Monthly Archives: November 2011

Writers and Artists in Residence


Seaplane Maine

Seaplane Maine

Mount Desert Island Maine

Artist-In-Residence Program at Acadia
The Artist-in-Residence Program at Acadia National Park offers professional writers, composers, and all visual and performing artists the opportunity to pursue their particular art form while surrounded by the inspiring landscape of the park. In the spring and fall, the park provides housing to participants for two-week to four-week periods.

In return, participating artists are asked to donate to the park collection a piece of work representative of their style and their stay. These creative works will be displayed on a rotating schedule or shared with the public through other appropriate means during the upcoming seasons. Artists are also asked to participate in one public program per week of their residency such as demonstrations, talks, exploratory hikes, or performances. In the fall, artists will be working with fifth and sixth grade students. Programs can be tailored to your medium, interests, and experiences, and only consume a few hours of your stay.

How to Apply
Applications for the program are accepted beginning October 1 and must be received by January 7 for consideration for the following season.

Catoctin Mountain Artist-In-Residence

This program offers visual, literary, and performing artists an opportunity to work in a natural and historic setting to advance art, nature, and history education and appreciation.

The Artist-In-Residence will spend two weeks immersed in the natural and cultural resources of the Catoctin Mountains. During this residency, the artist will produce a novel work and share the artistic process with the public.

The Catoctin Forest Alliance conservation area (namely: Catoctin Mountain and areas within two miles of its base, from the Pennsylvania border to the edge of Frederick) boasts many compelling subjects. Here the artist may find many historic sites, farms, quaint villages, rivers and streams, waterfalls, lakes, and other scenic views.

There are three residencies each year in May, August, and October.
Spring and Fall accommodations are in a historic log cabin in the woods of Catoctin Mountain Park. The cabin is rustic, but includes fully equipped kitchen and bath. Laundry facilities are available for the artist.
Amateur and professional artists of two- and three-dimensional arts, photographers, videographers, writers, and poets are encouraged to apply. In the future, we expect to open the program to musicians and other performing artists.

The Catoctin Forest Alliance will accept applications no later than January 15 for spring and summer residencies, and no later than June 15 for fall residencies.


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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Uncategorized


The Top 6 Tips to Successfully Publish and e-Publish


Beat the POD industry!
Are you ready to publish your first book? Follow these tips, and you will find the path to success much smoother!

Don’t wait to start marketing until your book is finished.
Many first-time publishers focus on the publishing process, and put off thinking about the marketing until they have books in hand (or in their garage). A book – no matter if it is an e-book or a traditional paper book – will succeed or fail on its marketing plan. Before starting your self-publishing project, find out who your audience is, and where and how you will find them. Move forward on a publishing project only after you have finished your marketing plan.

Bookstores don’t buy POD books.
Many novice publishers are opting for the heavily-advertised Print-On-Demand companies, which promise publication at low fees. For a niche book with an easily-found audience POD this can be an option. But what the POD companies won’t tell you,  is that neither bookstores nor libraries will generally buy a POD book. However, if you are savvy enough, you can find the right wholesale arrangement through Lightning Source / Ingram and Baker& Taylor as outlined in Aaron Shepard’s website and book But don’t expect to get the same retail discount from “brick and mortar stores” as with Amazon.

You can judge a book by its cover.
That’s what most people do.  You never get a second chance for a great first impression!  You can get a decent cover for as little as $100 and a fantastic cover for around $ 500 or more.  Just shop around and find out who makes great covers.

Act like a professional publisher.
Nothing is more embarrassing as finding reviews of your book on Amazon that complain about typing and grammar errors in your work. Make sure your book is complete, well-edited, and thoroughly proofread. Use spell checks, let it copy-edit, content edit and proofread by professionals – not your family or friends.  These services provide you with a manuscript that makes you look like the professional you are.

Don’t use the print shop down the road.
Search for a printer that specializes in printing books. You will not only have fewer problems with production, but the prices will be much less expensive.  You should be able to print 300 copies of a 250-page soft cover book for approx. $ 2.50 per copy.

