Category Archives: Ebooks

And Now, a Word from One of Our Clients

In a discussion over at the Libertarian Fiction Authors association, during a recent conversation about professional publishing assistance, one of our clients recently gave us a ringing endorsement. Here’s the full statement from John Brown, author of State of Terror.

Having a professional do your editing, cover, and interior design is not an option; it’s mandatory. Don’t even think about editing your own writing, even if you’re an editor by trade. And, do you have a solid background in graphical design? How about HTML? Sure, you could just hit a button and publish, but this is one of those things where just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Try to save money by doing it yourself and it will show. In traditional publishing, they do these services for you. With self-publishing, you are still expected to have a polished product. You can afford to pay for your own professional team because you’ll be getting much higher royalties. It’s an investment; you’ll get a return from higher sales and better comments. I think we owe the reading public the very best we can do. If your name is on it, then it should be of the highest quality, something in which you can take pride for many years. Otherwise, don’t bother.

Publishing is much more than just writing. It’s best to put one’s ego aside and think of the entire project as a collaboration. The writer may be the master architect, but there are builders and designers involved, and they play a critical role in execution. Much of the creative process comes from involving others and letting the project evolve in unforeseen directions. For this reason, I don’t like speed writing contests, the 50,000-words-in-50-days type of promotions. Art and craft take time.

I also believe that it’s best to hire professionals who can work together. Handoffs are to be avoided; it lessens responsibility for the final product. That’s why I went with Invisible Order. They do it all, from editing and design, to setting up ISBNs and vendor accounts. Jeffrey Tucker and Wendy McElroy went with IO, and that was good enough for me.

We’re very grateful to John and all the other authors who’ve put their trust in us over the last few years. To see a sample of our handiwork, you can buy the ebook of John’s IO-produced novel, State of Terror, on Amazon.com. We’ll be releasing the print version shortly.

State of Terror.

Click the cover to see this book on Amazon.com.

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Beyond Bitcoin

Swanson-GreatChainSmallSize-20140304Tim Swanson’s useful new guide, Great Chain of Numbers, came out this morning. In it, Swanson explores emerging developments that are taking us beyond cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin into the broader world of “smart property.”

The book is available on Tim’s website for free or on Amazon.com in a Kindle version for just 99 cents.

If you’re wondering what the heck smart property is and how it’s going to change our world, you could do worse than to start with the foreword to Swanson’s book, by Adam B. Levine: 

The physical world has an intractable problem; things exist.

Whether a bar of gold or a bus pass, left to their own devices these valuable objects will not move or act of their own accord. Furthermore, if you want to sell such an item, you have the unenviable task of finding someone who  would like that item from you, is willing to pay you in the thing you desire and is local enough to make such a deal Beyond Bitcoinlogical.

Money used to have this problem; we used antiquated systems that move promises for dollars around the world at 1960 speed. Bitcoin changed the equation, introducing the distributed ledger technology that allows value to change owner with no regard for where the transacting users are geographically located.

Bitcoin is to money what Smart Property is to ownership. A fundamental reinvention of how things should work, and a better way.  The problems are not new, and the solutions enacted to this point were designed with that liability of physical existence in mind.

We are no longer constrained by this liability.

Great Chain of Numbers, now available for free right here.

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Are We Good Enough for Liberty?

20130918_AreWeGoodEnoughforLibertyCoverWe’re delighted to reveal the ebook version of Lawrence Reed’s new Are We Good Enough for Liberty?

Download the MOBI ebook (for Kindle)
Download the EPUB ebook (for everything else)

Lawrence Reed is of course the president of the Foundation for Economic Education, the author of innumerable articles, and a very prominent speaker for radio, TV, and conferences around the world.

This beautiful book includes, not only Dr. Reed’s own writing on character and liberty, but also the famous “I, Pencil,” by Leonard Read, the founder of FEE. 

It’s available for free in ebook form here, and in PDF and print form here.

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Our Experience in Your Hands

Every time we assist you with a publishing project, you get the benefit of our experience — and complete control over your project.

Whether you’re getting our help with editing or ebook creation or print-book creation, you’re really buying 2 things.
(1) Your book the way you want it. 
(2) Our advice on what you should want.

For big issues (cover design, overall appearance, matters of content, etc.), we tend to check in with you and have a discussion about the options. In those cases, our advice comes explicitly as part of that conversation. We usually show you several different approaches, explain what we think should be done, and explain our reasoning based on our experience with print and digital writing and publishing.

For the myriad of small issues that come up in each book (comma placement, ebook file structure, exact print-book gutter margins, etc.), we generally just produce the book the way extensive experience tells us it should be — and then we ask you to review it and make sure you like what we’ve done. 
In that sense, we embed our advice in the product itself. 

