Paginations

Converting a Kindle book to Nook format (or How I Synced My Life)

A couple of months back, I was sans e-reader. Yes, as strange as it may sound, I was a self-published author in e-book format only…who didn’t have an e-book device. For the past few years, I had been reading books on my iPhone. Damned convenient, no doubt (talk about read-anywhere), but hell on the eyes. And at my ripe old age, and the thousands my wife invested in LASIK for me way back when, I couldn’t take the chance of ruining them. So a little while ago, I picked up a Nook (see my new Nook vs old vs Kindle post here). And I absolutely love it. The problem? I own Kindle books.

When I first got into the world of being an author, and finding so many other fellow authors with books I wanted to read, and having no specific e-reader, I purchased several of their novels in Kindle format, and used the iPhone Kindle app to read them. I also purchased some traditional authors’ works at much higher prices (a Stephen King, two David Webers, a Stephen Baxter, and a Peter F. Hamilton, off the top of my head). No problem, right? Problem – I haven’t read them all, but I look forward to them…and I own a Nook. Yes, I could read them on my iPhone; yes I could purchase them again (although the traditional authors’ stuff combined would run me as much as buying another Nook I think). I decided to convert the Kindle to Nook format (like ripping a CD you own to put in your iPod…that’s how I look at it, for those of you who may say I should be buying the novels again).

There they are...

Took me a while, but I got it. I use Calibre a lot to convert files to other formats, so that was a no-brainer. However, not having a Kindle, I have no “file” to convert. It’s in my iPhone, and with Apple’s closed infrastructure, there’s no way to get to that file. A light bulb went off. The Kindle app for my Mac. It stores the file somewhere, right? Bingo…found them.

I loaded the Kindle app on my MacBook Air, synced with my Amazon account, and my Kindle books appeared; the same ones I have on my iPhone. I drilled down into my system folders (~/Library/Application Support/Kindle/My Kindle Content for you Mac-heads; Windows? Sorry, you’re on your own…but they’re in there somewhere, search for *.azw), and lo and behold, there were the files. All with goofy names and multiple formats, so it was some trial and error to find the ones I wanted. Once I did, I opened the .azw files in Calibre, and *poof* converted them to ePub. From there, a quick drag and drop into my Nook (sideloading), and all my legally purchased and owned content is now in my Nook, ready and waiting for me to read.

I realize many of you already knew this, but I never sat down and thought about it…glad I did. Now I can read those novels on a great device.

By the way, none of my books have DRM on them. I’m more than happy to have someone buy it once and convert for their other devices. Shameless Plug: Wanna give a little best-selling science fiction-adventure a try? Gabriel’s Redemption (book 1) and Gabriel’s Return (book 2) are available for said Kindle for less than a decent Starbucks coffee, and Gabriel’s Revenge (final of trilogy) came out just before Christmas.

Anyone have similar success stories…or some frustrations to share?

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Hands on with the new Nook Simple Touch e-reader

OK, I admit it…I can’t keep my hands off new tech toys. I picked up a new e-reader the other day with the intention of wrapping it and giving it to my son for his 8th grade graduation present Thursday. Needless to say, the wrapping never happened. I will say, unequivocally, that he WILL receive it for his graduation gift…but I just had to play around with it. And I came away so impressed (and jealous) I decided to do a quick write-up, side-by-side comparison with my Nook 1st gen.

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Click to enlarge

The first thing I saw in the Barnes & Noble (after happily hearing that a pre-order customer had never picked it up, so they had one in stock) was the size. I own both a Nook 1st generation (e-ink, not Color) and a Kobo, and a friend has a Kindle, so I’ve experienced all three of the ‘majors’ (no offense to Sony, et al.) The new Nook takes convenience, size, and portability to a whole new level.

It is flat-out tiny. Because it’s a touch screen (quite revolutionary in an e-ink package), it doesn’t need the extra inch or so at the bottom for navigation keys/screens. It’s just the screen with a frame around it. It’s close to the same thickness as the original Nook, which is slightly thicker than the Kindle 3, but other dimensions are significantly different. It measures 6.5″ in height, 5″ in width, and .47″ in depth. It also jumps ahead of Kindle on weight – now 7.48 ounces vs Kindle’s 8.5 ounces. It’s 35% lighter than the original Nook, and 21% more compact. It’s almost small enough to tuck into a (large) shirt pocket, or back pocket if you want to risk sitting on it.

Battery life? Huge shot across Kindle’s bow. With typical usage and wifi off, the Nook Simple Touch will last up to two months reading an hour per day, wifi off. As in, charge your Nook six times per year. There has been an argument between BN and Amazon about how they test the life – see more here – but in a nutshell, BN called Amazon out on faulty test conditions (originally the Kindle was listed at one month battery life reading an hour per day; magically overnight when the Nook was announced, they changed their stats to say two months at a half hour each day….). In side-by-side tests conducted by BN (caveat emptor), same reading conditions, the Nook lasted 150 hours, Kindle 56 hours. Having not used it more than an hour or so, I can’t speak to it, but most data I’ve read is calling the new Nook battery life at least twice that of Kindle.