Get 100 ISBNs if possible.
ISBN is the acronym for International Standard Book Number, and every book sold in bookstores and at most online retailers must have an ISBN. They are the global standard for identifying titles and used world-wide as a unique identifier for books. They simplify distribution and purchase of books throughout the global supply chain. Without an ISBN, you will not be found in most book stores, nor online.  In the U.S. ISBNs are available only from, and you can buy them in blocks of ten, 100, or 1000. The fewer you buy the less it costs, but buying just a block of ten marks you as a one-book publisher. And everyone in the publishing industry can figure out how many ISBNs you’ve purchased by looking at your ISBN number.

Self-publishing can not only be lucrative, it can be a lot of fun too. But you need some careful planning to really enjoying true self-publishing.  A very helpful book when starting out the independent publishing route is “The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days” (Kindle Edition) by Fern Reiss that gives you valuable technical tips during your publishing process.


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Entrepreneurial Authors and Self-publishing

The e-book revolution is a blessing for both, readers and authors, entrepreneurial authors have the highest success of all when self-publishing.  I am predicting that e-Readers soon will be more common than a TV in households.

The old monopoly of agents and publishers controlling what and who gets published is totally broken. History proves that this elite is no better at judging the quality and potential success of books than the reading public.

Only a few bestseller authors are chosen by traditional publishers for the royal treatment —  often those who don’t need the support. Their books are everywhere. At the same time, though, the volume of online review sources has exploded. And the number of reviewers who review self-published and/or indie authors is climbing.  In addition, there are a host of websites that will feature your traditionally published novel. So it’s not as if promotion and support isn’t there–  it’s just moved online.

“During the last weeks, HarperCollins has seen its ebook sales growing almost 10 percent, week-on-week”.  And Random House: “We’ve seen e-book growth outstrip our total sales.”

Don’t forget: E-book readers tend to buy more books than none-ebooks readers.





Hyper Smash


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Copyright and Fair Use of Online Images

Maple Tree

Do you understand the term fair use?
Just because you provide attribution and/or a link back to the original doesn’t mean you’re free and clear. Fair use has nothing to do with attribution. That’s an issue related to plagiarism – different from copyright.

A classic example of fair use of an image to use online is product reviews. If you want to review a book, a new piece of technology, a food product or whatever widget, you’ll likely want to include a photo.

Fair use basically means you’re allowed to infringe on someone’s copyright and they can’t do anything about it. If your use is covered by fair use, you don’t have to provide attribution anyway (although it would be nice). The question is:

  • Why are you using the image?
  • Did you transform the image?
  • How much of the image are you using?
  • Are you willing to risk your site being taken down?

Read the whole article here:




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Why Did I Self-Publish?

Book "The Happiest Person Alive"

Book "The Happiest Person Alive"

James Altucher, formerly published by such traditional houses as Wiley and Penguin wrote in one of his blogs:

Publishers claim they do a lot of marketing for you. That’s laughable. Publishers do nothing to help 95% of their authors to build their platforms and their own brands. This would increase author loyalty and make the lack of a meaningful advance almost worth it.

I’ll give you a quick example. I have published five books with major publishers. The majority of books now are sold through Amazon. Not a single publisher told me I can log into:

  • Amazon’s Author Central
  • create an author’s page
  • link my author’s page to my blog
  • upload a Video
  • have my Twitter feed in there
  • have an FAQ in there

and all the other basic tools Amazon uses to market your book.

Why? This is the world’s biggest bookseller. Why wasn’t I told about a basic marketing platform I could use?  I just learned about it last week after writing books for eight years. Now I have it all hooked up and I have a feeling I’ve only begun to explore the Author Central area and what Amazon can do for me.”

Read all the other reasons why he self-publishes:



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Economic Suicide – Good morning America

Wake up!
Hope you survived Black Friday and haven’t been hurt while shopping at this Chinese outlet (aka Wal-Mart) and found at least some Made-in-America items at the Small Business Saturday.
Start thinking!  
What many American, Canadian and European citizens don’t grasp is this: The flood of artificially cheap Chinese goods, putting America out of business has been a down payment on these countries present and future UNEMPLOYMENT. And unemployed people have less purchase power, meaning less business for retailers in the long run.

