On eBooks

Way back in the dark ages of the year 2000 Microsoft released the MS-Reader eBook software. It was the platform on which a new line of Star Trek books were being released–SCE, or the Starfleet Corps of Engineers for those bad with acronyms–and I downloaded the software, and I downloaded the eBooks.

A couple of companies released software to produce eBooks for the MS-Reader format. Compulsive tinkerer that I am, I downloaded the software–from a standalone product to a plug-in for Microsoft Word–and I messed around with files to see what I could do.

My first few eBooks were not that great. I’d pull a file off of, say, Project Gutenberg, mark up the file, and run it through the process. It was a learning process, and the tenth eBook was markedly better than the first.

The first eBooks were simple. One of the first was Jean Airey’s Star Trek/Doctor Who mash-up, The Doctor and the Enterprise (and I’ve tinkered with that one from time to time). I made a rather complicated one–as a tech demo–for the Star Trek Novel Timeliners (and if anyone still has it, please drop me a line–I was rather proud of the work I did on that, only I don’t have it any more). The one I think I did the best job on? The Volsung Saga. That one’s quality.

Over the weekend I had some time to spare, and I built an eBook, the first I’d done in, well, maybe six months. All told, a half an hour spent. And it turned out well.

I like Sherlock Holmes. Not really a surprise–some of you readers have my business card. 😉 I went to Project Gutenberg, downloaded a Sherlock Holmes text, and…

Well, it’s not quite a Sherlock Holmes text.

American humorist John Kendrick Bangs wrote a short novel in 1906 entitled R. Holmes & Co.. Raffles Holmes, son of Sherlock Holmes and grandson of amateur cracksman A.J. Raffles, comes to New York to make his way in the world, commit a little bugglery (in honor of his grandfather) and solve a little crime (in the style of his father). It’s an amusing, if somewhat frivolous little book, and I’ve been fond of it since I first read it roughly fifteen years ago.

So, I made an eBook of R. Holmes & Co. for Microsoft Reader.

It went off pretty much without a hitch. I had to tweak one little bit of formatting three times–the formatting is handled as CSS, just like a webpage, and being a Microsoft product Reader isn’t particularly sophisticated when it comes to CSS–but eventually it turned out quite well.

Care to see? 😉

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