What ebook production problems are self-publishers facing?

Driven by curiosity (as always), I’ve just spend a large part of my lunch break browsing through various forums[1], trying to get a handle on what problems self-publishers are facing when they are creating their ebooks.

My impression is that, unlike what I expected from the work and challenges I face making ebooks for a traditional publisher, styling and formatting isn’t a major issue—formatting problems seem limited to edge cases. I’m assuming this is because most self-publishers are doing novels with very simple style needs.

The problems people seem to be facing, in no particular order:

Amazon's biggest ally is Apple

I’ve never understood why people position Apple and Amazon as rivals in the ebook game. While it’s true that the two have clashed that conflict is a result of incompatible platform goals, not rivalry. Conflict is not rivalry and two organisations that conflict occasionally may well be allies in the bigger picture where rivals may not. Let me elucidate… The Apple/Amazon conflict has presented itself in a variety of ways:

Readmill versus Kindle – Readmill is worth the hassle

Last week I decided to reread a couple of books in Readmill that I had previously read in the iOS Kindle app. Let’s see how the two compare. Kindle for iOS It’s a turd. There’s no way to express just how awful that app is while still couching your annoyance in polite language. It’s not awful. It’s fucking awful. Of course, some of the annoyance stems from general Kindle awfulness such as frequent bugs in how the platform does sharing and general disregard for basic typography.

If the Kindle fails so will ebooks

I don’t get why anti-Amazon people get up in arms whenever they find an author who links to the Amazon pages for their books. Or whenever a publisher out there seems to favour the Seattle Behemoth over the ‘honourable’ opposition. I get why people don’t like Amazon. They are a big, competitive, ruthless, anti-union tax avoider that treats low level staff (like, say, warehouse employees) like slave labour. There’s a lot not to like.

Free Kindle version

Giving away the first book in a series is a good idea, right? Right? One fun fact people tend to forget is that Amazon puts a price floor on all self-published ebooks: they can’t cost less than $0.99 unless they come from a distributor (like Smashwords) or are being price matched with other retailers that do allow free books. Of course, I’d hoped that Amazon would have match the price of the Kobo and iBooks editions by now, but since they haven’t I’m going to post free mobi versions of the first book here.

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