Performance? Absolutely excellent. As you can see from this video I shot:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3T2NyvrhZyE&w=425&h=344]
Page turning is noticeably quicker compared to the old Nook (which in my side-by-side tests previously, the 1st gen Nook was about the same as a Kindle 3). The page flicker everyone has probably gotten used to on any e-reader is minimized (it flickers every 6th page turn…apparently due to better buffering). Very quick when changing menus, flicking up through bookshelves…wait, did I say flicking? Yep, touch screen scrolling…

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The touch screen sells this device above any other feature. With the Kobo Touch not having shipped yet I can’t compare it, but as an iPhone user for over three years now, I can’t tell you how much I miss touching a screen to do something when that feature isn’t available. In today’s smartphone era, it’s just natural to point and touch to make something happen (no double enténdre intended, I swear). The Nook delivers. Menus, book selections, highlighting a word or phrase for notes or definitions…no more clicking and moving a cursor. And the on screen keyboard is exactly what one expects in 2011 for a device, not the chiclets of a circa-2004 cellphone. (However, I know the millions of Kindle users out there swear by the keyboard – feel free to flame me, but once you try an onscreen keyboard…come back to me and put the flame out please.)

Notifications from friends, integration with Twitter and Facebook, 6 inch 800DPI e-ink Pearl screen, all the standard features a new generation e-reader should have. The smaller Nook dropped the headphone port, which can be a significant loss for those who like to (a) hear audiobooks or (b) listen to MP3s while reading. Also, Nook does not offer a 3G version (then again, it has in-store free reading with their wifi, and AT&T free wifi hotspots everywhere).

Pricing is a difference if you look at it one way; the Nook Simple Touch is $139, as is the Kindle 3, but Amazon does have the ad-supported Kindle at $114. Honestly (opinion ahead, watch out) I feel that Amazon, if they wanted to go ad-supported, should have gone for the magic $100 barrier. I don’t know if seeing ads from time to time, while probably unobtrusive, is worth only a $25 savings.

Bookstores? Yes, this is an argument I’ve heard (“I don’t want to buy a device that won’t have a store behind it, and all bookstores are going bankrupt.”) But Barnes & Noble isn’t going anywhere. Unlike Borders, they embraced the e-book revolution, and they are currently mulling a $1 billion bid for purchase by a company who is interested in them almost solely for the Nook and Nook bookstore. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, I feel, have really done it right in their e-book plan; Borders missed the boat, contracted a third party company, and barely supported it in-store. Technically Barnes & Noble actually has a larger selection of e-books than Amazon does (last data was 2 million vs. 950,000), but really any popular book will be in both.

Conclusion? Barnes & Noble has out-Kindled the Kindle hardware-wise, and has left the market leader an entire generation behind. Rumor has it that Amazon is readying a touch screen, Android-powered Kindle 4 for later this year, with the ability to possibly install apps (although having surfed the web on an e-ink device, that experience left a lot to be desired…you want apps, go iPad or Nook Color). So we’ll see. But right now, what’s available in the market? Maybe what Dad wants for Father’s Day? Take a close look at the Nook Simple Touch. Very exciting time to be both an author AND a reader!

Quick shameless plug (independent author’s bread and butter) – Gabriel’s Redemption scifi-adventure ebook is available for just $2.99 on the aforementioned Nook and Kindle. Book 2 of the trilogy is hitting in July!

Your thoughts?

 

 

P.S. MacWorld just posted a review of the Kobo eReader Touch Edition, which comes in slightly smaller than the new Nook.

 

 

 

 

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In celebration of the new Nook, join me in promoting fellow authors

I was lying in bed last night (no worries, this blog post isn’t going there) reading Game 7: Dead Ball by Allen Schatz on my Nook Classic (tip: go buy that book). As I swiped my finger from right to left on the awesome little color nav screen, I realized I really love my Nook. And I feel for it. It’s like the forgotten middle sister to the older, more experienced Kindle, and the younger, flashier iPad.

I’m not a button kinda guy (see aforementioned finger swipe), which explains why I don’t have a Kindle…not a fan of that circa-2004 cellphone keyboard it sports. But I also don’t want to read on backlit LCDs, since for the past couple of years I’ve read books on my iPhone, and I’ll probably go blind from the (a) strain in sunlight, or (b) glare at night. So when I got my Nook (again, not the Color backlit one), ostensibly for a giveaway, I fell in love with it (my apologies to the person who may have won it in the never-kicked-off contest I planned to have).

But then it dawned on me last night…even though I use a Nook, and love it, it’s still that middle sister, even in my own marketing efforts. If I send a tweet about my novel (shameless plug & links: Gabriel’s Redemption scifi-adventure just $2.99 for Nook & Kindle), I invariably will send the Kindle one. Why? Market leader, of course – if I only have one sales message to send, it’s a Kindle message. Makes perfect business sense. But then I look at my sad Nook, staring back at me with its plaintive eyes (OK, color nav screen), and I feel like I’m cheating on that middle sister.

So here’s the deal. I’m gonna single-handedly vault the Nook into the number one spot for ereaders. Okay, that’s absurdly optimistic. I can’t even get my novel into the Top 10,000 on Kindle. I’ll start smaller. Starting tomorrow (Friday), and in celebration of the new Nook Simple Touch reader that is now available for purchase (man, that’s an awesome piece of tech), I’m going to throw out a hashtag and promote fellow authors’ ebooks on the Nook every Friday. I’d love it if you joined in. It will be the oh-so-creative hashtag #nookfriday.

Promote your novels and shorts, promote your friends…hell, promote a $38 ebook about King Arthur. Doesn’t matter. If you see a tweet from someone promoting a Nook book, even if it’s not your cup of tea, retweet it if you like…perhaps one of your Twitter followers enjoys that type of tea.

With the new Nook shipping next week, I do foresee a jump, if even a small one, in market share for Barnes & Noble…at least until Amazon catches up. So I think it’s an excellent time to start getting the word out on my novel, as well as others, that can find a home on a reader’s Nook.

Whaddya say…are you in?

 

Update: My current sales rank (June 2) for Gabriel’s Redemption in PubIt for BN is 342,782 (stellar, I know). We’ll see if the needle moves at all…

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