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What options are there, and how do they compare against each other, for digitally publishing (for example, a series of short stories)?

In addition to the issue of format management (producing whatever electronic file formats are appropriate) any information about distribution would also be welcomed.

I am a teacher in a graduate-level literature program and am looking for solutions I can pass on to my students, so this is not just for my own use.

  • The question as stated seems way to vague. There is one particular question in the middle, but if this is it, it should be extended and clarified what you are after. I think you should reformulate are narrow down your question to get reasonable answers. – Dirk May 17 '13 at 7:11
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    I actually like the idea behind this question, and I think that it could be relevant with re-working. That being said, as is, it's too vague to have a definitive answer. Feel free to reformulate to be more specific and request consideration for re-opening. – eykanal May 17 '13 at 13:09
  • I've tried to make the question more specific. Anyone want to re-open it (besides me)? – earthling May 17 '13 at 14:19
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    If this question is, "How do I publish an e-book?" it may be appropriate for writers.stackexchange.com. – Irwin May 17 '13 at 15:17
  • Thank you. The revision is great. Thanks for the writers link FAQ too. Seems like a great site like this one. – Javeer Baker May 18 '13 at 0:16
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The good news is that once you've got a text in one eBook format, it is relatively painless to publish it in additional formats (PDF being the notable exception, though it is generally easy to get a document into PDF format--you can do a decent job with a converter such as Calibre--see below--but translating the format properly is sometimes tricky).

At the very least, you should publish in PDF format. While not a particularly good format for reading on portable devices, it is a universal format that can be read on any any modern eReader, and, of course, on a PC screen.

I would also suggest formatting the book in the open EPUB format, and in a Kindle format (either .MOBI, AZW, or .KF8). I would then link to all of the formats on your web page, possibly with instructions on how to get the volume onto a particular device. You could also consider self-publishing the volume to the Kindle store, but bear in mind that there may be restrictions, and I believe you will be forced to charge for the volume. The iTunes Store is another possibility, but comes with its own restrictions and formatting / conversion guidelines.

You should definiltely download the fine E-Book manager, Calibre, which can convert between formats and is free.

In the end, there isn't one true standard for eBook formats yet, but it is not difficult having a few different formats on your web page.

  • Calibre is great (but not perfect) for converting between ebook formats. – earthling May 17 '13 at 13:04
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I would suggest using iBook Author (free).

Drawbacks

  • The drawback is that e-books created with this software are only viewable as PDF or on an iPad.
  • As someone who has used InDesign for page layout projects, I find the layout capabilities are limited.
  • As @Chris Gregg points out, this application is only available for Mac running Lion or higher.

Advantage

  • The advantage is that this format allows teachers to add chapter/unit review quizzes, embedding of 3D objects, image galleries,presentations, & even html.

Feel free to contact me if you need more information about this.

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    Another drawback is that the software requires OS X on a Mac. – Chris Gregg May 23 '13 at 6:27

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