Still reading “Death by China” about the demise of our economy.  Why don’t we use our power as consumers, if the politicians are so stupid and ignore the long-term disastrous effects of outsourcing North American jobs?




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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Bestsellers


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Are you confused about so-called Royalties?

10%-30% from list, 10% of the wholesale price, 20% of the payments received by the publisher, 30% of the price as it’s listed on our website, 50% of net receipts, 45% minus printing costs, 60% from gross… One of the most confusing aspects you must face when choosing a POD printer is trying to figure out what they mean when they speak of “Royalties”.

POD printers that are paying a percentage of the retail price as “Royalty” are straight forward and you have the advantage of knowing where you stand and what to expect. You get what they say, usually 10% from wholesale sales, 25-30% from retail sales – hopefully more…

There are other printers who are a little less straight forward. For example, uPublish pays you 20-40% from your retail price, but they won’t pay you any royalties at all for the first three copies sold each quarter. Is this a fair “hidden” charge? It depends on the number of copies you are selling each quarter. If you sell less than 10 books, then it’s very high, if you sell 100 it becomes almost negligible.

You might get an offer for a fixed percentage of the retail price that seems to be extremely attractive (30-35%)… before you jump on board, make sure that they work through Ingram and other distributors. If they can afford such royalties because they only sell their books through their site you could end up losing money..

Some POD printers offer you a percentage of your retail price, but only for direct sales. When it comes to wholesale sales they give you a percentage of the wholesale price. Infinity Publishing is such a company, they will pay you 20% of your retail price on direct sales, and 10% of the wholesale price on books sold through other channels.  For a $15.00 book with a 40% wholesale discount it would be $3.00 on direct sales and $0.90 on wholesale – not acceptable! 

Even if you can buy your paper book at a discount in order to resell it, you’ll still have to pay other charges, and how can you offer it for a competitive price to bookstores?  But why do you have to buy your own book? You already paid for the printing, didn’t you?  It means you pay TWICE for your book… and on top of that bookstores can return books if they are not sold within a certain time.

Consider this:
CreateSpace / Amazon offers do-it-yourself publishing packages for free upload of your paper book but you need to create your own cover and interior and submit it correctly edited to CreateSpace. CreateSpace recommends its free do-it-yourself packages for people with design experience (or you just hire a graphic designer).  CreateSpace offers packages that are similar to publishing packages offered by other self-publishing/POD companies, but starting for only $299. 

CreateSpace eStore 20% of list price per sale, this means if someone orders it from CreatSpace’s ebook store on your authors page, you will receive 80% (minus the production/printing cost, mines tax and shipping) 40% of list price per sale means you get 60% of the list price per sale (minus the production/printing cost, mines tax and shipping).

Expanded Distribution Channel 60% of list price if ordered by bookstores, libraries etc.

But as with all POD companies, you pay for printing and then you have to give them a percentage of your sales for the distribution and the rest that is left is called a “royalty”.


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Don’t rush to get your book out


They call themselves often “Publisher” and almost everyone else uses this phrase too. But they are content managers / POD printers / book distributors – not really publishers. They do not pay any advances and are mostly not too concerned about any editing of your book – unless they can make a business out of it, using freelance editors, and charge you hefty fees.

Here are some tips for a smooth self-publishing experience:

Research the self-publishing company you plan to use thoroughly. Check out:

  • Ask lots of questions and let them know your expectations.  Read their website carefully.  Learn everything you can about the publication process and the cost.  Find out what type of author support is available, and what they expect from their authors.  Contact several of their authors.  
  • Take the time to submit a manuscript that is error free. A professional edit is a MUST.
  • Review proofs extremely carefully. Make sure corrections are done properly. Let it read by at least one more person.
  • Enjoy the process. Publishing a book is a major accomplishment. Instead of rushing it, take the time to savor each moment.



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Help is On The Way: Fiverr

I am not sure if you get someone to create an eBook cover for $5, but probably to send out hundreds of likes to Facebook friends or tweet your book to them.  With over 75,000 active listings on the site you might find a quick and inexpensive fix for many challenges in self-publishing, website issues and even lots of social marketing help. For me, it turned to be an instant success delivery for the tiny amount of $5 that I spent on each small gig, ordered at Fiverr.

