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DrOsler
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How does a book end up as a nook book?

I hope this isn't a duplicate.  I have not found the information on the forum so far, but my track record with this forum's search engine isn't very good.

 

How does a regular dead tree book become a nook ebook?  The process presumably requires permission from somebody (publisher?  author?  both?).

My GUESS is that most dead tree books already exist in digital form at the publishing house, though I don't know if that is likely to be .pdf, .doc or some other format.

There is presumably some process that turns the publisher's digital version into whatever the nook needs for its native format(s).

 

Can anybody shed light on the process?

 

I'm particularly interested because I have noticed that a number of my nook ebook editions have rather silly spelling/grammar/syntax errors that I would not have expected in a print book.  That makes me wonder if there are some steps in the conversion process that require manual editing/formatting, though there is no obvious reason a manual process would be required.

 

Thanks.

Doug_Pardee
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

There is no single path. There are technical issues, copyright issues, contractual issues, and people issues. A (legitimate) e-book doesn't appear until all of those are dealt with.

 

And no, most older books don't exist in digital form. The final corrected master copy existed only in typeset form.

 

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TrevorS
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

I'd love to hear about the process from when a publisher says "Go for it, here's our manuscript" to Barnes and Noble, and hands them a .txt or .pdf file.

 

Seeing the steps from when B&N gets the raw data and the go-ahead nod from the publisher to when it shows up on my shopping availability list would definitely help my patience in waiting for certain books that I'm chomping at the bit to get on my nook.

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bklvr896
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

 


TrevorS wrote:

I'd love to hear about the process from when a publisher says "Go for it, here's our manuscript" to Barnes and Noble, and hands them a .txt or .pdf file.

 

Seeing the steps from when B&N gets the raw data and the go-ahead nod from the publisher to when it shows up on my shopping availability list would definitely help my patience in waiting for certain books that I'm chomping at the bit to get on my nook.


B&N or any other retailer does not get any raw data from a publisher, the publisher provides them the eBook in the correct format.  B&N only sells the eBooks provided by the publisher.  Therefore, all B&N can do is contact the publisher and request an eBook form.  As Doug said, that can take time as there may be contractual issues to be resolved.  Once all that is done, the publisher as to get an ISBN for the book (each format has its own ISBN).  Depending on all the issues involved it can take months to get an eBook, or perhaps never, if those contractual issues cannot be resolved.  Also, for older books, especially those not necessarily in digital format of some type already, the publisher has to believe there is a large enough market to warrant the expense of going through all these steps to create an eBook.

 

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DrOsler
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

@Doug_Pardee:

In this context, what does 'older' mean?  I realize that the Gutenberg Project books are not available in electronic form.  I was thinking more about books published in the last 20-30 years.  Word processing has been around longer than that, but I do not know when publishers began to adopt word processing and electronic typsetting as tools to simplify work flow.  I also realize

that use of digital technology does not mean all books from the 80s (or whenever) are still around in a digital form even if they once existed in word processors.

 

As it happens, the books I've seen with the most obvious editing/conversion problems are relatively recent.  Since I rarely have access to both printed and ebook editions I don't have any way to know if the problem was sloppy editing to begin with or sloppy conversion to ebook.

Doug_Pardee
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

Generally, we're talking 21st Century. It's going to depend on the publisher involved. Google offers a service to publishers where they can send a crate of books to Google and Google will scan them and OCR them for $25 per book. Then it's up to the publisher to proofread and correct the results. Tor (Tom Doherty/Macmillan) has been developing quite a reputation for putting out uncorrected scans with odious results.

 

For most books published in the 20th Century, there is no publication contract for e-books because e-books didn't exist back then. The publication contract for printed books may have expired, too. The author may have died, and the issue of who's in control of the copyrights may be unknown. If a book's been out of print for twenty years, it's quite possible that nobody's even thought about who owns the copyright. Copyright laws were in considerable flux during the 20th Century, and it might take a copyright lawyer just to figure out if a property is still in copyright, and in which parts of the world the copyright holds.

 

For publishing contracts made by the author from 1978 on, there's a provision in the copyright law that allows the author to cancel the publishing contract during a window between 25 and 30 years after the contract was signed, on two to ten years' notice.

