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With the high printing and distribution costs involved in

the self-publishing of books, there is another alternative that

is beginning to emerge and is worthy of investigation. That

alternative is virtual books. They are sometimes referred to as

electronic books or diskbased books.

Because of the ever-increasing use of computers in the home

for business and personal use, and  because of the costs

mentioned above, the writing and publishing of electronic books

is becoming more practical for many applications.

So, what is an electronic, or virtual book? A simple explanation

would be to say that an electronic book is a computer floppy disk

on which is contained a disk-reading program and a text file The

actual contents of the book). Depending on the type of

disk-reader used, the person reading the "book" can start at the

beginning, the middle, the end, or any other place, page,

chapter, section, etc.

Disk-reading programs are also called text organizers or

file viewers.

Depending, again, on the type and complexity of the disk-reading

program used, the author can present to the reader a table of

contents or a list of topics from which the reader can select,

with just a few keystrokes; and instantly access the desired


The slow alternative to reading a long text file without a good

file viewer is to scroll through the text from start to finish.

At best you can jump ahead or back one page of text at a time,

but you will have no capability to preselect a certain page,

word, line, topic, or any other unique location.

So how is it done? Easily! The book or other work is

composed on a text editor rather than a "full-blown" word

processor. As the book is being written, the author includes

special short commands that are "read" by the file viewer.

These hidden commands enable the person reading the book to

move around the book just as if he were reading a printed book.

Other commands allow the reader to pull up menus, access

help windows, answer questions, mark certain selections and

accomplish other tasks.

A variety of text organizers or file viewers, and   text

editors for composing the work, are available from computer

software dealers who distribute "share ware". Share ware is a

form of   software marketing whereby the user is allowed   to try

a program before buying it. These shareware programs are

copyrighted material and the user is obligated to pay for it if

he used it beyond a reasonable evaluation period. The cost of

"registering" or paying for these tie viewing and text editing

programs ranges from $8 to   $100.

This author used the $8 version of the IRIS hypertext file

viewer and the MS-DOS text editor already included with DOS

5.0. That's a total cost of $8.00 to get started because IRIS

cam be distributed with your electronic book "royalty free".

That means you may write an electronic book using IRIS as the

viewer; sell   the book at any price with IRIS included so that

it can be read, and not have to pay any royalty to the author

of IRIS. The "SEE" file viewer, while not having as many

features as IRIS, can   also be used royalty free.

Here's a few reasons why publishing electronic  books makes


1. Less expensive than conventional publishing. To get the

price of any printed book  below $1.00 you would have to have

five to ten thousand printed. The price of your test

electronic book can be less than  $10.00, counting the cost of

purchasing a   file viewer. After that, your only expense per

copy is the cost of the floppy disks. Mail order supply houses

sell them for as little as 19 cents apiece for 5.25" DSDD

disks in lots of 500 or 1000. If you only buy 100, the cost may

be 25 cents apiece.

2. You can edit or change the contents of your unsold books at

any time! New informs lion can be added or obsolete data can be

removed using the text editor. You would, of course, have to copy

the edited version of your work to the other disks.

3. Produce only the books you need: Assemble each book only

when an order  comes in for that book! It only takes 2 or

3 minutes. This also solves the editing  problem mentioned above.

By having only a "master" book, you only have to make

additions or deletions of text to one book.

4. If large quantities are needed for any reason, commercial disk

duplication companies can turn out large numbers of your book at

a very reasonable cost Still far less than conventional printing.

5. There are several disk-book libraries and publishers to help

you find a market for your book. Dealers of share ware and retail

programs are now including sections in their catalogs for

disk-based books.

6. Mailing costs are greatly reduced. Your book on a 5.25

inch disk can be mailed alone in a 6 x 9 inch envelope for one

test class stamp. It is usually more practical, however, to use a

protective disk mailer, and to include associated documents with

your disk. The disk mailer provides much more protection for your

disk-book, but raises the weight to the next postage unit.

A short list of text editors, tie viewers, and sources is

included below:

Text Organizers:

Black Magic




Text Editors:


Petit Plus




Two sources for file viewing and text editing programs are:

       Infopreneur Services

       3755 Avocado Blvd #110

       La Mesa, CA 91941

       Public Brand Software,

       PRO. Box 51315

       Indianapolis, IN 46251

This list of programs and sources is by no means all-inclusive

and are used as examples only. The author's use of particular

program is not a recommendation of one program over another.


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