• el
  • pt
  • Happy Holidays from the Queen and Vook

    Our friends at CodeMeetPrint alerted us to an announcement that Amazon will be distributing the Queen’s Christmas address as a free Kindle eBook on December 25th.

    Thanks to a Wodehouse inspired youthful Anglophilia, I’m a casual fan of the royal holiday address, most particularly George’s VI’s eve-of-WWII 1939 broadcast which he concluded with the quote, “I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year / Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown. . .” (always gives  a chill) – but for Vook, Amazon’s plan to release the eBook version is bigger than the Royal Family.

    The bookification of the Queen’s speech is a royal-crest-in-the-ground and rampant flag for why eBooks will become such a prevalent content form in 2024 and beyond.


    eBooks ship fast. You can create and inticingly package content like the Queen’s speech—and deliver it the same day. It’s what we’ve been saying for months, highlighting efforts like the LAT and NYT’s eBooks, free eBooks from daily email businesses and Vanity’s Fair titles. Now the Queen’s onboard: In 2024, everything can be an eBook. They’re the information rich packaged Web pages of the future — only easier to read on mobile devices.

    And Vook’s going to be the Dreamweaver of eBooks — the interface that lets you make better and better experiences.

    Here’s proof. While I’ll happily download Amazon’s speech eBook, I wish I could read it with the video or audio of the address included. It’s not like it’s hard to do — I just made my own eBook of the Queen’s first televised speech in 1957, and included the video. Consider it a holiday present from Vook—and a demonstration of where eBooks are going next year.


    If you click this link on your iOS device or Color Nook, the eBook will automatically download and open in your iBooks or Nook reader.

    And for all of you who are or who want to create eBooks, may Vook be your code-free WISYWIG light in 2024 to guide you through the unknown of div classes, page breaks, ePub 3 and KF8!

    Vook Is Cooking

    We began onramping beta users on Tuesday—and the turn-out for online training reminds us of the end of “Ghostbusters.” We thought we had a lot of demand, but we were still surprised when a Mr. Staypuff sized colossus suddenly materialized.

    But it did. And we’re kind of awed. Our users are hungry to make books. We’re moving fast to meet the demand. We’re instructing registrants in groups, walking them through the platform, then handing over the keys so they can build their own titles.

    Want more evidence? Our company is growing to help us extend Vook far and wide. We’re hiring!

    Specifically, we’re hiring a Lead Generation Marketing Manager and a Head of Sales. I’m not going to post the entire spec here — too much space — but click on either job title and you’ll see the requirements.

    The early user feedback is confirming that we’re building something people need. Expect to see examples of user created books soon. And if you’re not in the beta, get ready to start creating your own books directly after that.

    How Vanity Fair does eBooks right

    Yesterday I was thinking about books in video games, today I’m reading about books in books, how we make books, how some people write them. The book in question: Vanity Fair’s How A Book is Born: The Making of The Art of Fielding, by Keith Gessen.

    If the title looks unwieldly, for an eBook it’s aces. With digital, only a limited number of words show up on a reader’s screen, in a storefront or in a search result. Putting Vanity Fair first plays to the most eye-catching brand association, while the descriptive title is intriguing and straight forward. As for the aesthetic of the image itself, the cover shows up excellently in the Kindle Singles store. It looks sharp and eye-catching and authoritative; which can be difficult to pull off with digital’s little pixels.

    The single’s about how Gessen’s friend, Chad Harbach, wrote this year’s literary hit the Art of Fielding, the book’s arduous path to publication and how it was sold to the public. It reads like one of those John McPhee essays on river barges or the nation of Switzerland—focused on detail, skill and method, with an eye for the characters who have an expertise in each step of the narrative. As for the book within a book, the Art of Fielding contains segments from a fictional philosphical guide of the same name. So Gessen’s writing a magazine piece that’s become a book about how a book with a book inside of it is turned into an actual, physical, real book; and what that process might be like in the future.

    Anyone interested in digital publishing should read the essay and the novel—for my tl;dr blog take I want to point out what a particularly sharp example of digital publishing this is. Gessen’s essay on books is now a book I’m reading and enjoying just as I do Michael Lewis’s Boomerang.  It’s rich, smart, and absolutely worth what I would pay to watch an episode of the Office on iTunes.