There’s a flurry of practical micro tasks: CSS micro bugging, social marketing, resume revising and PowerPoint editing help. Here are some samples of “I will”:

• Will place 40 Delicious, 40 Diigo and 40 StumpleUpon bookmarks for you website/video for $5 

• Will send 350+ likes to Facebook from real human for you in less than 48 hours just for $5

• Will write original and effective content up to 500 words for your website for $5

• Will edit your FICTION eBook of up to 5000 words for $5

• Will create and manage a Facebook page and app for your website for $5

• Will tweet your product, services, or link to my 16,000+ twitter followers for $5

• Will translate any text from 50 to 200 words from English to Spanish and vice versa for $5 

• Will draw a cartoon with your messages or sentences for $5

• Will do 50 comments on your blog for $5

• Will post any message on my Facebook wall of 4,000 friends for $5

• Will convert ANY of your files from one format to another for $5

• Will edit, proofread and provide feedback on any document up to ten pages for $5

• Will write a positive REVIEW for your book on Barnes and Noble for $5

• Will audit your website design and usability from a DESIGNERS point of view for $5

• Will make a nice logo design for your business and deliver the LOGO within 3 days for $5

• Will draw a custom logo for your business or website and make it into a graphic for your use for $5

• Will do Performance Testing of your website for $5

• Will teach you how you can Set Up a Database in Excel for $5

• Will edit CSS for you for $5 is really easy to use, give it a try. Snippets from the Wall Street Journal:

“Although buyers pay $5, sellers receive less than $4, after PayPal payment-processing and Fiverr fees, which is the primary way the site makes money. PayPal is the payment method and posting a gig is free.” “, is a site that allows you to buy and sell (business) tasks for $5 and the site is a good match for this economy. Buyers are looking for cheap prices and sellers are often unemployed or underemployed, seeking freelance income. “There is a bizarre joy to browsing the sometimes hilarious user-created content on the site.”




What is the Role of a Publicist?


Barnes & Noble Baltimore, MD

Barnes & Noble Baltimore, MD

In traditional publishing it’s called publicist, for everywhere else it’s a Public Relations Manager. 
Here is a sample of their job description: The Publicist manages all aspects of a publicity campaign for approximately 2-3 titles a month.

In this role you will:
-Publicize books and authors; schedule interviews with broadcast and print media.
-Book local and national publicity in broadcast and print media as well as bookstore tours.
-Brief authors on how to handle interviews, develop media contacts, and accompany authors on interviews.
-Write press releases, pitch letters and other promotional materials relating to tours.
-Coordinate all publicity activities on assigned titles from the mailing of galleys to the development of proper angles and pitches; schedule and plan bookstore appearances and special events; coordinate publicity updates for division and sales force.
-Schedule/book author travel.

-4 year college degree or equivalent business experience
-3-4 years prior relevant work experience – including booking experience, thorough familiarity with the media, and experience with paperbacks
-Excellent written and verbal communication skills
-Must be detailed-oriented, well-organized and able to set priorities under pressure

Media Bistro has this current job offer by Harper Collins Publishers, New York right now on their website:




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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Book Sales, Marketing, Publishing


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Author Beware…it’s a long post

Stop Sign99% of all manuscripts will be accepted by vanity publishers (aka subsidy publishers), and will be published – as long as the author is willing to pay their (totally inflated) prices.

I am sure you have seen these small ads in literary magazines or on the internet:  “If your book deserves publication, send your manuscript now to …”.  And authors do not have to wait long for a response to their submission.

The main goal of these vanity publishers is to have their printing company busy, so they are not really into executing the work of a traditional publisher.  A background check reveals in almost all cases that they are either printers or affiliated with a printing company.  I was shocked to learn that even one of the best Canadian book printing companies went into vanity publishing a year ago.

Authors are certainly surprised when they encounter a publisher who wants money up-front. It should be the other way around shouldn’t it?  After the author, having signed a hefty check, eventually learns that paying for publication is no guarantee that a single copy of his book will appear in any book shop, not even the local ones.

