Monday, April 5, 2010

Ebook toolsets for mac

Spent a lot of time today tweaking my ebook tools.

First, there's a new version of epubcheck here. It caught some minor errors in my most recent epub books - Looking Glass and Irreconcilable Differences, which appear to make some small difference rendering my HTML/CSS in epubs.

Second, also for the epub world, Adobe Digital Editions seems to have a less flakey version out for mac, although their flash installer fails, as one might expect. You can download the standalone installer here.

Second-and-a-Half, in a nice also-ran, is the Barnes and Noble eReader. It does a tolerable job of rendering ePubs, though it still ignores more of my CSS than Adobe's offering. The user interface is /much/ nicer, though a bit idiosyncratic, than Digital Editions. The thing does crash fairly reliably if you feed it two different versions of the same book, so it's problematic for ebook testing in my case. It's available here.

Third, and long, long overdue, Amazon has released a version of the product formerly known as mobigen now known as Kindlegen that is native for mac. If you didn't know, I've been running mobigen for PC in Wine's occasionally flakey emulation since I got my kindle. Now I have a native executable that runs in MacOS X. Much faster, much less flakey, and I don't have to wait for x-windows to start up. Otherwise it appears more or less the same. You can get Kindlegen here.

Fourth, also courtesy of Amazon, OS X finally has a decent mobipocket reader that runs natively in the form of Kindle for Mac. Another tool I've had to use in Emulation, and the only reason I have been maintaining a Windows 7 beta installation in Parallells, so I could verify that my mobipocket files actually worked on anything besides an actual Kindle, which also have. You can get Kindle for Mac here.

I'm not sure what to make of the spate of new tools for Mac. It's easy to say B&N and Amazon are afraid their book readers will be swept away by iPad, so rather than continue to disenfranchise Mac users (in Amazon's case) they finally decided to support Mac. I don't actually know, and I don't care that much. I have a Kindle and I use it when I travel. I have an iPod touch that I use constantly. Both can read my kindle library, as can my desktop. Theoretically (though I haven't tried it on Kindle) both can read free epub books as well. From the standpoint of /making/ ebooks on my desktop, having these new tools is a godsend. Oh, and one other thing. They're all free (as in beer).


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