages” in the book. If another person prefers their text small, the eBook might end up with 400 words on a page and only 175 pages. And they can change their minds right in the middle of the book and resize the entire thing with the push of a button. Make sense?
This means all the formatting that took so much time for the print version has got to be done away with. In fact, the eBook is put together in HTML, the same formatting used to compose a webpage.
I’m a bit sad that the Kindle only permits one font. I dearly love the Garamond font that the print version of The Fiddler’s Gun is set in and it pains me a bit to see the way the Kindle renders it in its default font: something similar to Times New Roman.
So putting the book into Kindle format is primarily a matter of copying and pasting followed by a series of constant previewing to ensure that you’ve got all your page breaks in the right spot. Difficult? No, not particularly. Tedious? Very.
As I stripped the book down this weekend and rebuilt it as a Kindle book, I realized a disheartening thing. When it goes up for sale on Amazon.com, I will only receive a 35% royalty for each book sold. That’s about three bucks if I sell it for the typical price of a Kindle book. That means Amazon.com gets to keep $6 per copy for something that they didn’t write, didn’t edit, didn’t format, upload, or promote. Does that sound a little harsh to anyone else? It sure does to me.