Tag Archives: kindle

Where eBooks are Going—Pop-ups in EPUB 3

This isn’t about whether or not we’re going to have or how often we’re going to be reading eBooks in the next few years, because I assume that’s been thoroughly answered to everyone’s satisfaction.

This is a little view into what they may look like in the next few years, focusing on one cool feature: pop-up glossary or footnote data inside your books. Before you run off saying this isn’t for fiction, think about how often you’ve been in the middle of a complex SF or fantasy novel and wished for a f**king character list—especially when half the character names seem to start with the letter K!  (Yes, that’s an actual quote from a reader). With science fiction you’re dealing with advanced technology that may require a little optional background info—selectable or ignored at the reader’s choice. Choice is always good, but clarity and one click away from answers is…priceless.

Let me walk you through it and then you decide if this is for you and your books.
I’m going to begin with the end and show you what it looks like first, along with a sample chapter you can read and use in iBooks to see what’s going on.

Right after this part, because this is where I spent a good deal of time. And because I think it’s cool:


I built a prototype web app that automates adding the pop-ups to your EPUBs. The app takes an EPUB page (good old HTML with some new bits in it), lets you add descriptions for characters, places, events, and then adds the code, references, and pop-up functions into the page. If all goes well you should be able to drop this into your ePub file and load it up in a reader that supports the type:epub attribute (e.g., iBooks 2.0 and higher). Screenshots and a link to the builder below.

Back to the beginning. Here’s what the pop-up glossary info looks like in iBooks—which currently supports this portion of the EPUB 3 spec:


Click for the full view: 


Example1

Click for the full view:


Example2
Example3

Here’s the working example of Seaborn I built with the web app I made. Download it and view it in iBooks or other EPUB 3 reader, or just hit this page with your iPad and click the link.  You should get an “Open in iBooks” dialog and then you’re set. 

Download Example: SEABORN EPUB WITH POP-UPs

Here’s the link andbelow ita walk-through of the app that I made to generate the EPUB with pop-ups.
Pop-up Glossary Builder app

 

Example4

You get to the next page, which looks like this:


Example6

When you get to the bottom of the page…


Example7

 

Keep in mind that this is pretty experimental right now. The parser for the nouns and phrases is very simple, and the find/replace operations don’t take into account words or phrases inside other words and phrasesso a link for “Atlantic” will also be dropped into the link for “Atlantic Ocean”.

Another thing: you will probably have to update your XML Namespace to point here: http://www.idpf.org/2007/ops

What this means is that at the top of your EPUB file you’ll see something like this: 

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″ ?>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN”
“http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11/DTD/xhtml11.dtd”>
<html xmlns=”http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml”>

Change the part that says xmlns: … to this:

xmlns:epub=”http://www.idpf.org/2007/ops”

Link structure

To make pop-up links in your EPUB files here’s what you do:

Wrap any words or phrases you want to explain in an anchor tag with epub:type=”noteref” with the href pointing to an in-document location, like this:

<a epub:type=”noteref” href=”#prax”>Prax</a>

Then, at the bottom of the page (I put mine right before the end body tag </body>) add an HTML5 <aside> tag, which supporting readers/browsers won’t show with the page.  This is where you stick your pop-up text and images:

<aside epub:type=”footnote” id=”prax”><p> <img src=”../Images/person.png” /> Praxinos (Prahx-ee-nos) was the third Wreath-wearer, King of the Seaborn, from House Alkimides. Kassandra calls him “Prax” for short.</p></aside>

Okay, that’s it for now. Let me know if you find any of this useful, how it can work better, all that stuff.  Leave a comment!

Big thank you to Liz Castro for her post on pop-ups in EPUB 3 at Pigs, Gourds, and Wikis.

Other things I was thinking about: EPUB is broken up into one file per chapter, section, or some kind of logical text break. So, you can have different text for the same word or phrase in different chapters, which allows you to reveal just enough info about a character without revealing too much and spoiling the plot or suspense. Also, wouldn’t it be nice at some point if you could turn links on or off?

 

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Category: Books, ebook, ePub, EPUB 3 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Writer Tools


WritingIf you’re writing short stories or books—and let’s face it,
who’s not?—I have a few tools for you, character name generators (contemporary
and Seaborn names) and a word pair list generator, all of which I use for my
own work.   One of the greatest things
about fantasy and science fiction as a genre is that so many F&SF readers
are also writers.  I don't think you'll find that in
thrillers, murder mysteries, romance, or anywhere else.

The contemporary name generator lets you create a list of male or
female names.  Same goes for the Seaborn Name generators, except that they're all ancient Greek names, male and female.

