Cover of The Nantucket E-Book Platform

The Nantucket E-Book Platform

A Better Way to Read Online

By Nicholas Bernhard

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Nantucket E-Book Platform

A Better Way to Read Online

By Nicholas Bernhard

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AUDIOBOOK CONTENTS

The Nantucket E-Book Platform

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A BETTER E-BOOK

This is an e-book. More specifically, this is a Nantucket E-Book™. ‘Nantucket E-Books™’ refers to the document structure, stylesheet, and interactivity that make this kind of e-book unique.

- This e-book can be opened and read using any modern browser, and is easy-to-read on desktop or mobile.

- This e-book is free of any DRM (Digital Restrictions Management).

- It has interactive features, including note-taking, dark mode, bookmarking, and favoriting.

- It can be integrated with any audio book editions.

- Anyone, including you, can make one, without any special software.

BORN OF FRUSTRATION

The idea for Nantucket came as I reflected on the creation of my first novel, November in America. I found the process of making the e-book for November in America deeply unsatisfying, and I promised myself I’d find a better way.

The following year, I began writing short stories, and went back to school to learn web development. I realized I could use what I was learning to make an e-book that looked exactly the way I wanted it to. In October, 2018, I live-streamed a reading of my short story Then A Skeleton Popped Out, and let people follow along with an e-book that I designed for the occasion.

In the months since, I’ve kept improving the e-book, and tried to articulate what I want from an e-book as a writer.

First, I wanted an e-book that would work in a browser. I already use web browsers for the majority of my computer work, why should I need a special app, let alone a special device, to read a book?

Second, my e-book would use infinite scrolling. Most e-readers offer this option, but they will often default to making the e-book look like a book, with pages on the left and right, or one page at a time. This always results in paragraphs being cut off at weird places.

When I was writing November in America, I had a clear idea for how the climactic struggle between the coal miners and the Colorado state militia would read on the page. There would be a moment when the brutish militia captain is overcome with rage, which in the confusion of the protest leads to horrific consequences. I wanted to convey the dread of realizing what’s about to happen, and knowing it’s too late to stop it. There would be no turning back from that point.

With a Kindle® e-book, I found it was impossible to have this moment read the same on different screen sizes. The page layout could not be guaranteed, sometimes spoiling the effect. With infinite scrolling, I could avoid that problem entirely.

Third, my e-book would, if available, include the audiobook. If I read one part of a book at night, and listen to the next chapter in my car as I commute to work, I should be able to do so without loading separate apps.

The most important decision came later: a way to convert the text into an HTML document automatically. Thanks to a special markup language I wrote called Shanty™, and a parsing program to read the markup, I could produce a mobile-responsive e-book in a matter of seconds.

The result of these labors is a platform, named for the island where Captain Ahab’s ship, the Pequod, began its final voyage. It’s a platform that gives me, as a writer, maximum freedom to publish e-books exactly the way I want them, when I want to, while giving readers a superior reading experience. I really think you’ll like it, and all I ask is that you offer your feedback for making it better.

READ ANYWHERE

EPUB and MOBI e-books can look quite clean, and have some neat features, but need special programs and/or devices to work. You’d better have a Nook or a Kindle®, or a special app on your smartphone.

On the other side, Project Gutenberg’s e-books, in HTML and Plain Text, can be opened on any computer. Unfortunately, most of them were formatted for a pre-mobile world, where Times New Roman and white backgrounds reigned o’er all:

Illustration for The Nantucket E-Book Platform

Nantucket E-Books are better on both counts: they offer a clean reading experience, whether you’re on a laptop, a desktop, a tablet, or a smartphone. No special apps or e-readers required. Your browser is the e-reader.

ILLUSTRATIONS

Any illustration can be focused by clicking or tapping on it, which will reveal a caption, and, if available, information on the illustrator.

Illustration for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, showing Alice meeting the Caterpillar

INTERACTIVE FEATURES

All the interactive features for Nantucket E-Books™ are in the menu. If you’re on a desktop, or a mobile device in landscape mode, the menu button should be in the top-left corner. If you’re on a mobile device in portrait mode, the menu button will be on the bottom of the screen. To open the menu, just tap the button.

Table of Contents

Longer Nantucket E-Books™ will have a table of contents at the beginning. If you don’t want to go all the way back to the top of the page, you can access the table of contents in the menu.

