Monday, 3 August 2015

A Reader's Choice in Reading. Reflections

By a reader's choice I don't mean 'what to read', but rather 'how to read'.

I am a firm believer in customer choice - my many years in sales management and work-based learning have reinforced this conviction. At the outset of publishing, pre 2009, I was ahead in the queue for digital publishing; my first publisher in the US offered *pdf only. When I was able to upgrade to Kindle and ePub I encountered a whole raft of issues resulting in many long-distance telephone conversations. I decided we had the in-house skills to do it all ourselves. And so Christal Publishing was born.

Print v. Digital

There is still a huge preference for the printed word. Even a preference for a combination of print and e-reading device. That makes sense really as one size does not fit all. But let's take a look at the popularity of various e-retailers and devices. 
  • By device I mean: Kindle, Android tablet, Apple tablet - iPad, smart phones, PC etc.
  • By e-retailer I mean the on line store from which you purchase and download your book.

Looking at the various formats.

Print. This could be paperback or hardback. Don't they look good on the bookshelf with the spines encouraging you to pick up and put down at will and read time and time again?


Adobe *PDF (Portable Document Format) Following specific guidelines, the printed manuscript is converted to a *pdf file for reading digitally on computers  or a tablet. In general the original layout is preserved which works extremely well for the text-book style of book. Images are retained without any further changes. You will find our *pdf formats in worldwide on line stores such as Hive, Welsh Books Council,Kobo,Google Play etc. They are also available to libraries.
  • You will need to have the free-to-download Adobe Digital Editions software to read these. This allows you to re-size text, fit page, two-page display, bookmark etc.
Apart from the *pdf format an e-book is not a carbon copy of the print version. The text has to flow. For instance, if you make the text larger, it re-flows seamlessly without creating large areas of white paper as you would get in a word-processing document. Page count is increased. 

Amazon Kindle. The manuscript has to be re-formatted to conform to Amazon's submission guidelines for reading on a variety of Kindle devices. Apps are available for other devices e.g. Apple, Android, PC. The images have to meet specific formatting guidelines so that they are viewable on smaller screens.

This is the most common format used on the huge platform of reading devices. The main task here is to get the converted manuscript into the many e-retailers and onto the many e-reading devices. After long deliberation, I used Smashwords  whose name speaks for itself. Founder Mark Coker in the US wanted to bring the written word to a wide audience. Their slogan is 'your ebook your way'. For this reason a variety of formats for each title are available for download from their own store.

In addition, passing all the auto- vetter and manual vetting checks to Apple's standards, all our titles have been included in the Premium Catalogue for shipping to Apple (who do more checks), Kobo, Nook, subscription channels Oyster and Scribd, and libraries to name a few. 

Kindle v. Kobo

It is well-known that you can download a Kindle App to your tablet or PC to enable you to read Kindle books. It is, isn't it? You didn't know? So easy and it takes seconds to open up a whole new affordable world.
Did you know that, turning the tables, Kobo have an App for Kindle as well as PC, Android etc.? Yes, you can, and this is what Kobo says on the title page of an ePub book:
"You can read this item using any of the following Kobo apps and devices:"
  • IOS
    Source: 03.08.2015

Click on the link then any of the titles in ePub format (distributed by Smashwords US) and download the App.
The *pdf versions are distributed from the UK.
With all the dominance of Amazon I find it heart-warming to have such good rankings for my titles and such consistent sellers.

To be perfectly honest, the travel-based books are fine in ePub but the Lifelong Learning Guides are much better in the original layout and image size of *PDF. Many major online retailers have partnered with Kobo to offer eBooks through their Kobo store.e.g. Easons in Ireland.

The best of both world with Kindle Education Text Book Creator.
Amazon now have software to put text books into a more user-friendly format with the Kindle EDU text book creator where diagrams, charts, complicated formatting is preserved as in the print version.
We are in the middle of converting the Lifelong Learning: Personal Effectiveness Guides to this with interactive images and videos. Exciting times. having fun!

Watch this space.
Rosalie xx

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A Bracing Time by the Seaside. Fleetwood to Weston-Super-Mare!

Time to take a break and meet up with Gold Wing biking friends.

July saw OH and myself heading towards Fleetwood for our GWOCGB region's [Lancs and Lakes] Wing Ding. Not being campers, we booked as usual into a hotel. The North Euston Hotel on the Esplanade at Fleetwood once again welcomed us.
Fleetwood is a fishing town on the north Lancashire coast across the bay from Morecambe; as you can guess, freshly caught fish was on the menu everywhere. We settled ourselves after inscribing at the Wing Ding site and doing our stint to meet and greet new arrivals etc.

There is always a planned ride-out. We and another member managed to get some photos of these impressive bikes as they gathered for a day of riding.