The word pair list is a way to spark ideas. Sometimes when
I'm stuck in a plot I will pull random words out of the dictionary–usually
nouns–and play with the ideas, see how the story would change if I introduced
poison, or make one of the characters a really good cook, or take a word like
"chronograph" and it makes me wonder what would happen to the plot if
there was a "ticking clock"–a count-down timer on a bomb, or the bad
guys are going to kill someone at a particular time and the protagonist has to
do something extraordinary in order to prevent it. The words are there to feed
the story with new and unexpected ideas. 
It's not quite the same, but think of it as something like Brian Eno's
Oblique Strategies, except for writing instead of music. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oblique_Strategies.
There was a cool "Oblique Strategies for Authors" panel at the last Readercon
led by Glenn Grant with panelists Gavin Grant, Eric Van, Jo Walton, and others).

 

Check it all out here:

Writer Tools

 

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Drawing…

I'm planning to wrap up things tomorrow for the Boskone Art Show next weekend (Boskone 49, February 17-19, 2012, Boston Westin Waterfront), and when I do I will post my layout with the pieces that will be on the wall.  My theme this year is smaller works–so this one won't be in the show, but I had prints made of a couple cropped sections of "Seaborn Battle" and those will be in the show.

 

Art-DISP

SeabornBattle25-540w

SeabornBattleCrop1

 

Lost Dogs and Fireplace Archaeology

Amazon.com | Amazon.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr   

 

Originally published in Fantasy Magazine, June 2010, Lost Dogs and Fireplace Archaeology is about the children of the men and women in the US Army who grow up going to ten different schools, who lose and find friends at every post, and the pieces of themselves they leave behind every time they move.

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Nanowhere is back!

The second edition of my tech thriller Nanowhere is out, although the official release–in print–won't be until next month or early 2012.  The ebook's available right now at Amazon and B&N on the Kindle, Fire, Nook, and any device with the Kindle or nook apps.  (More eBook formats and channels to follow).

This edition has a bunch of edits over the original version, which came out in 2005, and includes two of the research reports by the character John Andreden at the back of the book.

The eBook cover is on the left and the print book is below.

Here's some of the back cover copy:

Nanowhere… it's a love story with all the usual elements: rogue soldiers, computer hacking, tyranny, cryptography, hit-men with an affinity for rolled adhesives, rebellious skateboarders, and sentient billion-node self-organizing nanotech ghosts.

Here's a clip of Cory Doctorow's kind words on Boing Boing:

Chris Howard has released an…interesting and well-written…sf thriller called Nanowhere along with a bunch of supplementary materials that purports to be the lab notes and publications of one of the book's characters …

 

Amazon.com | Amazon.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr
Barnes & Noble


Nanowhere book cover art

WINTERDIM

My novel Winterdim is now available in ebook and very soon in print.  It hasn't shown up everywhere yet, but I see it at Amazon and B&N.  In the iBookstore I think it will get a release date of 11-11-11, which is cool.

Winterdim @ Amazon

Winterdim @ Barnes & Noble


Front cover below, text from the back cover:

Theodora Viran has a way with forests, blossoms, creeping vines, composting, paranoia, and sudden death.  She sees deception in every shadow, a trap in every word, and the universe has always been someone else's  manipulative game,  but when she makes a promise to save the life of a childhood friend,  it becomes a promise she cannot break without breaking her view of the world.


I just found this link on Guy Kawasaki's G+ stream.  Everything you need to know about starting and operating a street food business in NYC, and I was thinking there's no end to the stories that can come out of being a street vendor in the City. Meeting hundreds of people every day, some of them regulars. The protag—the owner of the food truck or pushcart–can be a retired private investigator, an alien, a vampire, an impatient classically trained chef with a love for yakitori. Think what you can do with humor, information gathering, a front for crime or the CIA, horror–a street food vendor on Sept. 11.  What if we turn this vampire/undead thing on its head and suddenly every book and magazine publisher is getting dozens of stories centered on the street food business in NYC?  That would be worth writing and submitting a couple stories itself.

Who's with me?

Start here:
http://newyorkstreetfood.com/10085/the-basics-of-starting-a-street-food-business/

Go write something!

233 pages of Saltwater Witch are back up

With updated pages! I put these back up last night but forgot to tell anyone. I haven't put up the new pages I'm working on–the rest of chapter 12, but you should notice some updates through the first couple chapters.  I'm still a bit embarrassed about a lot of the art and lettering in chapters 2 through 8, and I'm working on new panels for 12, and redrawing existing pages as I get time.

See Saltwater Witch chapters 1 – 11 + the first page of chapter 12 here.

Here's a new page from chapter 2 followed by the old page–I just realized Kassandra is pointing the wrong way in the old page.  The windows should be to her right:

SWitch-Page-24-540px

SWitch-Page-24-OLD-540px

TELLER Final Cover Design

Sorry for the number of posts and subtle variations on this one. I think this is it!  The book launch is on schedule for the end of the month.  Stay tuned!

TELLERBookCover-Titles

One of several pieces of book cover art I’m drawing

CHRISHOWARD-COVERART-TELLER-DISP