Shortcovers has entered the eBook conversion game. Last week, the eBookseller announced that they will help publishers get their books ready for digital consumption no matter what format they are currently in (PDF, Quark, InDesign, .doc, .rtf—whatever).
How does it work? If you want to go the pay route, you send your book files to Shortcovers and they’ll send you back EPUB files. They’ll also upload your newly created eBook to the Shortcovers site. And if you’re tight on pennies? Shortcovers will convert the book and make it available only on through Shortcovers.
Both options are good depending on your assessment of the value of other distribution channels (Sony and Stanza in Canada, Barnes and Noble and Amazon in the US plus a whack of others) and your available cash flow.
I’m not going to dive into the issue of semantic tagging here for a few reasons, the first and most important being that I’m not an XML or an EPUB spec expert. Second, I think it remains to be seen how well the conversion is done by Shortcovers and, third, I am of the camp that says it’s better to have eBooks available even if they are not the best possible quality (yet).
As Mark Bertils adroitly points out on his index//mb, the Canadian reader is missing out on digital content that is available to her/his neighbours to the south. And I’m not okay with that. Mark looked at just the Globe and Mail top ten but his argument easily extends to a much, much larger chunk of books available in print.
The time is now for experimentation in digital…at least from my perspective. I cannot tell you the number of books I have searched for on Shortcovers that I haven’t been able to find. I want books I can read on my laptop and on my iPhone. I don’t want a Kindle! I just want to be able to read good books on my devices. If this new initiative from Shortcovers makes that possible then it’s a huge step forward according to this reader.