Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Brother, Can You Spare A Domain?

By:  Kimberly Hitchens is the founder and owner of Booknook.biz, an ebook production company that has produced more than 2,000 books for over 1000 authors and imprints.

I've titled this week's blog post as I did simply because I couldn't think of a better title, for a blog with several topics.  Once more, into the breach...I apologize in advance for the length, but, hey, I couldn't let our Besties with LCC nominations go unmentioned!

Left Coast Crime Nominations

First, for anyone reading this who is attending LCC, and isn't his- or herself nominated, I'd like to put in a good word for two of our clients who are nominated; client Nancy G. West, for a Lefty, (best humorous mystery novel) for her novel, "Fit To Be Dead," books produced by (wait for it), the Oompa-Loompas at Booknook.biz; and in the Watson category, (best sidekick) Booknook.biz client Chris Grabenstein, for one of his always fabulous Ceepak Mysteries, "Fun House," which was published by Putnam.  I was momentarily torn, with Chris' nomination for sidekick Danny Boyle, because I'm a diehard Robert Crais fan (the Cole and Pike series), and he's up for a Watson (best sidekick) also, but at the end, customer loyalty won out, and if I were going, I'd be casting my vote for Chris.  (If you've never read the Ceepak mysteries, you've missed out!).  I mean, after all, he was discovered by no one less than James Patterson, himself, so...give it a whirl. Those of us at Booknook.biz weren't surprised by Nancy's nomination, and you can bet we're thrilled for her.

Domain Buying and Selling

This is simply a rant, but I can't take it out now, because...well, hell, the post is already titled. Whatever happened to the idea of coming up with a domain name, and simply buying it?  I am one of the biggest supporters of laissez-faire capitalism in the world, but enough is enough.  Trying to come up with, and buy, a new domain name is like sitting down at the damn poker table. So many Internet hosting companies and "Inter-preneurs" have bought and parked so many domains that those with a name you can actually pronounce are literally as scant on the ground as hen's teeth.

Recently, I received an email from some yahoo (no pun intended) who wanted  to sell me "Booknook.net" for --wait for it--slightly under $6,000.00. Yes, Six Thousand US Dollars. Are they high?  They must have me confused with our best-selling client Jackie Collins, if they think I can pop Six Thou for a domain name.  I have no idea what the ".com" version would go for, but that's ridiculous.  And it's not like they're selling a business--it's simply a NAME.  The whole internet domain name scam is simply nauseating.  The worst part are the "Inter-preneuers" who used little programs to come up with every word combination possible, and bought domain names in bulk...so perfectly usable, suitable domains sit idle, doing absolutely nothing, to be redundant, while entrepreneurs sit around scratching their heads and their nethers, trying to think of made-up words that "sound cool."  It's a ridiculous situation. 

The 20lb. Problem, or Why 16" Tall Books Are Not Suited for Ebookery

I suspect that this is "part 1" of a longer post, but you may recall I wrote about children's books, some months back, and mentioned that the physical size of the original book (or layout) might dictate whether or not the book could be done in what's called "fixed format," the type of book you can see samples of, on this page:  http://www.booknook.biz/bk_services/gallery/kids_books.  I mentioned, I think, that when a page is too large, no matter what you do, it's not possible to "cram" that content into a screen that will fit on a small e-reader.  However, it occurred to me that most people don't realize that this is true for any type of book; a "coffee table" book, an illustrated how-to book, DIY books, health books, stock-trading books, etc.  There seems to be a general misunderstanding that all e-readers have pan and scan, and that everything can somehow, magically fit into the container that is an e-reader screen, like a big-ass genie in a teeny-weeny lamp. Sadly, just like a genie, that magic does not exist.  (Sorry, Drew:  I hated to be the one to tell you, but, no:  There is No Jeannie in that Bottle.)