Any time you wonder about (or dislike) the way we handle those small issues, we’ll be happy to separate out the advice and explain the decisions on those details. But if we explain our thinking, and it doesn’t fit with your vision, or you decide you’d like something done differently for any reason, you still get #1: your book the way you want it.

To find out how we can help with your next publishing project, just email us at invisibleorder@invisibleorder.com, or click here to use our contact form.

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State of Terror: A Novel to Add a Chill to Your Holidays

Invisible Order is excited to announce the publication of State of Terror.

John Brown’s new thriller explores what happens when the War on Terror grows into a war on all citizens.

State of Terror-Cover

In the near future, there has been a series of terrorist attacks. With the War on Terror now a global conflict, the distinction between the war front and the home front has blurred. With the Homeland at war, the old rules of law and of war no longer apply. New enemies call for new tactics. Drone and satellite surveillance, warrantless search, universal electronic monitoring, internal passports, and abusive checkpoints and strip searches have become routine in the emerging National Security State. New enabling laws authorize secret courts and indefinite detention without charge or trial.

Plunged headlong into a nightmarish world of “ghost” detainees in black-site prisons is Tom Benson, a banking executive and U.S. Army veteran. Growing distant from his wife, and with his son facing conscription, his troubles start when he is mysteriously unable to cash a check. Arrested and declared an Unlawful Enemy Combatant, he endures progressively harsher “enhanced” interrogation as he struggles to regain his freedom and strike back.

State of Terror is now available for Kindle!

(Coming soon for iBook and Nook.)

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The Real Lincoln in His Own Words

Lincoln-Uncensored-CoverThomas DiLorenzo writes today in LewRockwell.com about an “important new, must-read book,” a “great work of scholarship,” which will help Americans to wean themselves off the propaganda from “politically-correct, heavily state-censored textbooks or movies made by communistic-minded Hollywood hedonists.”

What is this book that brings such high praise?

Why, it’s Lincoln Uncensored of course, by Joseph E. Fallon. (Buy it now, complete with a new preface by Jeffrey Tucker, on Amazon.com.)

Here’s more of what DiLorenzo has to say about it:

I was taught in public elementary school in Pennsylvania that Abe was so honest that he once walked six miles to return a penny to a merchant who undercharged him (and six miles back home). He was supposedly so tendered hearted that he cried after witnessing the death of a turkey. He suffered in silence his entire life after witnessing slavery as a teenager.…

The real Lincoln was a dictator and a tyrant who shredded the Constitution, fiendishly orchestrated the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens, and did it all for the economic benefit of the special interests who funded the Republican Party (and his own political career). But don’t take Joseph Fallon’s or Thomas DiLorenzo’s word for it. Read the words of Abe Lincoln himself. That is what Fallon allows everyone to do in his great work of scholarship, Lincoln Uncensored.

We’re prouder than ever to be the producers of Joseph Fallon’s great ebook. Buy it now.

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A PDF Is Not an Ebook or The Incredible, Moveable Ebook

CeciNestPasUnEbookThere are two common misconceptions in the blogosphere these days:

  1. that a PDF is an ebook;
  2. that a PDF can seamlessly become an ebook (MOBI for Kindle or EPUB for all other eReaders).

Let’s start with the first one: a PDF is not an ebook.

You might say, “Well, when I look at a PDF on my computer, it looks exactly like a book. It has page numbers and page headings and everything. I can even read it on my iPad.”

But the fact that you can read it on your computer or your tablet does not make it an ebook. It does indeed look like a print book. And that’s where the problem lies.

How an Ebook Redefines Moveable Type

An ebook is a text that can adjust itself to the device you use to read it and to settings you choose.

A PDF (Portable Document Format) cannot adjust itself. It is an image of a document that is always meant to look the same — the page always starts with a certain word and ends with a certain word. It has a hidden layer of code speaking to the electronic PDF reader and telling it how to display a static page — imagine an invisible grid with horizontal and vertical coordinates to place each element in a precise location.

These hidden instructions are why a PDF is not an ebook and why a PDF cannot be seamlessly changed into either of the standard ebook formats: MOBI and EPUB.

Ebooks are about flexibility — about reflow. An ebook morphs depending on what your settings are and what device you are reading on. You can change the font size, read a book in one-column view or in two columns, read the same copy of the book on your iPhone, iPad, computer, or even on your Kindle. The book needs to adapt easily to each of those devices and to how you want to read it.