 

The simplest case is when an author's publishing contracts are already expired, meaning that the publication rights have reverted to the author, the author is still alive, and there's no question about copyright ownership. Some of those authors are working their own e-book publication deals.

 

A book is more than just the author's words, too. There is cover art, there may be illustrations, epigraphs (quotes and such), jacket copy, author photos, and other material that was licensed for use in the printed book but probably wasn't licensed for e-books.

 

As to the technical process, as bklvr896 noted, B&N's just a seller. They get the fully formatted e-book file from the publisher, along with metadata (look up ONIX). The only thing they do to the e-book is add DRM when it's downloaded. Otherwise, they're just "paper-pushers" in a paperless world. They don't create the e-books any more than they create the printed books that they sell.

 

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ellsbells930
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

Random question: Do we really need cover art in our ebooks? 

 

I would think that there should be some digital format of books published in the past 25 years (at least).  I was using PCs at work almost 30 years ago & we were behind the curve.  The errors should be far less than they are in newer works. 

 

As far as getting books to ebooks.... these people need to get with the times!!!

TNS
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TNS
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?


ellsbells930 wrote:

Random question: Do we really need cover art in our ebooks? 

 

I would think that there should be some digital format of books published in the past 25 years (at least).  I was using PCs at work almost 30 years ago & we were behind the curve.  The errors should be far less than they are in newer works. 

 

As far as getting books to ebooks.... these people need to get with the times!!!


And there certainly were other digital forms being used for books even further back.  And within many publishers they started using electronic editing and typesetting.  Sometimes using specialized workstations or mainframes.

Doug_Pardee
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

[ Edited ]

ellsbells930 wrote:

 

Do we really need cover art in our ebooks? 


I think it's fairly clear that we do. There are a lot of threads here with people complaining about missing cover art, about not having cover flow in My Documents, etc. Cover art is very important to many buyers. It's also important to the sellers, because an e-book without cover art doesn't attract much attention. Check over at Smashwords and see if you think that the "no cover art" e-books are as prominent as the ones with cover art.


As far as getting books to ebooks.... these people need to get with the times!!!


Which people? There are many different roadblocks to getting a book into e-book form. There are copyrights, publication contracts, and distribution contracts to be dealt with, at the very least. These can be very thorny. William Styron (Out of Africa) filed suit in 2002 for the right to publish his works in e-book form; he died in 2006 with the suit still on-going, and this past April (after 8 years of litigation) the suit was finally settled with his heirs being given the rights to publish his work as e-books.

 

There are some authors who refuse to allow their works to be published as e-books. J. K. Rowling, Harper Lee, and Ray Bradbury are among the most famous. Now that J. D. Salinger has died, I expect to see his works start to show up in e-book once all of the legalities and contracts are squared away.

 

Google says that they've got scans of 5 million copyrighted books that they don't know who owns the rights to. They estimate that 1 million of those books don't have any surviving copyright holder. The copyright exists but it doesn't actually belong to anyone; these are sometimes called "orphan works". For the other 4 million, either it's not clear who the copyright holder is or Google doesn't know how to find them (ironic, eh?).

 

There are many other complications, often surrounding copyright law. A question for you to ponder: is Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind still copyrighted?

 

Fun with copyright law:

 

Revenge of Kali-Ra

  

This is a novel about a star movie actress who wants to create a movie series based on some old pulp novels about Kali-Ra, the Queen of Doom. She's sure the novels are in the public domain, but there are about a half-dozen other parties who believe that the novels are still in copyright and that they hold the copyright. They all converge on her Beverly Hills estate, and freaky things start happening. Someone could end up dead.

 

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SlaughterS
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

[ Edited ]

 

ellsbells930 wrote:

Random question: Do we really need cover art in our ebooks? ...


Yes - because it sells books.

 

DrOsler - The grammar errors in the ebooks you found may have come from older books.  Most older books are scanned and then have software (OCR) run over the scanned image to convert it to text.  The software has only about 95%-99% accuracy, especially of the print is small, or a little smudgy.

This is the Internet. I'm not going to let my complete lack of actual knowledge stop me from giving my opinion....
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DrOsler
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?


@Doug_Pardee:

Thanks for the information.  I'm surprised that there are so few electronic versions available for books from late 20th Century (after 1980 or so).  Oh well.

