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Ebooks and Ereaders

Ebook geekery of the week: footnotes in EPUBs

So as per my last post I’ve been amusing myself with throwing together an ebook edition of The Starblade of Radmynn, one of the first two novels I ever wrote. (Specifically, the later one of that name, which was actually set chronologically earlier.) One of the things I’m doing with this file is adding footnotes to the text, calling out things like “this character is an early edition of a character that showed up later in the Rebels of Adalonia” or “this nation actually had its name changed because of X and Y” and such.

But in the course of dealing with this, I discovered to my vexation EPUB has erratic support for footnotes.

I’ve seen them in ebooks I have in my own library–the ebook edition of The Lord of the Rings, for example, is packing a whole hell of a lot of ’em. But they’re all stuck at the end of the ebook file, and you have to tap on the footnote to go to it and then try to get back to where you were previously in the text. If the ebook isn’t set up smoothly enough, this can be problematic.

EPUB3 has better support–it actually includes support for popup notes, so that if you see a footnote marker on something, you can just tap on it and a little bubble will pop up and show you the note. Then you can dismiss it.

I’ve seen contradictory references, though, as to whether the major ebook vendors are actually properly supporting this. iBooks is referenced a lot as doing so, but I’m not seeing anything definitive re: whether the Nook or Kobo does. Complicating the matter is that a) I’m also seeing data that suggests that Smashwords only supports EPUB2, and b) right now, the tool I have available to me for generating EPUBs, i.e., Calibre, doesn’t talk EPUB3 either. Calibre’s creator is on record as saying he’s not particularly interested in developing EPUB3 support, although he’s held the door open for other devs to do so.

So now, I’m thinking I need to figure out if I want to play further with EPUB3, just for the sake of teaching myself something. In which case I’ll need a tool capable of generating an EPUB3 file. And I’ll need to figure out whether it’s possible to do footnotes in a way that’s backward compatible with readers that don’t talk EPUB3. This will be interesting to explore!

I know a lot of writers swear by Scrivener, and Scrivener has EPUB support. But I’m not convinced I want to bring in a tool of its magnitude just to solve a single problem. I also know a handful of authors who use InDesign to generate their books, but again, not entirely convinced I want to jump to a tool of that magnitude. More likely, I will be investigating reports that Sigil has woken up again–it’s the EPUB editor that Calibre slurped into its own code base. And there’s an EPUB3 plugin for Sigil.

More data on this as events warrant. Any indie authors care to comment on what tools you use to build your books?


Yet more books, and also, stats in Calibre

I promise to post about something else as soon as I do this latest book roundup, I swear. 😉

Picked up in print:

  • Red Hood’s Revenge, by userinfojimhines (Jim Hines). Fantasy. The latest in his Princess series, which came out just as I was finishing book 2, and I am now working my way through this one! Score!
  • Rift in the Sky, by Julie E. Czerneda. SF. Read this as a library book when it came out, and this is me getting my paperback copy, since Ms. Czerneda remains on the Must Have in Print list!

And, picked up electronically:

  • Redemption in Indigo, by Karen Lord. Sort of fantasy/magical realism, from what I’ve been hearing from the buzz this book’s been getting lately. There’s a nice Big Idea piece about it over on John Scalzi’s blog, which is a nifty source for new books for me these days.
  • Exit Light, by Megan Hart. Urban fantasy/paranormal romance, one of my new purchases from Carina Press. DRM-free epub files FTW! This one’s featuring interactions in dreams as the paranormal aspect.
  • Song of Seduction, by Carrie Lofty. Historical romance, another Carina purchase. This one sold me for being centered around a gifted musician and the composer she adores, and I’m looking forward to reading it.
  • Fatal Affair, by Marie Force. Romantic Suspense, third Carina purchase of five. Political and suspenseful stuff set in D.C., I believe.
  • Love and Scandal, by Donna Lea Simpson. Another Carina historical romance. The schtick of this one is that the heroine’s been writing scandalous novels–but OHNOEZ, a notorious rank is being accused of writing them, and won’t believe that sweet little ol’ her is the actual author! Sounds like fun.
  • Captive Spirit, by Liz Fichera. One more Carina historical, and I’m looking at this one since it’s featuring a non-white heroine, so looking forward to that.
  • Dark and Disorderly, by Bernita Harris. Urban fantasy/paranormal romance, the last of the Carina purchases for this round.

And that’s 189!

On a related note I finally decided that I have so many ebooks that it was high time I yoinked them all into Calibre. This is a super-helpful tool, both for organizing your ebook library and for converting ebook formats (as long as they’re DRM-free). It’s also clever enough to communicate with both my Nook AND the Stanza app on my iPhone so I can do a pretty decent job of keeping track of what books I’ve got where.

It may amuse you all to know that I have a total of 426 ebooks now. Of these, 140 were acquired from various free sources: the big ebook giveaway that did when they came online, the Baen Free Library, the Suvudu Free Library, assorted authors doing promotions of their releases by giving away older releases, some acquired from Drollerie as free short pieces, and one that I won from Carina!

Of the books I bought, 63 were purchased from Barnes and Noble, 7 from Amazon, 176 from Fictionwise, 11 from Carina, and 16 from Stanza. Small presses represented in my purchases are Drollerie, Small Beer Press, Cobblestone Press, and the Book View Cafe. (Carina, being powered by Harlequin, is NOT a small press. Just so we’re clear on that!)

My next purchase is going to be userinfonaominovik‘s sixth Temeraire novel, because this is pretty much NOT OPTIONAL. But once I get that, I’m thinkin’ I’m going to take a book buying hiatus for a bit and actually READ some of these things I’ve been purchasing! Place your bets now on how long I’ll go before I buy something else!