How to Read an Electronic Book

When most people think of electronic books, they think of trillion-dollar companies and mobile tablet devices. It might surprise you to know the electronic book was invented long before our modern notions of e-commerce and mobile devices became popular. For example, the epub can trace its lineage back to 1999, when the OEB was first established. This happened only six years after the PDF format was first released.

Epub is the format I use for all of my works. It is not proprietary. It is easy to author and distribute and it is easy to read. I also make my books available to my readers without DRM, so you can install and read them on the device of your choice. All my electronic books validate to the epub3 standard before they are made available for distribution, so they should function identically on any device that can read them.

What is an ePUB?

An epub format book or “ebook” is technically a web site (made up of html pages, css styles and web-compatible images) contained in a specially-formatted zip file. You could extract the archive and open the book with your web browser if you prefer, but there is an easier way.

The best way to think about electronic books is that the epub (a file with an extension of .epub) is just a document. You use an e-reader application to open it in much the same way you open a .doc file with Microsoft Word or a PDF file with Adobe Acrobat.

The good news is there are numerous high-quality free e-reader applications available on both mobile devices and on PCs. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, everything is pretty much done for you. The Apple Books app uses epub as its native format. If it doesn’t open the book for you right away, just e-mail it to yourself. When you tap and hold on the attached book icon, you should have the option to share it to Apple Books.

On Android devices, you can use either the FBreader or the Moon+ Reader apps. Both are quite popular and give you many options for organizing your digital library. The Google Books App also uses epub as its native format.

On PCs (Linux, Mac or Windows), you can use the Calibre application. Once installed, Calibre will make all your .epub files double-clickable which will open them in a desktop e-reader. The application also has a multitude of other functions which will make your electronic books much easier to manage.

If you have a Kobo or Nook device, you can read epub format books on them as well.

If you have a Kindle device, you can read epub format electronic books on it. PC World has a helpful guide. Note that importing your epub to Kindle will convert it to a proprietary format which you likely won’t be able to convert back, so be sure keep a copy of the original.

My store has a cloud-based e-reader service called Bitbook, where you can read ebooks purchased from Getabook.Today without having to download or import them to a local e-reader application. For most titles, the downloadable epub and the Bitbook edition are delivered together, so you have the choice.

For the record, as copyright holder to any epub distributed by my bookstore at getabook.today, you have my permission to make copies of books acquired from my store for personal use and to install or import those books to the device or devices of your choice. Why, you even have permission to share my books with your friends and family! (within reason, of course). As always, if you have questions, use the link above to e-mail. Black out.

Blogroll Update

I’ve added a “Tech” section to the Blogroll, and included the inestimable Emacs Org Mode. The Tech sites are a little more permanent than the Sites of the Day.

There’s a new recommended book and I’ve instituted a policy of no longer linking to Amazon for book recommendations. Authors: Build your own web sites. Put your book on your own site where you can protect it.

In case you are wondering, I maintain a blogroll. It’s where I link to other interesting sites on the web. Not social media posts. Not big tech’s gigantic piles of debris. The web. Where we all have our own sites and we link to each other because that’s how you make “the web” and not an endless river of diseased #(%&*@%.

Starships Universe Officers Club

How do you join the Officers Club? Simple. Use the comment area to respond to this post with your review of any of the sixteen Starships Universe books available on Getabook.today. Selected reviews will be posted on book pages and linked to your listing in our new Officer’s Club Headquarters. Certain quotes just might end up in one of our upcoming video trailers.

In your review, please include your e-mail in the appropriate field (it won’t be published publicly), the name of the book and your rating from one to five. Decimal values are acceptable.

The only requirements are you have to be a subscriber and you can’t quote anything you’ve posted about the book elsewhere on the Internet. You are also granting me perpetual and universal permission to publicly perform, publish and display your reviews.

What do you get? Glad you asked! You get to choose your branch of service: Fleet or Marine. You get to choose which faction you want to join: Terran, Proximan, Sarn, Yersian, Kraken or Heretic. Officers will be issued a rank. Each review earns you a battle star. The more books you purchase, the more awards and promotions you’ll receive. When you reach a command rank, you get your own ship. Higher ranks get more powerful ships.

Everything you receive will be displayed for all to see on the Officers Club Headquarters. You’ll even get your own unique link so you can show off elsewhere on the web.

Rank has its privileges. Black out.

The Home Space Station

It was a lot of work, but it was both worth it and necessary. I’ve consolidated all our most vital operations to our own land, as it were, so we can have a little more control over the quality of the product we’re putting out there.

The Internet has changed quite a bit since I got started. Keeping in touch with readers is challenging, but at the same time it is easier than it was all those years ago. The good news is we are no longer dependent on outside services for our vital communications. I like to think of it as one less point of potential failure. In order for us to grow our audience and invite more subscribers, we have to be consistent. This is one of the steps we had to take to make that happen.

