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? 😉

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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