Fun at Holiday World

Yesterday our family went to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana, for a day of family fun. The weather was absolutely perfect. We had tried to assemble a group to go with, but weren’t successful. (Last year we had a group of 30+ so go figure!) We went all around the park trying to take in all possible rides and then told the kids they could go back to whatever they liked the best. Hot favorites were the Raging Rapids (which Lydia insisted on calling the Raging Rabbits), the Frightful Falls, the Bumper Cars (Alan), and the Carousel. We arrived before they opened and left at closing time, so I’d say we got our money’s worth. The kids had the time of their lives. Angela and I had both gone with the determination that this was going to be all about the kids, not us. I don’t remember one cross word between any of us. It was certainly a day to remember. Check out the pics with this post.

Prayer Meeting

Last night was my turn to take Wednesday night prayer meeting. The crowd was at an all time low due to so many being out at camp meetings, etc. but nevertheless we had a good time. My topic was “Loving God with All Your Mind” (click on that title to read the full text). I had originally thought about finishing what I started in my last year’s talk, which was about the Lord’s Supper, but decided against it. Then I toyed with talking about Repentance. I really wonder if we don’t have a very shallow idea of repentance these days. I began reading several books on the subject, but the more I read and researched, the more the topic seemed to wither away on me. Then somehow I stumbled on to this idea of loving God with all our minds, and the more I thought about it and studied into it, the more it came alive. I read through the whole of J. P. Moreland’s book, Love Your God With All Your Mind and scanned Gene Edward Veith’s Loving God With All Your Mind. I wished I had more time for Veith’s book but I discovered it too late. Anyway, my turn at prayer meeting is over for another year!

Submitting books to the iBookstore

On May 27th I read on MacNN.com that Apple were allowing smaller, independent publishers to submit their books to the iBookstore. I followed the provided link and was soon giving Apple all kinds of personal and financial information like my social security number, bank account number, and other stuff they claimed they needed in order for me to sell books on the iBookstore. I had to agree to all kinds of terms and conditions. I had to prove I was an existing publisher and submit example ISBNs.

Finally, everything was complete, and I was informed that it could take anything from several weeks to several months to be approved as an iTunes content provider. As it turned out, I waited all of five minutes, and received an email telling me I’d been accepted and that I could now sign a contract, download the iTunes Producer software, and start preparing my titles for submission to the iBookstore.

I have to say that the process of actually preparing the books for the iBookstore was fairly smooth because in the case of Pastoral Letters I already had a suitable ePUB file due to my submission to the Kindle Store. And that experience helped me greatly in preparing The Way of the Cross for iBooks.

iTunes Producer is a typical piece of Apple software. It guides you through the process of preparing your title for submission. The only problem I had at this point was that the filename for my The Way of the Cross ePUB had a period in it and this is not allowed. However, I didn’t learn this through a nice, informative error message. I just got a very vague message saying my book couldn’t be submitted and asking me if I wanted to submit an error report to Apple. Well yes, of course I did. How else was I going to know what the problem was? After submitting the error report three times (for good measure), I decided to read it, and figured out that the extra period in the filename was what it was hollering about. I took that out, resubmitted, and the book was accepted. Or was it?

Apparently not. I waited a while to see if the books would just show up in the iBookstore on my iPad. They didn’t. I logged into my iTunesConnect account and clicked on “Manage Your Books” and it said “You have no books to manage.” Really? I thought you told me I successfully submitted two titles?

Waiting still didn’t get me anywhere, so I wrote to iBookstore support. I got a very brief reply from one of their techs saying that there was a file in the ePUB archives that was not listed in the ePUB manifest. Hmmm. Well I’m sure glad the iTunes Producer told me that! Turns out that only Pastoral Letters had the offending extra file. I removed it, resubmitted the book, and it’s now showing up in my iTunesConnect account as “Pending.” The Way of the Cross is still missing in action though. I’ve written to iBookstore support twice to ask them why. So far I’ve heard nothing.

So, either the folks at Apple are having problems with the iBookstore or they are being overwhelmed with submissions now that they’ve opened it to more publishers. We’ll just have to wait and see.

eBook Progress

I’m pretty sure that when Steve Jobs announced earlier this year that Apple’s iBooks application for the (then) upcoming iPad would use the ePUB format I’d never heard of it before. eBooks I had purchased up to that time were usually in .prc or Kindle format (.mobi).

For months now whenever I have logged into my Amazon Advantage account (I sell books through Amazon.com and they keep a small inventory of each title) I’ve been reminded that I should be making all my published titles available to the multitudes of folks who are reading books on their Kindles. So I finally gave in and started looking into it. Come to find out that one of the best ways to get books onto the Kindle platform if you are using InDesign CS4 (I am) is to export the publication to ePUB first, and then use a program called Calibre to convert to .mobi, which is the Kindle’s native format.

It all sounds so easy doesn’t it. You open your book in InDesign, go to File>Export for Digital Editions, choose your export options, and click Go. Ahhhh. If only!

The first thing I learned is that you really should break the document up into separate InDesign documents for each chapter. Not trivial when you have created each of your books as one long document. Breaking them into chapters makes it easier for ebook reading devices to load the pages to be displayed. It also means that during the export, InDesign will create a table of contents that will be used by the ebook reader to provide easy navigation for your readers.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I successfully converted Pastoral Letters to Kindle format and within a few days it became available for sale on Amazon’s Kindle Store. I downloaded a free sample (first 10 pages) so I could see how it performed on the Kindle app for iPad. I quickly found some shortcomings in the formatting and made some edits and re-uploaded it. After that, I purchased my own copy. Cool.

Since then I have uploaded a second book to the Kindle Store, The Way of the Cross by J. Gregory Mantle. As of this writing it has been accepted by the review team but will not appear on the store for another 24-36 hours. I sell ten times more of these on Amazon.com than I do of Pastoral Letters, so it will be interesting to see how they sell in Kindle format.

In my next post I’ll tell about my experiences submitting books to Apple for the iBookstore.