When we make an ebook, we work on creating something that resembles a print book but that is malleable, transforming itself to meet the needs of the reader and the reading device.

We have to think about all the different platforms that people read on (Kindle, Nook, iBook, etc.) and the different ways readers customize their screens. I know people, for example, who have failing eyesight and who thought they would have to give up reading. Ebooks — true ebooks! — have changed their lives, because they can make the font as big as they need or even adjust the text color and contrast.

But what happens when you enlarge the font on a PDF? You can’t: you just enlarge the PDF and if you enlarge it too much, you can’t see the whole page on your screen.

You may want to say, “Well, yes, that’s true. But if I want to play with font size and read a PDF on a Kindle, I can put it through a free converter that will make an ebook for Kindle.” (I have in fact seen this as part of the sales pitch on websites selling PDFs as “ebooks.”)

That is indeed true and, occasionally, it might turn out all right. But usually it needs some help. And often a lot of help.

Why a PDF Can’t Magically Become an Ebook

This brings us to point number 2. Remember: the PDF has a hidden layer of information that gives precise instructions on how to make a page look like the printed page of the book. These instructions are useless for the eReaders because an eReader does not want to make a static page.

In fact, the program you use to make an ebook out of a PDF will not know what to do with most of those instructions. Computer programs are useful tools, but it is very hard to create one that can catch all the complexities involved in translating a PDF into an ebook.

Here are some examples of conversion oddities that we regularly encounter.

(1) Mysterious Text

The other day I started creating an ebook out of a PDF. I had put my document through the first step of the process and was going through the text to see just how much needed to be fixed when I came upon what seemed to be a random list of geographical places:

English Channel

England

France

Spain

Atlantic

Mediterranean

Africa

Having no idea why the list was where it was, I looked at the PDF as a reference. It turns out that the list had originally been words labeling different parts of a map. The PDF maker had layered the names of places on top of the image of a map. When I extracted the text from the PDF to create the ebook (and thus temporarily removed images), the names that had been layered onto the map were left all on their lonesome, referring to nothing and not knowing how to position themselves on the screen.

(2) The Ebook vs. the Typesetter

Think about what typesetters do: they do not let words fall randomly on a page to create a book. They are, after all, setting the type. Typesetters have to think about things like widows (the last word or last few words of a paragraph printed alone at the beginning of a new page or column) and orphans (the first line of a paragraph starting at the very end of a page or column), and when they are confronted with widows and orphans, they manipulate the page to get rid of them. And this becomes part of the PDF’s code.

When translated into ebooks, the mechanisms used to avoid widows and orphans turn into strange spaces between paragraphs or into paragraphs that start on the same line the previous paragraph ended:

Be good enough, honourable deputies, to take our request seriously, and do not reject it without at least hearing the reasons that we have to advance in its support.                                                                                     First, if you shut off as much as possible all access to natural light, and thereby create a need for artificial light, what industry in France will not ultimately be encouraged?

(3) Ran-dom Hyphens

Ever read an ebook and found a word with a ran-dom hyphen in the middle? It’s not just a typo.

Sometimes a word at the end of a line of text is too long and is continued on the next line. To let you know that the word is interrupted, the typesetter (or word processor) adds a soft hyphen at the end of the line — or sometimes the typesetter (or program) makes a mistake and adds a regular (hard) hyphen instead.

A soft hyphen is meant to stay in a word only if it is interrupted at the end of a line. Systems converting PDFs into ebooks don’t always know what to do with these and will often just turn them into hard hyphens. Thus, even if the word is not shared between two lines, it still has a hyphen in it.

For more on the when and why of ligatures, check out I Love Typography's "The Decline and fall of the ligature."

For more on the when and why of ligatures, check out I Love Typography’s “The Decline and fall of the ligature.”

 

(4) Ligatures

Printed books and their PDFs often have something called ligatures. A ligature is actually a combination of two letters that would otherwise look awkward next to each other. For example, f and i are often slurred together to avoid the awkward juxtaposition of the tip of the f and the dot of the i.

But an ebook converter won’t necessarily know what to do with ligatures and instead you’ll get a hyphen in the middle of a word, or a strange vertical line, or even a question mark to replace the ligature that once represented two letters.

These are only a few examples of why many ebook makers prefer to manually go through a text that is being converted from PDF to ebook: there are too many little details for a converting program to catch, and so the human eye is still vital in the process.

Think about how far we are from Gutenberg’s moveable type: a PDF may remind us of the beautiful, static pages Gutenberg offered the Western world, but the ebook redefines the notion of “moveable” type — with a well-made ebook (and often “handmade” ebook), each reader can move the type to create his own version of the text.

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