At BB eBooks, the core of what we do is take your manuscript that you entrust to us and transform it into a beautiful eBook ready for immediate sale in the MOBI/KF8 format (the proprietary eBook format used by Amazon) and EPUB format (the open-source eBook standard used by everybody else). On request, we can also create a PDF for Print-on-Demand or Advance Review Copies. Designing an eBook is a technical and labor-intensive process, and many publishers, small presses, and independent authors have chosen to outsource this work. Our turnaround time is approximately 2-3 working days for your eBook.
We believe that eBooks should provide a new kind of experience for readers, rather than just dull replicas of the print version. Our design standards for your eBook include the following plus many more features available upon request:
If you’re curious to see how our eBooks look, please have a look at our portfolio of satisfied clients or download some sample eBooks to enjoy the classics. Trying to customize all this design with an automated conversion program is not possible. eBook creation involves encoding all the content, design, and metadata of your manuscript into HTML, CSS, and XML, while dealing with all the bugs and proprietary standards that are pervasive throughout eReading devices. At BB eBooks we take your manuscript and turn it into the source code needed to render properly on all eReading devices. Contact us for a quote and let us save you the time and frustration.
We pride ourselves on providing professional, technical services for content creators. BB eBooks also understand that it is a rough world out there in eBook land, especially for the little guy. Therefore, we proudly do not offer the following items, unlike some other author services:
The quote that we send you is all you have to pay to get a copy of your professional eBook. There are no strings attached. At this time, we do not provide editing, marketing, or promotion services. In addition, we are not able to scan print books and turn them into eBooks. However, if you as a content creator feel the need for a new service, please let us know, and we can try to work it into our regular offerings.
Some people believe that making an eBook is as simple as running a Microsoft Word or Open Office manuscript through a software program and uploading it directly to Amazon. Unfortunately, it is not that easy. If you try this method, you and your customers will be incredibly disappointed with the results. Authors spend hundreds of hours writing their book, an editor spends hundreds of more hours fine-tuning the work, and a significant amount of time and resources are spent marketing the book. However, no attention to detail is paid to how the eBook looks to the reader in many cases.
To understand why it is essential that you don’t convert eBooks directly from your word processing software into an eBook format, eBooks have to be envisioned differently than regular documents.
A typical document in your word processing software has the following characteristics:
The regular document that you have created in your word processing software can be defined as “What You See Is What You Get” or WYSIWYG. Word processing software is great for preparing reports, working on your manuscript, and sharing amongst friends. The .doc format created in Microsoft Word and the .odt from Open Office are examples of a WYSIWYG document that can be easily changed. The PDF format is an example of a finalized WYSIWYG document that cannot be easily changed.
However, eReader devices come in all shapes in sizes, ranging from a big desktop PC to a tiny iPhone. Fixing the document with a set font size, number of pages, and margins for display on a PC would prove to be a very poor reading experience for someone using a smartphone.
Therefore, eBook formats have evolved to have the following characteristics:
By allowing these flexible characteristics in eBook formats, readers can have an enjoyable experience no matter what type of device they are using. Because word processing software favors a fixed approach, it is necessary to strip all the predefined formatting within the word processing software and convert your document into formats that are suitable for all eReading devices.
For more details on where and how to publish your eBook, please view our Publishing section. Also, please consider signing up for our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest news from the industry and tips on marketing your eBook.
Market share: ~70% internationally (source: Creditdonkey)
eBook Format: MOBI/KF8
Amazon is the worldwide leader in eBook sales. Nobody even comes close. The 2012 Department of Justice decision to go after the big publishing houses engaged in agency pricing was seen as further strengthening Amazon’s position in the eBook distribution market. It is possible to self-publish on Amazon through the Kindle Direct Publishing program, but please consult their guidelines as they frequently change. Typically, any sale of $2.99 or more nets the self-publisher 70%, while sales under $2.99 nets 35%. There is no fee for publishing your eBook on Amazon’s Kindle store.
Amazon has a number of e-ink devices (Kindle Touch, Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle 3, etc.), as well as a tablet (the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD). Amazon also puts out Kindle apps for the iPad, iPhone, and Android devices, so you don’t need to buy their hardware to be part of the Kindle ecosystem. The eBook format for older e-ink Kindle devices and the Kindle apps is MOBI, which is a proprietary format owned by Amazon. There are major restrictions on how content can be displayed in this format including: no wrapping text around images, no support for drop caps, poor support for ordered and unordered lists, etc. Fortunately, Amazon came out with a new format called KF8 for the Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, and Paperwhite that has much better support for complex eBooks. This new KF8 format has also been made available as an update to the Kindle Touch and third- and fourth-generation Kindles.
When BB eBooks makes your MOBI/KF8 eBook, it is one file that will support the more complex features on the Kindle Fire and upgraded Kindles, while still having backwards compatibility with older e-ink Kindles and the Kindle apps. You only need to upload one file to Amazon for all devices.