Internally, we call this the "20lb. Problem," which is essentially, trying to stuff 20lbs. of material into a 5lb. sack.  Just today, I had an email from a prospective client with a book that I suspect he made in Mac iAuthor, which has a mind-numbingly bloated drag-and-drop interface for making ebooks that will solely (of course) work on the iBooks platform.  The iBooks book had hundreds of images, nearly 50 videos, audio, and so on, that he wanted "converted" into a Kindle book--and the book was 1.5 gigabytes.  Yes:  gigabytes.  I explained some of the basics--you can't include video, or audio, and if the content, sans video and audio, was more than 50MB, ( Amazon's limit), there would be nothing we could do, without making substantial inroads into the image sizes, compression, and the like.  This case is a bit unusual, but, read on. 

Now, the usual inquiry we get for unsuitable books are for those created with charts, graphs, tables, etc., that just won't be readable when reduced to the size of a Kindle screen.  I have no doubt that there are plenty of conversion houses out there that will just take someone's money and give them back a book that will provide a lousy user experience, but we try to explain the "whys" and hope that the client doesn't get rooked by someone less scrupulous.  But here's the gist, and use it when you look at your book, to think about conversion:

A Kindle screen is precisely 3½"x4¾" in size, with a ¼" margin all-round.  A book that is laid out and created at 8½" x 11", has 93.5 square inches of space.  A Kindle/Nook screen, by comparison, has a mere 16.62 square inches.  This means that an e-reader screen has only 17.78% of the space of the typical PDF or default Word page layout.
Thus, should you decide to create a "how-to" book, a book with graphics, a book with charts, tables, images with text atop them, or any type of graphic explanatory element, keep this in mind.  To see what your "element" will really look like on a Kindle, output your Word file to PDF; then shrink that PDF down to 33% of the original (8½" x 11") size.  What you see is what that "page" and that element will really look like on a Kindle e-reader. 

That was today's tip!  Remember: eBooks aren't magic lamps, and you can't fit a big-ass genie in there.  When you think about your content, consider alternative ways of creating and displaying chart or tabular data.  You and your reader will be happier for it.



  1. Always interesting! I get those domain name emails too, and I'm with you, it's a ridiculous situation.

    I'm so glad my books are all text (except the map), and I don't have to worry about these issues. But I appreciate the information because I field questions from authors every day.

  2. Hitch, you are the expert! I have a question for you. My book trailer is in an ebook. How did that happen? (It's an anthology and I had nothing to do with putting it together, but was really thrilled to see my book trailer on my Kindle Fire.)

    1. I'm replying to myself… I checked and it's actually a LINK to my trailer.

    2. Hi, Peg! Sorry to be so dilatory, I suck! We've been swamped with big books this week (the irony) so I haven't had a chance to check back in. Yes, in Kindle, the greatest likelihood is that it's a link TO a trailer, although publishers like Random House can actually include a trailer. However, this cannot be done via the KDP upload mechanism. Moreover--don't forget those DELIVERY FEES at Amazon! Never include a "real" video if you don't have to. At $0.15/mb, per sale, that would add up to a huge dent in your pocketbook pretty darned quickly.--Hitch

  3. Peg, don't we usually hitch a trailer? (Especially considering who's post this is.:)
    Hitch, I love the phrase "big ass genie." There's got to be a way to work that into a story or something.

    The domain name scam has been going on for a long time, unfortunately.

    Best of luck to all who are up for an LCC, where you don't need to be an LLC to win.

  4. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, bad pun alert! (And I thought I was the queen o'bad puns). I'll keep the "big ass genie" idea in mind, for a novel I have spinning around in my head, but may never make it out the tips of my fingers. Thanks.

    Yes, the domain name thing is just infuriating.

    And I'm keeping my fingers crossed for both Nancy and Chris. I haven't read Nancy's competition, but, man, going up against Pike and Cole has to be a tough uphill road. I love Chris' books as much, but let's face it, Crais' Cole and Pike really picked up the baton dropped by Parker when the Spenser series' trolley left the tracks. (Am I the only person who kept hoping that Susan Silverman would just DIE???). I mean, there's clearly no doubt that Crais was inspired by Spenser and Hawk, but he's taken that inspiration and made it his own. Chris' Boyle, however, is a different TYPE of sidekick, and I hope he nails it! And you, too, Nancy--good luck to you both.

    And I'm proud of you, LCC, when I see "Createspace" as the publisher for a nominee. Good on ya!


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