    Vanity Fair is setting an example for magazine publishing about how to turn great stories into items you can sell. Magazines seem to be so focused on the app environment, but that’s not the only solution. Other magazines have published Kindle Singles, but this particularly self-reflexive exercise, complete with clever branding, is a best-in-class example. It points the way to the future. One could say it lets the path of publishing become its own path — to manglingly appropriate Harbach.  Apps are pretty and gorgeous and Newsstand is an excellent innovation. But don’t forget what Graydon Carter writes in his introduction, “What doesn’t appear to be up for grabs are the old-fashioned virtues of craft and quality. They still count for something. Actually, they count for everything.”

    eBooks may lack the gee-whiz of apps—but they put the craft and quality and fineness of words first. As an eBook, Gessen’s essay is now something I can pay for. It’s a product. It does what Gessen makes clear books have to do: generate revenue. If John Locke is making a living selling well done thrillers at 99 cents, there’s no reason others can’t take a stab at paying the rent with bookish essays on the crannies and complications of culture.

    A note to Gessen though—Carter’s listed as the author in my Kindle Reader. This is truly exceptional clever branding.

    Buy the single here.


    Kindle Format 8 in action

    Kindle Format 8 in action

    Amazon announced Kindle Format 8 and the Kindle Gen 2 platform today. It’s the first file format announcement that has me as excited as the launch of a new tablet device.


    Mobi needed an update to match the level of design you can achieve in ePub. Vook lets users create uniquely styled eBooks with our styling tool—but until KF8, many of those grace notes were lost in Mobi. For everyone who wants to read better looking books, this new standard is going to raise the bar everywhere. It’s like color coming to television—once people see what digital books can be, they won’t be satisfied with the old way of doing things.

    And we’re perfectly positioned to take advantage of the new format. Vook already lets you design the sharp, great looking ebooks that KF8 will support. Though there’s no mention of video in the features, the fact that you can display embedded fonts, drop caps, various CSS styling, color and borders syncs perfectly with what we can help you design.

    I asked our VP of engineering Rob Guttman what he thought KF8 meant for Vook. He said, “We’re that much more valuable because we can take advantage of all the styling offered in the new format and we can do the translation to the KF8 file type immediately. All you have to do is design. You worry about the content and making your content look great—we’ll handle the technical details.”

    As ever, sign up for the beta, and get ready to produce some eye-catching eBooks for for Kindle.


    Another great thing about eBooks — because you can carry thousands, you’re never stuck if you realize a book you’re reading isn’t great. I put new books to The Dennis Cooper Test, ie, if a book’s losing me, I’ll switch to a Dennis Cooper novel instead. Sentences like “Chris’s shock was so dense and complex that it collided with the world’s very different complexity, sort of like what happens when a very strong light hits a very big jewel” connect with me in a way even obviously good books can’t if they don’t have that ambiguous extra thing that makes them exceptional.

    The latest book failing the DC Test is Russel Bank’s Lost Memory of Skin. Which bugs me because I want to like it, but I can’t get through it. Before eBooks, I would have finished it. Instead I’m halfway through and probably won’t get farther. Which I think is great. It’s like a gift of time. I can put my mental finger on what’s missing from Lost Memory because I can switch to another book and be engrossed again. I’ve got a “what I want a book to do for me” point of immediate comparison. And why would I settle when I know what I could have? So I wait til I’m off the subway, get back on Kindle, go looking for the next book that might deliver that experience, stop time, do whatever really great books do for me. Today I brought We Are the Animals.

    Real quick: Why don’t I like Lost Memory of Skin? I want to. But it reads like the book/author is telling us the Internet is doing bad things to us. Like the book’s trying to make a point, talk right at us. I’d rather read Dennis Cooper because the voice comes from inside a head that’s convincingly rendered as having a problem. The Banks characters seem like people who have a problem — but some other guy is going to tell you about it. That’s too . . . essayistic? To pull from the top: Lost Memory of Skin is a really strong light. I’m looking for the strong light and the big jewel both.

    Tl;dr: eReaders are awesome because you can face off new books against your favorites. I just did it and the new Russel Banks lost.


    This post is a digression. We’re a platform focused on helping you create quality ebooks that you can distribute everywhere, but! I have seen much discussion recently about when enhanced ebooks work. Having produced 800 + enhanced titles, I wanted to weigh in — mostly on a personal level — to relate my particular feelings that I can no longer keep bottled up.

    When it comes to enhancements, book lovers like to say they work fine for non-fiction, but fiction’s off limits. Enhancements dumb down books, are destructive, spazzy, distracting. I think that’s the accepted argument. Dark secret — I don’t really get it.

    Enhancements can work fine in literature. In some cases they may even improve a book, which is the kind of statement that could get me banhammered in digital and real world book salons alike.

    It’s not conjecture though. Great books are being produced right now with enhancements. Such as . . . People Still Live In Cashtown Corners, by Tony Burgess. It’s a 201 page novel from ChiZine Publications, released in 2024. I read it on the Kindle App for iPad.