Many vanity publishers will charge somewhere between $8,000 to $20,000 (or even more) to publish a book depending upon its length. Why would an author pay $20,000 when he or she can have the same book printed for $1,500?

Nevertheless, the contract will be full of promises: What exactly will be paid to the author for subsequent reprinting, subsidiary, for audio and e-books, mass-market paperback rights, TV & Radio rights, merchandising and commercial rights and even film and foreign rights – to make the author believing that his “publisher” actively solicits his manuscript in Holywood.

Vanity contracts include usually a certain amount of “free” copies for the author; sometimes even as much as 10 books and if he/ she require more, they have to be paid. In reality, he / she is paying for them twice…

The stock of unsold books remains the property of the publisher, so if there is a chance to remainder them later, he takes the proceeds. In most cases, only a certain number of copies in an edition will actually be bound; the rest will remain in the warehouse as flat printed sheets until required, which is probably never.

Vanity / subsidy publishers are not concerned with editing, promotion, sales or distribution – unless the author pays additionally. For most vanity books, neither exists, and should review copies really being sent out: Reviewers are wary of vanity presses because they know that little attention is paid to the editing of the book. Unless the vanity house has a proven distribution and sales organization, the author is going to have to sell it himself and usually the book sells fewer than 200 copies.

As seen in a Vanity publisher contract:
In the event of bankruptcy or liquidation of the publisher for any cause whatever, the author shall have the right to buy back the publications at fair market value to be determined by agreement or arbitration.” (That means, die author has to pay a second time for all his unsold books).  “If the author does not purchase remaining copies of the book, the representative of the publisher shall have the right to sell same at the best obtainable price without payment of royalty to the author.”  Unbelievable! Unethical! Criminal!

Beware of these signs:

– Don’t trust flattering letters concerning your manuscript.
– Be suspicious of vague promises of quality production. You will not get it in writing…
– Be wary of promises to sell television and film rights, serial books and other money-making options.
– Read, read and read once more the contract.
– Don’t pay a dime, get a copy of the contract and show it to a lawyer that is specialized in contract / copyright law.
– Watch out for contract clauses, that allow the publisher to renegotiate his initial pitch, and also where the “Publisher shall have the right to license the rights set forth”.

Beside their over-the-top printing prices, Vanity publishers might cheat you in a contract that expires only 50 years after your death and with worldwide rights, even universe rights – a contract that a friend of mine signed in Ontario, Canada (and paid dearly).

“The author hereby grants the publisher, during the full term of copyright, the sole and exclusive right to manufacture, print, publish and sell and to otherwise use, as set out further in this agreement, including, but not limited to, acting as agent and/or exercising any or all subsidiary rights, throughout the universe the work.” And: “The copyright remains with the author, until fifty (50) years after the death of the author. All covenants and grants of the author shall bind the author’s successors or assigns.

Despite all the warnings, there are still writers who fall into the trap of vanity / subsidy publishing. As soon as one vanity publisher goes out of business, another fills the gap.  




Hyper Smash

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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in Publishing Contracts


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Amazon’s Sales Rank Express

Want to check your books sales rank?
Get all these details for FREE from Aaron Shepards website:

– Sales rank checking for Kindle Books in four countries.
– More detailed stats on Customer Reviews, with a breakdown by number of stars.
– Quick sales rank checking of multiple print books on Amazon in nine countries,      including Spain, Italy, and China.
– Charts of the last week’s sales ranks, with visible peaks that let you make quick sales estimates and spot trends. In order to see charts, turn on “Tracking” for each title.

Aaron Shepard, the author of “Aiming at Amazon” and a dozen more books offers this great service tool for fellow writers on his website (since 2008), check it out:

The New York Times wrote once about it:





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“Failing Mr. Fisher”

Just enjoyed this book:

Failing Mr. Fisher“, Kindle Edition, by James Wintermote

Book: Failing Mr. Fisher
Jim Fisher is a first year teacher who quickly learns that his job is more than simply educating his students.  He has to battle indolence in the classroom, enabling parents, and an educational system which caters to student and parental incompetence. 

