Sunday, January 23, 2011

Using my Nook for short stories

I mentioned a month ago that I'd bought a Nook (hurray for credit card reward points!). I'm not going to go into a lot of the review kinds of details that you can easily find elsewhere. It's a good ereader for what I use it for, and I've been pleased with it.

One of the reasons I wanted to get an ereader was with the idea of reading the stories from places like Strange Horizons when I'm not at my computer--I could save computer time for writing and forums and such, and take those ezines with me to read when I couldn't be here at my computer. When I learned that the Nook has a basic web browser, I thought that'd be perfect. There wouldn't even be the hassle of converting files or anything.

Well...not quite. The basic web browser is a pain to use and not the least bit friendly for reading stories. So I had to convert the files after all. One way to do that is simply copy and paste into Open Office and safe the story as a pdf. That works, but I also got to discover the fun of Calibre to download and convert the web pages into epub format. Calibre downloads the rss feed and converts it into whatever format you want, but sometimes the rss has to be tweaked to work properly. So here are a few things I've discovered while playing around with this:

Calibre works great with Fantasy and Lightspeed. I have it scheduled to download the past week's updates every Monday morning. I had to tweak the format slightly for Fantasy's rss, because it was initially showing up with a black font on a dark background, but that was an easy fix. Abyss & Apex also worked great when I had Calibre convert its latest issue just the other day.

The rss for Beneath Ceaseless Skies only gives you the summaries of the stories, with links to the full text. There are fixes for that within Calibre, but BCS has each issue as an epub download already, so it's easier to just download that instead of using Calibre.

I'd have to play around with the recipe for downloading Clarkesworld some more to get that to work--the rss gave the pages with the audio as well, not a terrible thing but would be nice to get it to skip those pages. It also, this month, gave the entire texts (and audio pages) of the entire past year's worth of stories, because of the readers poll, which linked to them all. That'd actually be pretty cool for someone who hadn't had a chance to read it throughout the year...but it did make for a pretty big file. That wouldn't be a dilemma other months, of course. The biggest problem, though, was that the format didn't transfer very well, so I couldn't read the full lines. I think I could pretty easily fix that, but I'm thinking for now, at least, that for a zine that comes out with an issue once a month, it'd be better to just save and convert them manually.

Strange Horizons has no rss feed to subscribe to (that I know of), so I have to convert those manually. I'm pretty sure I've seen reports that a major upgrade is in the works for Strange Horizons' site, so I imagine that will be an option some point.

Some places I haven't taken a look at yet for, except to manually convert some myself, are Tor.com (I doubt they'd have an rss just for their fiction, and a full rss to their site would overwhelm me), Subterranean (also has an rss, but it's site-wide, it appears, not just the ezine), Chizine (which is going through a site redesign to be unveiled in April), and Ideomancer (has an rss, but that's next on my list for testing out).

2 comments:

clarkesworld said...

There are epub and mobi/kindle editions of Clarkesworld and Lightspeed. (I'm the ebook designer.)

Daniel Ausema said...

I knew that Lightspeed has that option, to purchase monthly issues. I didn't realize you offer it for Clarkesworld as well, though now that you mention it, I was able to find where.