    The book tells the story of gas station clerk Bob Clark’s apparently unprovoked killing spree in rural Cashtown Corners, culminating with Clark barricaded in the home of a family he’s murdered. Sounds grim? It is! But it’s also smart, tricky, brainy, entrancing. I was hooked by the first two paragraphs, which read like Robbe-Grillet doing a Thomas Bernhard impression. I’m a sucker for Robbe Grillet and Bernhand so mashing them up? Mr. Burgess, where may I subscribe to your newsletter?

    I thought it was a plain text book—but it’s got a twist. Halfway through, I swiped from one page to the next and had a shock.  SPOILER: Burgess has embedded an image purporting to depict a crime scene from Clark’s rampage. The photos show grainy, real-life scenes that push into reality in a way I didn’t expect. The next few pages then shift without explanation to pictures of a crude World Trade Center art project one of Clark’s victims was building in school.

    The pictures expand the previously hermetic universe of the novel, forcing you to connect events real and imagined, staged and actual, drawing imaginary lines between crime scene photos we’ve seen on the Internet and TV, the perpetrators behind them, the victims in them. They make a strange book stranger but also stronger, like the suddenly illuminating digressions in a Chris Marker film.

    It’s art. Good art. Not emotional art. But art that did something to my brain I didn’t expect. I enjoyed it. I had an experience. I remember the experience more strongly than I remember reading the Family Fang, which I liked, but which was about people trying to create the kind of feeling Burgess actually inflicts on you in the eBook version of Cashtown.

    And I’d claim that these photographs wouldn’t work in a print version. I know I’d be able to tell by the change in the paper consistency and the glimpse of a darker line from an illustrated page that some kind of picture was coming. The element of surprise would be gone. And it’s the surprise and the shock and the smooth transition from text to image to image to image that makes your brain speed up while simultaneously trying to slow down and work out connections. Which creates vertigo. And tension. And a strange powerful sense of unease and displacement.

    That’s one example of a piece of excellently effective enhanced literature. There are more. There will be more. But for everyone who claims enhancements can’t work in literature, I say: Enhancements can work fine – you just aren’t reading enough books.


    Tl;dr: You might not like enhanced ebooks but there’s an awesome arty one that works with some creepy pictures. Also, Stone Arabia, the narrator wishes it had a video in it, at one point! DANA SPIOTTA WRITE ME!

    Top 5 Reasons for Working with Vook

    Happy February!

    We’ve successfully made it to the month of love, where new and old partnerships can continue to blossom. In the spirit of partnerships, I wanted to take a moment to outline the top five reasons you should work with us to light up your content and provide your audience with a powerful Vook multimedia experience:

    1.            We are the leader in enhanced content. Vook has published the most enhanced titles in the iBookstore and on the Amazon Kindle App. Our JFK app was #1 in the iPad Paid Book Apps upon its release, and we were one of the first enhanced eBook on iTunes through our partnership with Simon & Schuster.

    2.            We distribute to a wide range of platforms. Our titles are on iTunes, Kindle App, and the iBookstore. We are currently developing opportunities for a host of other platforms. All titles are turned around within weeks, delivered to market, and promoted to digital audiences, including Facebook and Twitter.

    3.            We provide scalable solutions. Our global network of professional film producers allow us to quickly turn around video and audio production. Content is then added to our original MotherVook software and edited together to create unmatched, rich content—bringing text to life!

    4.            We carefully promote all titles. Each title is positioned and named after we’ve researched what will make it marketable. We pick eye-catching cover art for increased marketability. Our careful account management team makes sure that our distribution partners are alerted to new titles and promotional opportunities.

    5.            Maximized Revenue. Take advantage of backlist titles and transform them into a brand new content experience to revitalize sales.

    If you have any questions or would like to get started in creating your very own Vook, please visit http://publish.vook.com/.

    It’s Official: Vook is on the Kindle!

    Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated our one year anniversary and took stock of how much has changed since our launch in October, 2024. Things have moved faster than we could have anticipated, and it seems like every day marks a new development.

    Today, we hit another great milestone with the release of our first title for the Amazon Kindle app, Anne Rice’s The Master of Rampling Gate. It took lots of hard work and dedication from the whole team at Vook, and we could not be more excited to be working with Amazon and sharing our content on this platform.

    One thing that hasn’t changed in the past year is our mission: to light up the world’s content and connect people around the stories and ideas they love. Each new distribution channel enables us to share more great stories with more people – and we are continually working to expand on to new platforms so that soon everyone will be able to share in this exciting (r)evolution of the written word.

    ePublishing Made Easy

    Sign Up for Vook

    *These fields are required.

    Powered by Salesforce CRM