The Table of Contents icon for a Nantucket E-Book

Longer books have a table of contents at the top, or you can open a full-screen table of contents in the menu.

Illustration for The Nantucket E-Book Platform

From the table of contents, you can see a list of all images and chapters in the e-book.

Note-Taking

You can turn on note-taking mode by clicking or tapping the notes icon in the menu…

Notes icon for a Nantucket e-book

This will append a text field to each paragraph in the e-book, where you can write notes. To save your notes, click or tap the notes icon again. This will also hide the note fields.

Any notes you take are held in your browswer’s local storage, not on a server. Unlike notes in Kindle® e-books, which can be seen by Amazon, you have total control over your Nantucket E-Book™ notes on your device1.

At the end of this e-book, there is a button allowing you to compile and copy all your notes to the clipboard, where you can paste them into a text document. This is especially helpful for students, who may begin writing a book report by reviewing all the notes taken while reading.

You can also import and export notes to and from e-books.

Dark Mode

If you want to read a book in dark mode, just click on the lightbulb button in the menu…

Lightbulb icon for a Nantucket e-book

… and you’ll be reading white text on a black background.

Illustration for The Nantucket E-Book Platform

Audiobooks

Audiobooks are one of the quickest ways to improve your quality of life. When I first began planning the Nantucket E-Book, in a web development class at University of Denver, I tore through audiobooks during the long commutes.

From the beginning, I knew I wanted audiobooks to be integrated seamlessly into the e-book experience. For me, audiobooks are simply another way of reading.

If a Nantucket E-Book™ includes an audiobook, as this one does, you can open it by clicking the cassette tape button in the menu.

The cassette icon used in Nantucket E-Books with audiobook integration.

If an audiobook is spread out over several files, these files can be accessed in a menu in the audio section.

Just as the e-book can be bookmarked, your place in the audiobook is also bookmarked. Any time you pause the audio, or exit the audio player, the Nantucket e-book will save your spot for when you come back.

DOWNLOADING

Nantucket E-Books™ may be downloaded for offline reading, by hitting a button at the end of the book. This will download the entire e-book as a compressed folder. Once the folder is extracted, everything works, just as it did online.

MONETIZATION

Some authors will want to include a link to a website where readers can support their work. Authors are free to include such a link at the end of their e-book. Don’t forget to support independent authors!

If you receive donations from a platform like Patreon or Ko-Fi, you can list all of your supporters at the end of your work.

A NEW VOYAGE

This is an e-book. More specifically, this e-book represents a giant leap in the e-reader experience. It works in the browser, whehter you’re on a smartphone, a tablet, or a desktop. It has interactive features that respect user privacy. Audiobooks are built-in. You can write one anywhere, on your terms.

This is a Nantucket E-Book™, and it’s a better way to read online.

SUPPORT MY WORK ON PATREON

This Nantucket E-Book is the result of many hours of hard work, to provide you with an online reading experience that’s a pleasure, not a chore. If you appreciated it, please consider supporting me on Patreon.

If you liked this particular e-book, and would like to support my work as an author, please visit patreon.com/ndhfilms.

I am always looking for ways to improve this technology, and your support will help me continue to do so.

TEXT © Nicholas Bernhard
CC-BY-SA 4.0

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CREDITS

JAVASCRIPT DISABLED

Nantucket E-Books make use of the script ahab.js for their interactive features. If you have JavaScript disabled, the following features will not work: dark mode, bookmarking, note-taking, copying notes to clipboard, downloading this e-book with notes, text re-sizing, full-screen illustrations, interactive tables-of-contents, and the audio player interface.

If this e-book includes an audiobook edition, links to the audiobook files will be displayed in a list. A special link will be displayed for downloading the e-book without any associated notes.

FOOTNOTES

1 In 2009, Amazon digitally removed copies of a novel from people’s Kindles, using a back door built into the software. The novel in question was 1984, by George Orwell. In the case of Amazon, readers get convenience at the expense of your privacy. A Nantucket E-Book™ lets you keep both. Incidentally, this aside serves as a demonstration of how Nantucket E-Books™ support footnotes.

This e-reader was developed by Nicholas Bernhard, © 2020 - 2022 Nantucket E-Books™ LLC. Nantucket E-Books™ is built on free software, which means it respects the freedom of the writers and readers using it. For more information, check out the software license page, or e-mail me at njb@nantucketebooks.com.