Friday, September 30, 2016

Book Bearing Fruit

If the only thing keeping you from reading The Three Towers of Afranor has been the fact that you absolutely had to read it on an Apple iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), then I have great news for you!

My second novel is now available in digital form on Apple’s iBooks Store. If happen to be reading this with an iOS device, then you can find it online, read a sample and/or purchase the whole book by clicking on this here link right here. There is also a link over on the right side of this page, if you prefer to click over there for some reason.

And my first book Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead continues to be on sale on the iBooks Store. There is still a link for that over in the right-hand column. Or you can click here on this string of words, if that is easier for you.

I should note that the links on this page are for the iBooks Store for the United States. If your iTunes account is for a different country, hopefully the app on your device will forward you to the right place without too much fuss. If not, just do a search on the titles. Both titles are pretty unique search-wise. Since the books are on sale in iBooks Stores for 51 different countries, so it would be a bit unwieldy to try to list all of them for you.

You might wonder why The Three Towers of Afranor is only now showing up in the iBooks Store when it has been available on Amazon, B&N Nook, Google Play and Kobo for well over three months. Well, that is quite a story—if you want to stick around and read it.

A lot of authors use aggregators (third-party businesses) to get their digital books to the various online sellers. I don’t. I prefer to upload them myself. On the whole, this is surprisingly easy—at least compared to the writing, editing, formatting and press prep that has to be done before you get to that point. Once you have all your work done, you just go to a web site and click a few buttons and fill in a bit of information and—presto—your e-book is magically published. The exception is the iBooks Store. You cannot upload your book to Apple via your browser. You have to use an app called iTunes Producer, which is available only for Mac computers. I don’t happen to have a Mac, and it’s not really worth it to me to buy one just to upload a few files every year or two or whenever I have a new book. My neighbor Brendan, who does have a Mac, bailed me out with Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead, which was really nice of him, but it wasn’t exactly ideal. I don’t want to have to bother him every time I need to make a correction or an update.

Then recently I discovered that there is another tool for uploading files to iBooks. It can be run on non-Apple computers but only by using a command line console. (Kids, ask your grandparents about MS-DOS.) This was good news because command line stuff is not a problem for someone like me who cut his teeth on UNIX in the 1980s. It did, however, require that I install Java, a programming language that I had banished from my computer sometime ago. Not only that, but it had to be an outdated version of Java, which meant registering as a software developer with Oracle to be able to download the old Java. Then followed a whole lot of trial and error since the available documentation was not the most user-friendly. Particularly tricky was creating an XML (Extensible Markup Language) file with all the book’s info, including some things I hadn’t heard about in decades, like checksums.

To make a long story slightly less long, I eventually figured it all out and got The Three Towers of Afranor uploaded successfully and on sale in 51 countries. And, if I need to make any changes or updates (or if I ever finish another book), I am all set up to handle them from my very own laptop. For me this is huge.

So if you have any interest in reading my humble little book on your iPhone or your iPad, I heartily encourage you to go to the iBooks Store right now and download it. And tell all your iOS-using friends to go download it too. Don’t just do it for me. Do it for Tim Cook and the gang at Apple. They need the money. As you may have heard, they have a pretty hefty back tax bill to pay to Ireland.

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