Tuesday, 13 May 2008

E-book Editing & Production Software (Updated)


Digital security online is such a complex issue one can become lost in technicalities and jargon. This appears to be causing unnecessary delays for readers and new e-publishers. So here's my jargonbuster to cut through the fug.

As an avid reader myself, I'm on the side of readers and wish to deliver original, exciting stories that allow my readership full access to quality, illustrated ebooks. One they can print out as many times as they wish for private use, give to whomever they wish, or even sell (once) to whomever they wish. (Just like they could a paper or hardback).

Research indicates readers can experience the following ebook problems:

- Incorrect ebook deactivations - Solutions Page
- Slowloading PDF files - Solutions Page
- Incorrect "reader version" - Solutions Page
- Poor print/font quality - Solutions Page

I'm working on solutions for each of the above errors; with a view to producing better ebooks. Each solution is tested and updates posted here for my readers benefit.

PDF ebooks can only be effective when tested and optimised rigourously. One could use the beta-testing, or prototype analogy here. Because the key to understanding ebook technology is when one realises a software document is being distributed. One that must be well-engineered to ensure reader satisfaction.

Acrobat Standard Edition 9 (Adobe's latest PDF Editing Suite):

Here's my quickview guide to system requirements for Adobe Acrobat 8/9. To summarise: Adobe Acrobat Standard 6 worked with Windows 98 SE & ME. Adobe Acrobat 6 Professional and all later versions only work with later Microsoft operating systems. (Effectively XP, 2000 and Vista).

Writer's Note: A quality DVD/CDROM "Writer Drive" should be fitted into your PC when working on Ebook Projects. Ensures valuable manuscripts and finished ebook files are backed-up before distribution to a wide audience.

Alternative PDF Editing Suites:

There are two categories: Free / Commerical.

Nuance PDF Create! (Versions 4 & 5) (Commercial)

Offers 128bit digital encryption. If, like me, you're wondering what "128bit encryption" is and how it applies to PDF documents here's my quickview guide.

Since Adobe Acrobat 8 Standard retails at over £200 (at time of writing) Nuance PDF Create! offers an entry-level tool for eBook authors on tight budgets.

PDF reDirect (Free Version) (Pro Version is commerical)

Well-recieved PDF File Creator compatible with Windows 98 SE and later operating systems. At CNET's well-established website, this software receives a four-star rating, positive user reviews and over 740,000 downloads. In addition, the developers have a useful forum where issues and questions can be discussed with a view to resolution. (A real benefit to new e-publishers).

Note: Free Version only supports 40bit encryption/Pro Version supports 128bit.

Read in Microsoft Reader Add-in (Free)

An awkwardly-phrased tool that is, in fact, a software "add-in" for Microsoft Word 2002/3 that allows LIT ebook creation. ("Doc" files become "LIT" files using this software. LIT files can then be distributed and viewed by Microsoft Reader (Microsoft's alternative to Adobe Reader).

Microsoft's Ebook Security Tool (Free)

This software appears to be the application that applies DRM security to LIT ebooks. Microsoft have a licencing agreement for commerical use of this product. I will research this further and post my findings. Non-commerical use can remain unlicensed. I describe detailed LIT ebook security levels in my jargonbuster.

PDFCreator (Free)

A wonderful PDF Maker thats "open source" (Meaning anyone can develop and enhance the software). Supports all operating systems from Windows 98 to XP. Has a useful forum for users.
Does not appear to edit PDF files, but includes wonderful features like 128bit encryption, compression and permission-setting to protect author content.


The primary focus of ebook creation products is how securely ebooks made with these can be distributed without interfering with reader satisfaction. My researches suggest each product must be tested. The key to reader satisfaction is how a produced ebook will function well on the wide range of computing equipment in use today.

With this in mind, I will begin a Test Plan with MS Word 2002 using Reader Add-in and PDFCreator in an effort to create a quality ebook in both LIT & PDF formats.

Revised: June 19th, 2008