I have five primary commercial web sites now: One for the Starships series, one for the Ironjammers, one for the bookstore, one for the studio and the fifth one for Bitbook. There are other ancillary pages, but those are the main points of entry. The Committee is equally associated with each, which is why I’ve added all of the sites to their own section on my links page.

I have several other publishing projects I’ve completed over the years which are no longer being actively updated. These include the First Kiss Romances, the Incredible Untold Story of Sailor Moon, my Kings and Conquests LitRPG series, the Million Dollar Artist™ series and so on. The books will still be available in the store, but they aren’t going to have their own “sites” per se because we’re not actively pursuing any ongoing new titles currently. This may change, of course, but for now the two major initiatives are the Starships Universe military science fiction series and the Ironjammers fantasy adventure series.

It wasn’t all that long ago I had separate pen names for all these books. The logistics involved in keeping them all organized were overwhelming. Don’t ever do that to yourself if you’re an author.

The thing I’m most excited about is Bitbook, because it is where I can fulfill all the plans I had for the Library-Tron and still make entire novel-length titles available for purchase. I will publish my first experimental title there soon. I think it will be a lot of fun.

I will also be launching an Ironjammers newsletter soon, so I can keep readers up to date on what’s happening with my fantasy series. Believe it or not, my fantasy characters have been around a lot longer than my sci-fi crews. Those books will come together quick, so don’t miss out.

Head over to my links section (it’s in the menu above) and take a look at what’s new. I’ll be updating much more frequently now that I’ve got everything semi-organized in one place. Black out.

Starships at War Audiobooks

To celebrate the release of the upcoming sixth novel in the Starships at War series, one of our top voice talents along with a couple of really talented cover artists are planning some major upgrades to the Starships universe. We’d like to invite you to be a part of it!

One of the most talented people in my studio is the man we call “The Big Giant Voice.” Steven and I have been talking about doing audiobooks for years and we think the time has come to take the adventures of Jason Hunter and the starship Argent into your headphones and cars. Here is his performance of the Strike Battleship Argent intro:

And here is chapter one of Strike Battleship Argent, the audiobook:

Strike Battleship Argent is the longest book in the series so far. It will clock in at just over nine hours. Retail price from my store (in super-premium crystal clear audio) will be somewhere between $20 and $30. Titles like Battle Force will be somewhere between $6 and $12 for the audio version. The new audiobooks will eventually find their way to retail services like Audible, but there may be a considerable wait. In the meantime, I plan to make them available on Bitbook along with a downloadable version. As always, my books on my store will never have DRM in any format.

Which series you think we should adapt as an audiobook first? Should we do the Starships at War series, or Starship Expeditionary Fleet? If I promise you a big discount (and some free gifts), would you be interested in a pre-order?

Tell me what you think in the comments or send me an e-mail!

Black out.

Bloodwing Sneak Preview Chapter

Pre-Order Destroy All Starships Book Two!
Coming to the Bookstore on July 20th!

 

Manassas System Conveyance Station
Planet Five Orbital Track
Stable Asteroid Lunar Six One

Alert klaxons screamed in scarlet-tinged corridors. Crew members with official duties ran this way and that, but there was nowhere to hide. The Manassas Conveyance Station orbited a fairly stationary asteroid near the Gitairn Frontier designated as Lunar Six One. The closest Skywatch facility was in-system more than two billion miles away.

“Inform those ships this is a civilian facility!”

“They’re jamming all the frequencies, administrator, I–!”

Jarlen Colvert stood before the utilitarian SRS display in MCD ComSat and stared wordlessly at the impossibly dense mass of inbound contacts. None of them registered cleanly. All his relatively simple scanner bank could do was make its best guess as to what it was seeing. It was designed to perform rudimentary spacelane traffic control for freighters and supply ships. It was by no means military-grade equipment. The result was a red cloud of tracking data that seeped forward, reaching for the tiny orbital facility with menacing fingers. The automated systems dutifully switched to the perimeter visual pickups when the inbounds broke 100,000 miles.

An icy certainty filled the communications center. Even the technician seated at the transmission console rose and slipped the headphones off her ears at the sight filling the screen. They were approaching at impossible speeds. Hundreds of fighters with at least a dozen cruiser-class vessels behind them.

“What do we do?! What do we DO?!” Jarlen could hear the young woman’s ragged screaming voice, but his own breathing was paralyzed. The cold inevitability of the sight before him was more than his merely human mind could process.

The screen went white. A violent implosion filled the facility with superheated disruptor reactions. There was a brief instant of shrieking and boiling flesh. The central section of the conveyance station tumbled out of orbit, trailing hard radiation, atmosphere and bodies.

