Version 4.1 of Nantucket E-Books Released

by NJB // // Broomfield, CO

© 2023 Nantucket E-Books LLC

CC-BY-SA 4.0

Version 4.1 of Nantucket E-Books has been released. This update includes improvements to the Shanty markup language, several bug fixes, and improved styling. After a busy month that included publishing a novel, preparing a paperback edition, and publishing a new issue of Quarter Up, I decided I had time to work on an update to the platform.

Updates to Shanty and Gam.js: I have added two common bits of shorthand: two dashes (--) will now create an em dash (), and three asterisks will create a thematic break, as it does in Markdown. Four asterisks will still work.

The biggest update to Shanty is support for looping MP4s as cover images. If you want to use an MP4 for a cover, enter @@COVERVID [filename] instead of @@COVERIMG [filename]. This will be a big help for those who want moving covers, since GIF files can often be excessively large.

These updates have been added to the Shanty markup manual.

Updates to Ahab: The interactivity script for Nantucket E-Books will now add a label for the drop-down menu in the audiobook player. This is a small improvement for accessibility.

Performance improvements: the script tag will now use the “defer” attribute, and the bundled fonts now include “font-display:swap”. Both are recommended by performance-testing web applications such as Lighthouse.

Bug fixes: @@END will now be styled properly, and alt text for flippable images should invert correctly.

All updates to the platform may be reviewed at


Today’s biggest update is not found in the e-books, but in the platform itself. One of my goals has been a better way of updating the software in the e-books. When I fix a bug, or have a new interactive feature, how can I easily edit dozens of e-books at once?

The Version 4 update was actually a prelude to this change. Beginning with Ver. 4, I stopped putting version numbers in the file names for Ahab and the stylesheet. This meant that I could swap out those files in an e-books folder, without needing to edit the HTML file to point to new scripts and stylesheets. With that in place, I just needed to find a script that would let me go through each e-book and swap out the files.

I’m pleased to say I’ve found part of the solution. Amin Hollon, who runs the server in the Fediverse, wrote up a simple shell script that will run through the e-books folder on the site and copy over the necessary files. It was quite exciting to update four-dozen e-books with a single shell command. Many thanks to Amin, who is a talented guy all-around.

The next problem to tackle will be updating the downloadable ZIP folders for e-books. To some extent, it may have to be accepted that the ZIP folders won’t always be running the latest scripts and stylesheets. I plan to update ZIP folders on some kind of rotating schedule, maybe a few each day.

Thank-You To My New Followers and Patrons

Two days ago, I received a large number of new followers on Mastodon. I also received a very generous donation on Liberapay, and a new patron there as well. This means a lot to me, and I want to thank all of my new followers. I am excited to keep you updated on doing what I love: bringing people the best e-books on the planet.

I would encourage you to support my work by becoming a patron on Liberapay.

That’s all for now, please e-mail me a comment using the tool below with your thoughts.

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