I'm not sure who the publishers are for the ebooks I have found to be so riddled with errors.  I guess I'll have to pay closer attention in the future.

 

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bklvr896
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

 


SlaughterS wrote:

 

ellsbells930 wrote:

Random question: Do we really need cover art in our ebooks? ...


Yes - because it sells books.

 

Do we need cover art if it makes the eBook more expensive because they had to negotiate a separate contract with copyright owner of the cover art?

 

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DrOsler
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

@SlaughterS:

I expect so see some typos in older books, but as noted previously:

... the books I've seen with the most obvious editing/conversion problems are relatively recent.

The worse offenders I have have encountered to date were fairly recent items that would not have been scanned as part of the conversion.  My guess is that they were badly edited to begin with, but I posed the question because I have rarely seen printed books published with numerous egregious editing problems.

Doug_Pardee
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

[ Edited ]

DrOsler wrote:

 

Thanks for the information.  I'm surprised that there are so few electronic versions available for books from late 20th Century (after 1980 or so).


Although in many cases the original document was electronic, the manuscript sent by the author was printed on paper. Prior to 2001, virtually no literary agents nor publishers would accept an electronic document. They couldn't read a Word document while commuting on the subway or train, it's much harder to catch errors when reading on a screen, it's harder to flip back and forth in an electronic document, and they couldn't write in the margins and between the lines of a Word document. Not to mention which, the publishing industry of the 20th Century was all about words on paper—it's what they lived and breathed.

 

The marked-up paper manuscript was then typed in to a typesetting machine—Linotype in the earlier days, phototypesetting later on. For this reason, until just a few years ago authors were universally told to print their manuscripts in Courier font with underlining instead of italics—it made the typesetter's job easier. As part of the typesetting process, punctuation would be changed and formatting such as hyphenation and footnotes would be applied.

 

Then galley proofs were printed, and the proofreader would mark them up and send them to the author for review of the proofs and corrections, then they'd go back to the typesetter who would make the final corrections in the typeset masters. At that point page proofs would be produced, and assuming all was well with them (which it was supposed to be), the table of contents and index could be created as needed, and all page number references in the text would be adjusted.

 

What ended up printed in the book was an edited and typeset variation of what was in the author's electronic document, and nobody but the author had that electronic document anyway.

 

Things are slowly changing. After the anthrax incidents of 2001, some agents and publishers began accepting emails, and the bolder ones even accept email attachments. With the advent of e-books, the publishers have begun to value electronic copies of their products. The word manuscript is gradually being replaced by the word file, and most literary agents are now requesting that printed manuscripts be provided in an easily read font instead of Courier and that italics be italicized instead of underlined. (With a very few exceptions, publishers no longer accept manuscripts from authors—only from agents.)

 

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mjordannm
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

Thank you Doug for a clear expatiation of the process. I never realized the paper steps that manuscripts still went through until recently in this computer age. 

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BelgianAlien
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

Isn't it also true that IF a printing house had a digital version for their presses, those files are only kept in backups for x amount of years after the print job has been completed? 

-----------
Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. ~P.J. O'Rourke
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DrOsler
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

As before, thank you for the insights.


Doug_Pardee wrote:

...  They couldn't read a Word document while commuting on the subway or train, it's much harder to catch errors when reading on a screen, it's harder to flip back and forth in an electronic document, and they couldn't write in the margins and between the lines of a Word document. 

 


 

 

Aside from the fact that laptop computers are more common these days, allowing reviewers/editors to read while commuting, all of those issues still exist and are applicable to ereaders in use today.  I enjoy my nook because it allows me to carry multiple books in a handy format, and it allows me to acquire a book without paying for a commute to the book store or incurring a shipping charge, but printed books are still easier to use in almost every way.  Printed books are also easier to share with friends. 

 

 

 

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bga_reviews
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Re: How does a book end up as a nook book?

[ Edited ]

That "Revenge of Kali-Ra" looks like a fun read and I probably wouldn't have even glanced at if it there had not been a cover, or if it had been one of those ugly generics. In this case, it looks like Hatchette released her works in ebook back around 2001, and they're still available. However, I think Hatchette's pricing her backlist ebooks too high at $10, especially when the used hardcovers are available for about a buck (I know, off topic rant, and I'll shut up now).