At least three squadrons of Sarn Bloodwing fighters overflew the destruction, veering in several directions as new targets presented themselves. Two minutes later the largest remaining intact section came spiraling out of space and impacted the Lunar Sixty One asteroid surface at a relative velocity of 18,000 miles per hour. The resulting explosion barely registered against the apocalypse in the sky. Pieces of the station re-achieved escape velocity and scattered into space. Others skipped and bounced for miles.

As far as the rest of the sector was concerned, the brutal surprise attack took place without a sound. Humanity’s enemies had planned far in advance. The Imperial battle formation fielded no fewer than two cruisers equipped specifically for electronic warfare. With the power levels behind the counter-transmission waves being directed at the Alliance facility, there was no way to broadcast anything beyond a range of a few miles. Even the disaster buoys launched from the station were torn out of space the moment they broke free of their launch boosters.

Fighters set upon cargo shuttles like a starving pack of wild dogs. Anti-ship missiles impacted the lumbering boxy spacecraft, setting off violent explosions that filled space with strobing afterimages. Wave after wave of disruptor fire tore through station modules like tracer fire through layers of paper napkins. The local comnet was jammed with overlapping barked orders, screams and crackling static. Finally the main antenna vanished as four simultaneous concussion explosions engulfed it. The comm traffic suddenly cut off, like a windpipe being closed for good.

The first scale in command of the task force grinned wickedly as his enormous fighter formations savaged the defenseless station. Secondaries popped off in drifting hull structures as missile impacts flashed and burned along the remaining sections of the orbital depot. A police pinnace ran for the far side of the two-thousand-mile-wide asteroid. The four fighters pursuing it didn’t have to fire a shot. The security pilot swerved too close to the asteroid’s surface. Gravimetric feedback began to overload his drive field. He tried to make a break for open space, but it was far too late for such a small ship. Lightning briefly arced between surface and ship until it vanished in a white flash.

The outpost’s ground facilities were better defended than the orbiting station. They had rudimentary radiation and magnetic shielding due to their more advanced power systems. They survived the first bombardment. They almost survived the second. White-hot lances of disruptor energy rained down across the surface like the wrath of Zeus. Chunks of superheated rock tumbled into space trailing white and blue plasma. A storm of static electric energy formed over the target as the Sarn weapons ionized everything in a radius of a thousand miles. Then a series of nuclear detonations pounded the outpost. Tectonic ruptures formed in all directions.

The other Imperial cruisers joined in. Over the course of some twenty minutes of unrelenting space to surface bombardment the ground emplacement was burned into a six-hundred-foot-deep magma-filled crater along with one hundred forty-seven civilian personnel, a frigate-class starship hull, two fusion reactors and a disaster buoy launcher.

There were eleven human witnesses to the horror that followed. A spherical shape loomed in space over the remains of the ground station. There was no strategic purpose for its presence. There was no enemy for it to engage. It was being utilized to send humanity a message. The Kraken world burner activated its primary weapon. It ignited space again and again. Fusion explosions shattered half-mile-deep slabs of solid iron under the asteroid’s surface, turning them into clouds of radioactive fire. Thirteen minutes later there was nothing left of Lunar Six One except a trail of wreckage and unremarkable ores.

As the raider formation set course for its next objective, the first scale ordered his ships to jettison thousands of tons of uranium and thorium waste over the attack site. A plasma burst from one of his ship’s weapons ignited the cloud of specially-prepared energetic particles, creating a field of radioactive fire. It was a navigational hazard that would take weeks to extinguish and decontaminate. What was left behind would be unrecognizable as the work of an intelligent species. It was the space equivalent of salting the Earth and contaminating the water supply with dead bodies and disease.

The last distress buoy was pulverized by a Sarn fighter seventy thousand miles from the burning cloud.

It would be more than a month before the true nature of what had happened to the Lunar Six One facility was determined.

Pre-Order Destroy All Starships Book Two!
Coming to the Bookstore on July 20th!

 

Starships at War Star Map

Sometimes it helps to know where the action is taking place in addition to when. Believe it or not, I’ve been keeping track of physical locations using a hyperlinked text map in Emacs. (Yes, General Cornelius Hunter is partially based on me. I admit it.)

It might sound strange, but it is possible to navigate from one star system to the next by simply clicking on each hyperlink. The text of each story still recounts the events that take place at each location, but with a “big picture” map, it becomes a lot easier to see the strategic situation.

When this map is updated for Destroy All Starships, I’ll be adding strategic overlays for the Core Alliance, the Sarn Star Empire and the mystery faction based somewhere beyond Proxima. I think it will help readers follow the overall conflict much more easily and I also think it will make the story more entertaining.

If you want to keep up with the Second Praetorian War, subscribe to my mailing list. The link is in the menu above. This is only the beginning!