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What Do Ancient Book-Makers, 2 Pixar Alums, and E-Book Publishing Have in Common?

By Harriet Staff

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Vellum! That’s right poetry peeps, there’s a new game in town. Pixar Alums Brad West and Brad Andalman have teamed up to launch (like, today!) a new, Macintosh-based App to help authors and publishers craft “pixel perfect e-books.” It’s called Vellum. TechCrunch weighs in:

Vellum is an app for the Mac developed by a team led by two Pixar software veterans that are trying to make the process of creating ebooks less painful. The app allows authors to publish ebooks on Apple’s iBookstore, Amazon Kindle and Nook devices, but the advances here are in how the app enables live previews and fine-tuning.

Ebook creation is an awful experience. The Kindle process is especially poor, with dozens of interlocking parts that must be juggled in order to convert, format, tweak and publish a book. And even then, authors are largely taking a stab in the dark as to how their books will look when they’re live on the store.

Apple took some steps to make this process easier with iBooks Author, but I’ve spoken to some folks who have published there and even its tools have their quirks. And it’s not even close to being cross-platform friendly. Once you’ve gotten a project to look how you’d like it to there, you have to do it all over again if you want to publish on Kindle or Nook or any other platform.

And, after all of the massaging through the laborious multiple-tool process, authors are often left with a product that looks fairly boring and generic. Well-crafted books with gorgeous fonts, nicely presented chapter and header formatting and a highly customized feel are too often the sole purview of publishers with teams of formatting experts.

Those are the issues that spurred Vellum’s Brad West and Brad Andalman to look into creating a tool to help authors get the same kind of access to great book design as major publishers.

“Authors care about how a book looks,” says West, but he notes, “when a book is self published, you can tell. If they had the tools, [authors] would want to make better looking books…the barrier is the tools. Vellum tries to address that.”

Learn more, ye publishers, at TechCrunch.

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, December 12th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.