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March 11, 2003 15:28 IST
For those who've written an epic, but can't find a publisher, help is at hand online

Blame it on Johannes Gutenberg. Ever since the man initiated printing in the thirteenth century, the world has been inundated with all kinds of books covering all possible topics. The publishing industry still seems to be stuck in the Gutenberg era though. Which is where the Internet comes in. Why bother going to a publisher when you can publish your own e-book, put it up and have hundreds read it with a couple of clicks?

For beginners

Get a book published is anything but easy. You should be sufficiently recognised by the publisher, for one, or have enough money to get it published yourself. Contacts are also important, as distributors and retail outlets are reluctant to display and sell the works of a neophyte.

On the other hand, a word processor, free plug-ins such as MS Reader and an Internet connection is all you need to publish an e-book. While you can start of creating your books in plain text or rich text format, there won't be much there in terms of functionality and readability. E-books can be engrossing only with more interactive elements such as tags and hyperlinks that allow for smoother navigation. That done, it's a simple issue of logging on and uploading it to an e-book site that allows you to publish your work.


As e-book technology is fast, and can be implemented without the need for pricey print jobs, a growing number of publishers and publishing services have emerged. In the past couple of years, traditional publishing houses are converting their lines of new releases into the electronic delivery format, including e-books. Some of them publish your work for a fee, while some do it for free but with some limitation. It is up to the author to choose between the two. With a little technical skill, you can avoid publishers completely and create your own e-book.

Simply download free publishing software such as Readerworks Standard, that helps you create e-books in MS reader format for use on both PCs and pocket PCs. If you want to publish your e-book in .pdf format, there's Gymnast, which converts text files to pdf, can be virtually read on any platform, and also supports hyperlinks and automatic generation of bookmarks from headings. Then, for books in HTML format, there's Sbook Builder.

Along with support for sound and graphics, there are other options that enable you to disallow printing or password protect your pages. If you have MS Word 2000 or 2002, then Word RMR is a simple, free plug-in from Microsoft that allows you to create MS Reader e-books with a single click.


Mobibook Publisher: Create e-books to be read on Windows CE or Palm OS.

Ebook Builder: Drag and drop HTML files from your hard drive to create an executable e-book.

Ebooks writer: Create self-extracting e-books from a single source file.

Keebook Creator: Collect and organise scattered documents or create an information rich book.

Until recently, Amazon and Barnes and Noble were the only online bookstores with access to e-books, at a price. The number of sites offering free downloads or online reading has grown since, but the issue of copyright has also crept in. While that gets sorted out, why not log on and e-publish your magnum opus?

Vidya Srinivasa Rao