Perilous adventures in the North Woods, lost Norman Rockwell paintings, life on a rural midwestern farm—we’ve converted all of these historical stories from print to eBook! We emphasize craft digital here at Bookmobile, and that includes our eBook conversion services. We create clean, high-quality eBook files that render across a variety of devices, and we provide excellent customer care. It’s also a lot of fun to see completed eBooks go live—we offer eBook distribution too!

Minnesota Historical Society Press (MNHS Press) began converting and distributing eBooks with Bookmobile in 2008. MNHS Press is the oldest publisher in Minnesota (they were founded in 1859!) and the largest historical society press in the country. From Pam McClanahan, the director,

A smart colleague of mine told me once that our best vendors in publishing are those that stay out ahead of the industry, always knowing more than us about trends, processes, and tools. Bookmobile is just that vendor, but one that serves that knowledge in kind, responsive customer service and a willingness to partner on new ideas despite their smarty-pants stature.

It has been exciting to see their eBook catalog grow, and we’re always looking forward to their next project, whether it’s digital-only eBook shorts for the MHS Express imprint or eBooks with embedded video.

Bookmobile recently converted the MNHS Press title Across the Deep Blue Sea: The Saga of Early Norwegian Immigrants, which describes the daring journey from Norway to Canada during the 1850s through the late 1860s. The PDF source file had images, tables, footnotes, and diacritical characters, so we wanted to make sure that these elements looked great in the reflowable eBook format on different devices. For this MNHS Press title, as with all of our eBooks, we took several key steps in our process to ensure a successful conversion:

  • Before conversion, we looked at the PDF source file and checked in with Robin Moir, the Digital Production Associate at MNHS Press, about how the design elements would best translate to both EPUB and MOBI files. (The EPUB file is for devices and software that are compatible with this file type, such as the iPad, Nook, and Adobe Digital Editions. The MOBI file is for the Kindle devices and apps.) There can be instances where print design elements need to be adapted to the eBook format, and we’re happy to provide solutions when this occurs. We enjoy working closely with our publishers throughout the conversion process so that we can go over special requests or questions.
  • After the base conversion of the EPUB file by our conversion partner, we did our comprehensive quality check on the Across the Deep Blue Sea eBook files. Our quality control is an important part of our process because we apply our knowledge of the best practices for eBook conversion and formatting. eReaders and apps can handle coding in different ways, so our quality control is essential for optimizing the eBook files on the most frequently used devices and software. We also resolve issues that can happen during the initial conversion from print format to eBook format.
  • We converted Across the Deep Blue Sea from EPUB file to MOBI file in-house, which allows for greater quality control of the Kindle file. Our Kindle files are carefully converted and tested, and we can easily make changes if needed. When we’re creating the MOBI file, we keep in mind what works best for the wide range of Kindle devices, from the legacy Kindle to the Kindle Fire.
  • During the quality control of this MNHS Press title, we went through our in-depth list for checking and adjusting the eBook files, which includes making sure that the foundational coding is set up correctly and cleanly; verifying that images are rendering clearly across devices (especially on the grayscale eInk eReaders where contrast can be an issue); confirming that the diacritical coding renders across devices and that no unsupported characters are present; and testing that the linked footnotes and table of contents, links to external website URLs, and device navigation features are all set up properly.
  • We viewed the eBook files of Across the Deep Blue Sea on the iPad, Kindle, Nook, and in Adobe Digital Editions so we could check the design layout on each device and software. We compare the basic formatting of the source file to the eBook files to make sure that the eBook is formatted accurately and that it renders well on the different devices and software.
  • Once the Across the Deep Blue Sea eBook files went through our check and were validated, we sent eBook proofs to MNHS Press so they could view the title. We recommend that our publishers do a line-by-line proofing on their end during the proofing rounds, because eBooks created from PDF source files that are made with different fonts and page layout software do not always result in a perfect conversion. Our conversion process and quality control check are careful and comprehensive; however, doing a line-by-line proofing is the only way to ensure a completely precise eBook conversion. (We do offer line-by-line proofing services for an additional fee.) Going through a proofing process gives our publishers the opportunity to request corrections if needed and to provide their valuable feedback on the eBook files.

After receiving proofs, MNHS Press approved the eBook files, and this title was ready for uploading to the vendors. We did a seamless upload to Amazon, the Apple iBooks Store, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo, and Overdrive through our distribution services. We loved seeing another piece of history become an eBook!

MNHS Press had a rush schedule, and we were able to do a fast turnaround for both conversion and distribution without minimizing quality. As Robin Moir at MNHS Press describes,

Working with Arna and the entire team at Bookmobile is a dream. They are always ready to work with us on any conversion customizations and to help us resolve any problems, all with aplomb under some difficult situations and within tight schedules. Professional, competent, thorough, friendly, and fair, Bookmobile is craft digital done right.

If you have questions about eBook conversion or distribution, or if you would like a quote, please contact Arna Wilkinson.