Category Archives: Testing and Uploading

Putting your book onto different E-readers and putting it online.

Swimming Against the Current

There are lots of different E-readers out there…just as there are lots of different rivers in Brazil.

So far, these tutorials have been using pretty nonpartisan, platform-independent technologies: HTML and CSS, EPUB and RTF, JPG and GIF. My most recent instructional blog post covered using open-source Sigil to get us to an EPUB, the standard E-book format recognized the world over as the dominant electronic book platform for people who have never heard of an Amazon Kindle.

kindle vending machine at MSP airport

I hate it when the Kindle tablet just kinda hangs there at the edge of the shelf until I jolt the vending machine.

Right. Sure. EPUB is recognized the world over as the dominant electronic book platform for people who have never heard of an Amazon Kindle. But a lot of people have heard of an Amazon Kindle. As I learned during Christmas travels, even the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport has heard of an Amazon Kindle.

Someday, we will all drive solar-powered cars, vacation in Castro-free Cuba, and read E-books that are not on Amazon-controlled Kindles. I look forward to those days, but I need to live in (and publish for) the real world of 2015. “Kindle” is synonymous with “E-reader” the way “Google” is synonymous with “search engine”: many people aren’t even aware that the alternatives exist. Even Apple’s iBooks platform, arguably the most sophisticated and certainly the most widespread implimentation of EPUB, has but a small fraction of the North American readership.

Few small presses can afford to ignore Kindle’s huge chunk of the market. (Even large presses struggle to do so.) If we want our poetry books to be bought, sold, and read electronically, we have to get them into a format that Amazon likes, and that means the proprietary formats of KF8 and/or mobi7. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Publishing Industry, Testing and Uploading

The Poem? How Many Divisions Does it Have?

As I put the finishing touches on Yellow Buick Review No. 2, I take a minute to reflect on what has changed, for good and ill.

This tutorial is based on the first generation of HTML/CSS techniques we figured out (with plenty of help) for our poetry E-books and E-book anthologies. The first issue of Yellow Buick Review used those techniques. The commercial offerings at Bicycle Comics all use the first generation markup/code. It works, it looks good, it’s even elegant in the right light.

We have a second-generation set of techniques, though. Those are what I’ve been using on Yellow Buick Review No. 2. The biggest difference? YBR 2 uses the div element to structure each stanza of a poem.

(Update: We now have a third-generation set of markup techniques that use media queries to serve cascading style sheets appropriate to the device in use. Most of this post is now outdated, but I’ll leave it here as a marker of our thinking in mid-September, 2014.)

Here are two stanzas of a poem formatted using 1st Gen YBR markup:


<p class="PoemStanza">Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.</p>
<p class="PoemLine">Etiam id lacus ligula. Sed libero sem, ullamcorper</p>
<p class="PoemLine">Non pulvinar eget, ultricies eu felis.</p>
<p class="PoemStanzaIndent1">Etiam lacinia metus ligula, sed convallis turpis tristique eu.</p>
<p class="PoemLineIndent1">Nam in tortor dictum odio dapibus egestas.</p>
<p class="PoemLineIndent1">Nullam id odio ut ante lobortis sodales eget sed quam.</p>

Compare that with the same poem in 2nd Gen YBR markup:


<div class="PoemStanza">
<p class="PoemLine">Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. </p>
<p class="PoemLine">Etiam id lacus ligula. Sed libero sem, ullamcorper </p>
<p class="PoemLine">Non pulvinar eget, ultricies eu felis. </p>
</div>
<div class="PoemStanzaIndent1">
<p class="PoemLine">Etiam lacinia metus ligula, sed convallis turpis tristique eu.</p>
<p class="PoemLine">Nam in tortor dictum odio dapibus egestas. </p>
<p class="PoemLine">Nullam id odio ut ante lobortis sodales eget sed quam.</p>
</div>

The big difference? In 2nd Gen, each stanza gets wrapped in its own <div> tags. It is the <div>, not the <p>, that holds the margin-top attribute and value. 2nd Gen also uses percentages for most of its measurements, not em.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Look and Feel, Testing and Uploading

A Poetry E-book’s Quest for Validation

Before we split our E-book’s .html file into chapters, let’s run it past the W3C’s Validator.

Okay, okay, terrible joke. But the idea is sound, and important. This is an HTML5 document, styled using a now external CSS2 style sheet. (Someday, maybe, I’ll code the style sheet in CSS3, but don’t hold your breath.) It will become an E-book during Step 5, but for now, it’s a Web page. In fact, you can even go see it live on the Web:
Yellow Buick Review with External CSS
Yellow Buick Review “Apricot” .css file

Before we split this book into chapters, we should check to be sure that our code is correct. You find spelling errors in your documents with a a spell checker, and you find code errors in your E-books with a validator. To do that, you use the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C’s) Validation Service. There is a validator built into Adobe Dreamweaver, but all it does is ask the W3C’s Validation Service for an opinion. I’ll get exactly the same information using the Website.

I’ll do three things:

  1. Test my HTML code against the markup validator.
  2. Test my CSS code against the CSS validator.
  3. Fix any real errors that the validators point out. (Just as with spellcheckers, not all errors will be “real.”)

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Testing and Uploading

Available Now: The Yellow Buick Review Vol. I

Download your free copy of The Yellow Buick Review today.

yellow buick review cover

Ain’t she a beauty?

I’m still working on my backlog of tutorials, but since Yellow Buick Review is now accepting submissions, I figured I ought to make Volume I available. You can download it free from Bicycle Comics starting today. Once all the tutorials are up, I’ll also list it on the official stores for Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Kobo.

The Yellow Buick Review is the world’s least-prestigious, most-helpful literary magazine. The poems are total nonsense, the formatting is solid, and the code is open-source for all to see, critique, and adapt.

Download your free copy of The Yellow Buick Review, take it for a spin, and pop the hood to see how it all works. I’d love to know what you think.

Creative Commons License
Yellow Buick Review by yellowbuickreview.wordpress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2 Comments

Filed under Testing and Uploading

Become a Yellow Buick Review…Reviewer!

I’m tired of poetry anthologies that suck. Help me help other small presses get it right.

I’ve been posting E-book formatting tutorials for two months, and while I still have more ground to cover, I can see that I’m getting close to releasing the first issue of The Yellow Buick Review, so you can see what all this HTML/CSS/mobi7 fuss is about. To be clear, the techniques I’m describing are the techniques we actually use over at Bicycle Comics to produce and sell chart-topping poetry E-books. So I know our code works. But E-books and E-readers evolve quickly, and I want to be sure that the first issue looks great on old and new devices. So I’m asking for a few beta readers to review The Yellow Buick Review.

Yellow Buick Review DownloadReviewing is easy. I’ll just need you to load the Yellow Buick Review file onto your device, flip through a few pages, and send me one or two screenshots. You don’t need to read the book. You don’t need to write and post a review to Goodreads or Amazon. (The book, as you’ve probably noticed, is total gibberish, so you can’t read it.) And if you find any problems or glitches, I’d appreciate your letting me know. You can sign up to be a reviewer with this form.

Hey, lots of literary magazines have indecipherable poems and bogus “reviewers.” YBR is just the first lit mag to brag about it.

Thank you in advance!

Updated July 31, 2014: The Yellow Buick Review Volume I is available now! I’d still love a few screenshots of how it’s working on your device!

Leave a comment

Filed under Testing and Uploading