Market share: ~20% USA and declining (source: Creditdonkey)
eBook Format: EPUB
Barnes & Noble announced a multi-million dollar partnership with Microsoft in 2012, but sales figures released at the end of 2012 indicated that they were in serious trouble. It looks like they may be going under in the near future, unfortunately. While the Nook reading device is not as popular as the Kindle, it is very popular with American women. If you are crafting eBooks in the romance genre, do not neglect this market. Barnes & Noble has a self-publishing program called Nook Press that is similar to Amazon’s KDP. At this time, you must possess an American bank account and credit card to utilize Nook Press, but hopefully they will open this program up to the international community soon. As an alternative, you can distribute to the Nook store through Smashwords.
The eBook format supported by Barnes & Noble is EPUB, the open source standard for eBooks. The EPUB format is superior to MOBI/KF8 in almost every way. BB eBooks always provides you with an EPUB eBook as part of our services.
Market share: ~5-10% (source: Creditdonkey)
eBook Format: EPUB and EPUB3
While the entire world is snapping up Apple hardware products and apps for a variety of different purposes, the iBookstore (where eBooks are sold) and iBooks (the app that reads eBooks) have been a bit of a disappointment. Despite having a pretty slick design, the content delivery system has not been able to effectively compete with Amazon. Apple launched iBooks Author in early 2012, which was supposed to revolutionize digital textbooks. Unfortunately, you can only use the program to sell your eBook within Apple’s ecosystem (without getting a hefty fee levied), and almost no one is using it. BB eBooks does not generate your eBook on any platform where there would be these types of restrictions. One good thing about iBooks is that they support the EPUB3 specification in its most basic features. BB eBooks can embed audio and video, popup footnotes, and some other interactive features in EPUB3 eBooks.
Like Barnes & Noble, iBookstore uses the open source EPUB format. However, publishing with Apple is not an easy task. You need to have a Mac and there is an arduous approval process. However, there is an alternative way to get on the iBookstore… Smashwords (please see below).
eBook Format: EPUB
The Canadian-based company Kobo (which was recently acquired by the Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten) launched their much anticipated self-publishing platform in July 2012: Kobo Writing Life. This platform provides independent authors and small presses greater access to international markets where the Kobo is popular such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. While it is possible to get your eBook for sale at Kobo through Smashwords, the opportunity to directly upload an EPUB to the Writing Life store ensures that Kobo readers receive a professional-quality eBook without the ugliness of .doc to EPUB conversion. The only downside of Kobo’s Writing Life is that the technical documentation is poor on the actual publishing process.
The EPUB created for you by BB eBooks is valid for immediate upload and sale at the Kobo Writing Life platform.
eBook Format: EPUB
Smashwords has an eBook store, but where they really distinguish themselves is by distributing your eBook to a wide variety of other vendors to include Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo (popular in Canada), iBookstore, and a few others. The royalties they charge for the distribution are miniscule, which makes Smashwords very attractive to the indie community. Like Amazon’s KDP, anyone can sign up as a publisher, you just need a Social Security number (for American citizens) or a ITIN (for the international community). For a while, the downside was that you had to upload a .doc file that went through their Meatgrinder and converted it into the necessary eBook formats. There were a lot of problems with this approach of using software to automatically convert fixed-layout to reflowable text (see above). Luckily, Smashwords changed their strategy starting in 2013, and you can now upload EPUBs directly for distribution. BB eBooks can provide you an EPUB eBooks that is guaranteed to get into the Smashwords Premium catalog.
eBook Format: EPUB
Since EPUB is an open source standard, the smaller eBook vendors tend to opt for this format. With BB eBooks, your EPUB will look great no matter what distributor or eReading device you are using. In the future, expect to see some competition with Amazon from vendors using the EPUB format. There is also a new specification for eBooks called EPUB3, and new eReading software the gets developed will have better support for interactivity, foreign languages, mathematical formulas, and much more. Currently, only iBooks and Readium support the basic EPUB 3 specification. If you have a special eBook project that requires complex formatting like embedded multimedia and popup footnotes, please contact us, and we can create an EPUB3 eBook for you.
PDF’s are ubiquitous all over the world. However, they are a fixed-layout format, which makes them less-than-ideal for a pleasant reading experience, especially fiction. At BB eBooks, we are able to convert your eBook into a PDF for an additional fee if you are interested in sharing it amongst friends, selling on your website, or going Print-on-Demand through a program like CreateSpace or Lightning Source.
BB eBooks can produce Fixed Layout eBooks if you have a children’s book or comic book. We provide you with a fixed-layout MOBI/KF8 for Kindle, EPUB3 for iBooks, and an EPUB3 that can be read on the Readium plugin for Google Chrome. Embedding multimedia, such as audio, to spruce up your eBook is also possible. To publish your fixed-layout eBook on iTunes, you must publish directly through iTunes Producer rather than going through an aggregator like Smashwords or Draft2Digital. We do not recommend fixed-layout eBooks for complex works of non-fiction, and we’re happy to advise you on ways to get your book into a proper reflowable format. Prices start at $120 and please contact us separately for a quote on your project. More details on Fixed Layout eBooks on our blog and a sample is of The Real Mother Goose is available here.