Fisher tries to keep his standards and expectations high, even when he has to go head to head with an administrator who becomes his nemesis.

The novel also takes a glimpse into Fisher’s personal life as he tries to balance the perils of dating with the trials and tribulations of his profession. 

The result is a hilarious explosion of absurdity, both in and out of the classroom, that takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride of entertainment and edification.

Failing Mr. Fisher is based on the teaching experiences of James Wintermote and his family and colleagues.  Using humor and candor, the novel gives us an insider’s perspective into why the foundation of the American public education system is crumbling and how it affects not only the students, but more importantly the teachers who have been given the responsibility to educate our nation’s children.
Author Information
James Wintermote was born and raised in El Centro, California. After high school, he spent six years in the U.S. Navy, and then entered the University of Wyoming, receiving a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After working in radio for two years, he returned to UW and earned a second degree in English/Journalism Education.  While teaching language arts at various high schools in Nevada, he earned his Master’s degree in Teaching. In 2004 he was admitted to the Great Basin Writing Project’s Invitational Summer Institute (an affiliate of the National Writing Project) and later become its technology liaison from 2005 – 2009.

He was selected as a participant in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund teacher exchange program for the October 2006 cycle and spent two weeks in Japan visiting schools in the prefecture of Eniwa, as well as staying with a host family and learning about the local culture.  Coming from a family of educators has been a major source of inspiration for his novel. His father is a retired science teacher, and his older brother Michael, younger sister Judy, and younger brother Kelly are also teachers. He currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in e-Books


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Checklist for Your Author Website

Web Presence Name

Before you (or your web designer) start creating your website make a plan that should cover at least these points:

Checklist for Your Author Website

– Domain Name
– Web hosting
– Programming language **
– Font type*
– Page layout
– Text preparation and editing
– Image preparation for web
– Customer tracking system
– Payment systems
– Usability tests
– Website marketing
– Search Engine Optimization

* Arial or Verdana are available on all computers
** HTML or XHTML & CSS, if you sell your book(s) from your website: shopping cart PHP embedded

Create a quality website, interesting content, be genuine and give your customers value.

Bulletproof Webdesign

Book Dont Make Me Think

Webdesign books on Amazon:

  • Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition, by Steve Krug
  • The Web Designer’s Idea Book, Vol. 2, by Patrick McNeil
  • Learning Web Design: A Beginner’s Guide to (X)HTML, CSS, by Jennifer Niederst Robbins
  • White Space is Not Your Enemy, by Kim Golombisky
  • The Principles of Beautiful Web Design, by Jason Beaird
  • Bulletproof Web Design: Improving flexibility and protecting against worst-case scenarios with XHTML and CSS, by Dan Cederholm 
  • Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML, by E. Freeman and E. Robson
  • Beginning HTML, XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript, by Jon Duckett 





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Posted by on November 21, 2011 in Marketing, Website & SEO


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Bravo ! Amazon ! Finally !

Kindle Fire

Kindle Fire

Suddenly e-books are much better looking…

Amazon released its Kindle Fire, and the company is already working on tweaking its vast collection of eBooks for maximum compatibility with the Kindle Fire. 

Amazon is retiring its MOBI format in favour of the new .KF8 format (or Kindle Format 8), including support for 150 new formatting tags, which include HTML5 and CSS support.

The eCommerce giant had in the past used and supported Mobi 7. 

HTML5 is quickly becoming the new web standard so it is not a total surprise to hear that Amazon is moving in this direction.  Amazon will convert all existing content into the .KF8 format, and users also have the option of updating existing titles they have on their Kindle ebook readers and Kindle readers on other mobile platforms.

Amazon is also releasing a new set of Kindle Publishing Guidelines, which ebook authors and publishers should take into consideration when building their content for distribution via Amazon!

This is where a professional formatting / conversion company gives helpful support to authors and self-publishers. Publishers will also need to update their titles in order to use the new format.

The new Amazon Kindle format will ideally support a wider array of devices, and not just Amazon’s proprietary Kindle ebook reader. The new format also allows for more versatile formatting, as well as a more portable format. The company is said to be looking for a replacement for its .MOBI format, and this seems to be it.




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