First you will need to determine what format you want to create
the document in. For this process you have several choices, each
with their own strengths and weaknesses. Below is a list of some
of the more commonly used formats with some of their advantages
- This format is very secure and allows for a great degree of
customization. It is probably the most professional looking finished
product, even if you do very little to customize it.
- This format however, is plagued by being very closed. You cannot
use this format on a Palm powered device, on an older Windows
CE 1.0-2.1 device or on a Linux computer. This can be severely
limiting if your organization uses a multitude of platforms or
is not uniformly using a Pocket PC powered device.
Adobe Acrobat is probably the best-known format for transmitting
documents in a relatively secure medium. It can be viewed on nearly
all platforms including (but not limited to) Linux, Windows, Macintosh,
Palm and Pocket PC devices. It is only limitation in regards to
platform availability is that it does not support older Windows
The problem that plagues the Acrobat format is twofold. File sizes
are increased significantly. If you will be transferring these documents
wirelessly through infrared or through serial connections you will
find the wait a very long one indeed. The second problem with Adobe's
format is that the cost is quite prohibitive for the software. To
form an Acrobat file you require Adobe Acrobat, which can cost $400
USD or more. This can be very limiting to an individual or business
that does not have a lot of money.
Palm DOC Format
This format is becoming increasingly popular. While it does not
offer the security of MS Reader, or the widespread usage of Adobe's
Acrobat format, the cost is very low and the file sizes are kept
to a minimum. It can be read across nearly any platform (with the
one exclusion being Linux on handhelds) and it has a very professional
The downside to the Palm format is that it is relatively
unknown. It is gaining popularity but the average person who receives
a .pdb file, probably won't know what to do with it.
There of course are only a fraction of the available
formats that you can investigate for your purposes. You may wish
to go the 'proprietary software' way and use a format such as iSilo
or TomeRaider. Including all of these formats would be beyond the
scope of this guide but a good starting point is the respective
company web site.
The cost of production is completely format dependent.
If you decide to use Adobe Acrobat (view figure 5.1) you could very
easily spend several hundred dollars. If you wish to use Palm's
DOC format you might be looking at only $50-100 for a professional
suite or nothing for some of the free conversion utilities. Microsoft
Reader currently has two main options. Word 2000 offers the ability
to convert text file into Reader files, this option is free but
does not allow the same customization that Overdrive's Readerworks
(See figure 5.2) does (a software suite that is very complete and
will run you up to $119 USD).
(Adobe Reader for Palm OS)
Generally, these authoring tools will take your formatted
.txt, .doc, .html, .jpg and .rtf files and convert them into a reader
format. As an example, in Readerworks, you would take your eBook.txt
file and load it as a source file. You would then click on compile
and much like a compiler for a programming language, it will take
the document and convert it into something that the reader will
understand. This process will often involve filling the text file
with tags to denote specific formatting.
Depending upon the program used, you may have to include
the title page in the document or you may be able to add it through
a completely separate process. It is best in any case to stick to
something simple and not too large. For the majority these eBooks
will be displayed on small screens with limited memory and anything
that isn't displayed properly will turn a person off. As a rule
of thumb, if you can, without side-scrolling, the text file that
is your book, it will be displayed properly. It is also wise to
spell check your document and reread it before committing to a compile.