A New Platform Comes to Town . . .

by wjw on January 28, 2012

Just last week I was grousing about the exclusivity and the egregious contract connected with with Apple’s iBooks Author.

Now I hear that Atavist, better known for long-form journalism and for producing original fiction to be read on hand-held devices, is on the cusp of releasing their new software, which (they say) will do everything that iBooks Author will do, only on damn near every platform known to humankind.

Here’s the scoop, according to Atavist’s own page:

Anyone can use it: Assemble publications (books, stories, reports, newsletters, etc.), design them, add multimedia, and rapidly export these to a variety of mobile platforms. No design or programming expertise required!

Multidimensional storytelling: Periodic lets you create layers of storytelling—an audiobook, timelines, maps, video and audio clips, zoom-able images, photo galleries, and soundtracks. Just upload your media files, and the platform does the rest.

One-click publishing to multiple platforms: Periodic automatically tailors your content to the iPad, iPhone, iPod, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, and (soon) Android, and will support new devices as they come to market.

Of course I have yet to see any reviews by anyone who has used the actual product yet, so users’ mileage may vary.  The whole thing may be a buggy catastrophe for ought that I know.

But if it works, it will be a huge self-publishing tool.  Not just for books, but for other multimedia projects, including (just for an example) alternate reality games.

And it may prove a major competitor for, say, Smashwords, who do much the same thing, but who charge a wee percentage for uploading to all those sites.  The Atavist program is not free (I assume), but you’re not paying royalties forever, either.



Josh Gentry January 28, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Putting my name in the beta hat now.

Ralf The Dog. January 29, 2012 at 2:17 am

If you don’t mind my asking, I have a friend who wants to republish a number of books he wrote in the past on the Kindle. Would you recommend Smashwords or something else?

wjw January 29, 2012 at 4:44 am

Ralf, that entirely depends on how much of the work he wants to do himself.

Smashwords requires that the submission be in .doc format, which is always a sticking point for those of us who hate Word, and will take a percentage of the sales if marketing to third-party sites like the iBook Store and the Kindle Store.

On the other hand, you can submit to Barnes & Noble and Kindle yourself, as they allow individual authors to set up accounts with them. iBooks wouldn’t permit that, at least when I tried.

Here’s what I do. I format the book in .rtf using Atlantis, a Word emulator that doesn’t add the tons of junk code you get with an actual Word file. With Atlantis, I can save directly into epub file, which I then correct with a piece of freeware called Sigil. I can upload this directly to B&N.

I then take my epub file and convert it to Kindle using another piece of freeware called ePub to Kindle. This I then market directly to the Kindle Store.

Then I take my .rtf file and save it to .doc, after which I send that to Smashwords for inclusion in Kobo, iBook Store, and other places that won’t deal directly with authors. I very carefully tell Smashwords =not= to send my files to Kindle or B&N.

Smashwords is really fussy about their formatting, so you shouldn’t try anything at all until you read their style guide.

Hmm. Maybe I should do a more complete and detailed post on this.

Ralf The Dog. January 29, 2012 at 5:19 am

Even better, I think you should publish a book on how to publish a book. (Sounds a bit recursive.)

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