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Robin Rendle:

  1. I’ve always seen the browser as a printing press.
  2. Because of that, I’ve always seen myself as a publisher first and then everything else second.

This, particularly the second point. I’ve seen myself as a publisher for a long time now as well, with all the books and language charts and magazines and even the art. And the web makes publishing so, so easy. It’s magical. Instant worldwide distribution. (Well, instant for the digital things I make.)

His first point has stuck with me as well — I’ve tended to think of my site mostly as a place to publish PDFs and EPUBs and images and other files I’ve made, but I like the idea of the web as the actual delivery mechanism, for more than just blog posts. This isn’t a new idea, of course; it’s just something I haven’t been thinking about as much till now. I’m looking over the type of things I’ve made — books, languages charts, etc. — and thinking what it would be like if the end product were a web page instead of a PDF or an EPUB. And of course nowadays I’m using HTML/CSS as the source for all three main formats for books (web, EPUB, PDF), so it doesn’t necessarily have to be either/or.

Anyway, nothing specific in mind yet. We’ll see what comes of it.

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I’m getting a bit of a nostalgia kick reading through the Standard Ebooks process. I haven’t made anything with them (though they do good work and I’m reading two of their editions right now), but years ago — in a former life, it seems — I used to make ebook editions of old books.

As far as I can tell, the first ebook I made was Chesterton’s The Ball and the Cross, which I typed up by hand and posted to Project Gutenberg. Around that time I worked on a handful of other books for PG, including Henry Sweet’s An Icelandic Primer, which was much more involved (Old Icelandic characters, tables, etc.) and incredibly fun.

After that I worked on several more books as part of the Mormon Texts Project and also started making EPUB and Kindle editions of other books (like the 1812/1815 edition of Grimms’ fairy tales and George MacDonald’s The Light Princess). Those were quite fun, too.

Somewhere around five or so years ago I stopped, partly from working on other things, partly from repetitive strain injuries. (Even with Vim macros to help, there’s still a multitude of repetitive keystrokes in cleaning up texts, at least for me.) With reading about Standard Ebooks and writing this post, though, I’m tempted to get back into it. I built Fledge years ago as an attempt to script away more of the repetitive work, and I suspect wiser use of both it and Vim might be enough to minimize the RSI.

On a related note, I’ve been wanting to rewrite md2epub. It’s a decent-enough Python script that takes Markdown files and turns them into an EPUB, and it’s worked well. But it’s an old codebase, and I don’t like the name anymore, and it could be faster, and I have a few ideas on how to make it more ergonomic, so I’m planning to dub it Caxton and rewrite it in Go or Rust. (Primarily so I’ll have an easier way to make EPUB editions of my fiction.) This part is the most likely to actually happen, I think.

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I’ve enjoyed Anne Trubek’s Notes from a Small Press newsletter. Recommended if you’re interested in books and publishing.

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Fascinating chart showing the imprints and other divisions of the Big Five U.S. publishers (Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette).

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Quick update: In my limited free time, I’ve been working on some exciting new publishing projects that I should be able to release next month. I can’t say more about them right now, but they’re coming.

Also, I’ve found that while school does take up a lot of time, I function best if I keep a few side projects going, no matter how slowly. (Initially I thought I’d put all the side projects on hold until I finish the master’s.)

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