Saturday, August 15, 2015

Barnes and Noble's Mistake



In 1978, I wrote a picture book story: Ladybugs for Loretta.  My friend Francie illustrated it.  Because our only publication option was print (ebooks hadn’t been invented yet) we decided to limit the colors to black and red.  That meant two pieces of art for each drawing and two passes through the press.  We printed 1500 copies.  We split the stack. And we sold them.

A few years ago, we had an offer from a small press to bring our book back into print, but with only black and white illustrations.  We turned them down

A few months ago, Francie emailed me – she had used her watercolor magic on all the old illustrations.  Would I please drop everything and make ebooks?

I did some minor edits to the text.

She sent me scans of all the colored art.  

I used my word processor to create both doc and pdf files.  These days, that’s easy. Just click Publish to PDF.

I uploaded the PDF to Amazon.  Voila – we had a published book.

Amazon has a print-on-demand division. I sent them the PDF and a cover graphic.  Now we had the print book we’d always intended, which full color illustrations on every page.

But, we were missing part of our audience – in other words, we wanted to expand our market.

Barnes and Noble has an ebook reader called Nook that is supposed to be at least as good as Amazon’s Kindle.

I tried to upload the pdf file to Barnes and Noble. They don’t accept pdf files.  

I tried to upload the doc file.  It was over 20 megabytes.  They don’t accept files bigger than 20 megabytes.

I tried using BN’s online book creator tool.  I got about halfway through the process and the website said I had exceeded my size allowance.  Plus, their book creator is flow style, which means that art and text are not necessarily on the same page.

In order to get Ladybugs for Loretta onto Barnes and Noble’s Nook platform, I went back to the pdf, made screen cuts, reduced their size, reduced their color density and reduced their pixel count.  Finally the file was less than 20 megabytes.  I uploaded it.

But the result is that the Nook book is lower quality than the Amazon book.

BN is already number 2 in the market.  They don’t need to be number 2 in quality as well.  I hope they figure this out soon.  I’ll be happy to upload a quality file to replace the current minimalistic one.

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