Recently Jozef and I had been considering our Elf~Fin publishing options as the big 'pitching to publishers' phase is about to begin in 2009. We were speculating that we could bring it to market quicker if we were to digitally publish it page by page on a weekly basis rather than to wait until the entire first and second issues were ready (they run at 44 pages per issue). This is usually what a comic book publisher and a distributor such as Diamond would demand prior to going to solicitation and print. The downside to electronic publishing, however, is that we had no idea how to go about protecting our finished work or indeed what tools there were to accomplish this, as we did not want finished art pages to indiscriminately go out into cyperspace. Then, about two weeks ago, we got our answer when we stumbled across a software package that, in the first instance, is specifically geared to helping people create eBooks and make money by selling them online, but more importantly to us, offered the security protocols needed to give us some mental and emotional security about how to control our digital product.
At this point in the blog post, we're going to be completely transparent and mention that we want to promote this product to you on a commercial basis as well as a practical basis, as we think it is particularly relevant to our readership – many of whom are comics creators, authors and illustrators. If you decide that this software suits your needs after reading about it, we're going to ask that you click through this site to get to the nitty gritty information on how it works and then to go onward to buy it so that we can get a percentage of the sale, which will in turn help us get our comic book series out to you faster. Having said that, we are also asking you to trust us – we will ONLY promote books and products such as this one that we are convinced will help you market and/or protect your IP in the various comics, ebooks or information products you choose to launch now or in the future.
The software package is called eBookpro. As mentioned before, it is geared to people who want to create and release electronic books. We were convinced about its authenticity after reading all the promotional material and asking a whole bunch of questions to the Director of Business Development of the company that developed and now distribute the software whom I met recently in Sydney and who I've emailed several times over the last fortnight. What is important in all of this is that this product can be adapted for use in comics.
Here are the questions I posed to him from some of our professional colleagues in order to make sure the product was right for us at Black Mermaid™ as well as you.
1. I heard that the eBook Pro software has inbuilt protection so that if the ebook was distributed by a customer to a third-party in defiance of the purchasing agreeing and therefore be in breach of copyright then the originator of the ebook would be able to shut down that illegal copied file. Did I hear correctly and can you explain more?
Yes, you have the ability to choose how many times somebody can register your eBook. We default to two registrations in case somebody wants to put it on their laptop and computer. So then, let's say the customer sends it to a friend. The friend cannot register the book, therefore is unable to see it.
2. Can this software be applied to protect webcomics and/or comic book pages that are released digitally prior to print publication?
If you release them digitally through eBookpro then you are fine. Anything outside of eBook pro will not be secure. Even sending stuff to your publisher should be sent through eBookpro. You basically have complete control over who sees it.
3. Can your software apply to fiction product as well as non-fiction and information product?
Absolutely – any information that needs to be secure can be used with eBookpro.
4. Most creatives I know (including ourselves) use Macs. At the moment your promotional literature says that the "System Requirements are Windows 98SE, 2K, ME or XP" as well as Internet access. Will this software ever be available for Mac users?
Our Mac eBook Viewer is compatible on the following hardware: Intel or PowerPC processors.
Operating System Requirements: OSX 10.4x or newer.
Keep in mind it will be your customer [who will be reading/viewing the eBook] ... you will need to understand if they have Macs or not.
5. You say that the finished ebook product can be viewed on Macs provided they are as you said "Intel or PowerPC processors with an OSX 10.4x or newer operating system". But can I, for example, load your eBook Pro software onto my MacBook which has a Max OSX operating system 10.4.11 and actually use it to create my eBook or eComic?
Curently eBook Pro Business edition is Windows compatible software, although eBook Pro does have the ability to create both Windows and Mac compatible ebooks. Since you are a Mac User, the best solution if you have a newer Intel CPU based Mac is to either use Bootcamp on OSX Leopard or Parallel or VMWare Fusion to run your Windows applications.
You can read more about Bootcamp here: http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/bootcamp.html
To read more information about Parallels Virtual Desktop software: http://www.parallels.com/en/products/desktop/?from=button
To read more information about VMWare Fusion software: http://www.vmware.com/products/fusion/.
6. I won't be posting my graphic novel as an ebook, but as individual pages. Would this software protect that?
Absolutely. We have had engineers use the tool to send their work to other engineers or for proposals. They simply want to protect their intellectual property. It can be one page or hundreds.
There is also a viral system in eBookpro; you can prompt all the people that download the page to send it to their network and when a new person wants to see the work (opens eBookpro), they have to give their name and email address to see anything. So you would be building your list through viral networking using the software. And at the bottom of every page you can prompt people to buy your print comic or series.
7. So can you load the finished artwork (it could be in Photoshop or it could be handpainted and scanned in) onto eBookpro and then upload it via eBookpro so that people all over the world can read it but not download and potentially steal it?
Absolutely, AND they can send it to their friends/network to build the list of potential customers!
8. I would be posting the page to a comics press blog. Is it like some kind of watermark?
The product will not watermark the image; this will have to be done separately [OUR NOTES: this can apparently be achieved with PhotoShop].
To summarise, if you are selling your comic, you use eBookpro. If you want someone to download it and then in turn send it to their friends and so on, you use eBookpro. If you are sending the comic or intellectual property to another colleague or editor or whomever and you do not want anyone else seeing the comic except them, you use eBookpro.
For those [comic press blog] sites you could offer an option for them to download the whole series to date or the compilation of comics; and use eBookpro. Or on the authors website have a download using eBookpro. On the author page, you can write "You can see a variety of my work on my website, click here now and download some of my latest comics".
So if you are a publisher and are afraid that your customers will send your PDF product to all their friends and your future customers you have to get a copy of eBookpro. You do not have to spend your valuable time creating amazing works of art and literature for sale, only to have your works sent freely across the Internet robbing you of your living. Avoid this situation by getting a copy of eBookpro, Click here now!