The evenings were a time of chat, catch-up and fun as many danced to the disco.

Afterwards, many headed straight down to Weston-Super-Mare at the other end of the country in the south west of England into sunny North Somerset for Avon Wing's Wing Ding. This was Cider country!

We headed there later in the week, checking in to the very comfortable seafront hotel - Smiths Hotel. Planning to catch up with family whilst down there, our plans changed somewhat and didn't get onto the Wing Ding site as much as hoped. We did however, meet up with many friends on the seafront at the Thursday night Weston Bike Night where bikes of all shapes and sizes were parked up for the men to drool over. Freshly caught  fish was also on the menu and they were huge. Enough to feed two. 
If you have a Gold Wing or are thinking of buying one, visit the GWOCGB website to get a flavour of the fun to be had. If you haven't yet got your Gold Wing you can join as a 'social member'. Visit the GWOCGB site for details

When the sun went down on Sunday night, the light started to go 'transparent'; the lights on the hotel terrace came on - rotating from lilac to blue to green with fairy lights dripping down the lamp standards and I really felt as if I was back in Venice on the Riva degli Schiavoni!
Weston-Super-mare or Balcon de Europe in Nerja, Andalucia, southern Spain?

Although the palm trees transported me to Nerja in southern Spain.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Local Jeweller Celebrates 30 Years in the Town.

A celebration.

Through links - in a roundabout way - via social media, I have connected with Ruth Rees who is one half of Martin Rees, Jeweller in Wrexham. Ruth was very generous in donating to my fund-raising efforts for Dreamflight when I flew down the mountain on the longest zip wire in Europe.
Until now Ruth and I have been like ships that cross in the night but today we finally got acquainted.

We have lived in Wrexham, North Wales, for more years than I care to remember. What I do remember is Martin and Ruth opening their current shop in Chester Street as they took over from Mr. Mawdsley who was retiring. That part of Chester Street Wrexham, eventually became very dilapidated. It is very old with many historic links. Eventually, the whole row of shops was renovated with the whole character and the charming windows in the roof and their little roofs being retained. With flowers, bunting an a sparkling drink everything was very festive.

For anyone who likes to press their nose to a jewellers shop window as I do, a treat is in store with a wide range of goods on display. Visit their website and online store at

The shop was busy both when I arrived and when I left and off I went with my little stash of newly chosen library books to wend my way home for a good read in the garden.

Progress on the Kindle EDU re-formatting for Lifelong Learning Books.

Two of these titles have had their cover updated to tie in better with the later three. Now these titles will have a new ISBN  for Kindle EDU as they are, in effect, a new title/format. The upside of this is that we can update the front and back matter. You know all those essential bits that have to be there but are not part of the book proper.We can also add interactive images and video as well as retaining the original layout as per paperback. This is a great relief as these titles look and work better with the original layout.

I have spent some time this week on the Further Reading section and preparing some images for the Introduction. I am debating whether to leave them as individual images or make them into a very short video. Some practice will no doubt settle the matter one way or another.

This and that.

Wimbledon is in full swing and the heat has slowed me down as the garden beckoned. I watched tennis while on the bike machine at the gym. Hopping off to move onto the rowing machine - the best stress buster I know - I missed the final shots from Andy Murray where he emerged the winner.
Next week, I promise I will knuckle down and move on. Watch this space.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Just Us Two and Chasing Rainbows sport new jackets.

Decision made! The paperback covers for Just Us Two and Chasing Rainbows were due for an update.


Some time ago, after taking a wonderful photo of two rainbows, which arched over Nerja, southern Spain, from the mountains to the sea, after a storm, I was excited to realise that I had my rainbow for Chasing Rainbows and set to work on making the cover more dynamic.
Just Us Two followed as I made the central image a full page one - not unlike the original when the first edition was published in 2009. We kept our beloved  Andorra mountains as a backdrop to our special photograph of OH and myself 'Just Us Two' with the Gold Wing. This was taken on Achill Island as we tested the water on our very first touring journey abroad. A session with Photoshop brought us together so to speak.
Feedback on the eBook covers was positive so bringing the paperback into line was a no-brainer.

It has made marketing the full portfolio easier and more co-ordinated.


What next?

  • This has led to a new video being  required. Work in progress and my task for this week.
  • Our decision to re-format the Lifelong Learning Kindle books into the Kindle text book format is opening up new and exciting possibilities.
  • As these will be new titles with a new ISBN, we are taking the opportunity to update the 'Further Reading' section on all five titles in the series
  • We can insert images and video to make it all more interactive and vibrant.
  • More importantly, the layout will be exactly the same as the print book with all the bullets, diagrams, tables etc. as they were designed to be. No need to re-do the layout or save the images with different file formats and resolution.
Exciting times.  Watch this space.
Rosalie xx