This past week, we mentioned (http://www.callapple.org/2012/06/20/whats-where-in-the-apple-ii-is-returning/) the forthcoming re-release of William F. Luebbert’s popular Apple ][ book, What’s Where in the Apple in eBook format. Today we have further news and more accurate pricing schedules based on information we received from the publisher, Robert Tripp:
1. The price is going to be $19.95 but people who “pre-order” (as simple as pressing the “pre-order” button on the web site that sends us an e-mail) can get the book for $15.00. They will received an e-mail when the book is released and have ten days to complete the purchase through PayPal. No money until the book is released.
2. We have added a short-cut to the web site: www.eWWA.us where it stands for Electronic WWA. The web site now has Chapter 1 of the Guide, Page 2 of the Atlas and Page 3 of the Gazetteer as samples plus Luebbert’s original eight-page article from the August 1979 issue of Micro — The 6502 Journal has been converted and posted on the site. (Note: I have not fully proofread it yet so it may have some minor errors — to be corrected.)
3. The book will be published as an Adobe PDF that should be readable on every computer. The Adobe Reader supports a lot of useful functions such as highlighting, printing and searching.
Of course, reproducing a work which is more than 30 years old and has no original files that are available for conversion presents the reality that one must essentially start over on a project such as WWA. It is not an easy process even to merely scan the book and have it look good. This scanning process also is not enough for today’s discerning customer who wants a quality book for their eReader with complete searchable text and easy to read, clear pages.
The production generally must be thorough, inclusive of all items from the original and textually correct. This desire is the thing which drives the project in the manner with which it has been approached. Robert talks about this process and what went into the production of the new ebook in another email, saying ”
The “production process” is a bit messy. It starts with me scanning in all of the pages from the Blue Edition which is spiral bound and opens flat without destroying pages. These are then uploaded my DropBox where they are picked up by a company in India that specializes in text conversion. They to the optical character recognition — which is fairly easy — but also do the quite difficult proofreading to find OCR errors and to make sure that the electronic text matches the originals from the scanned jpegs.
That is not too difficult for the straight text portions of the 150 page Guide, but is a real challenge for the Atlas and Gazetteer. Those sections were not actually done as spreadsheets in the original, but rather tables that used special symbols to delineate the fields: (1234~5678) for decimal location, [name] for names, \PB\ for type. These all must be removed. Also, the type used was intended to mimic a line printer and is not the best thing for OCR. A lot of mistakes occur such as ‘O’ for ‘0’, ‘S’ for ‘$’, several different substitutions for the ‘~’ used to separate numbers, etc. After errors are corrected, things need to be moved into columns in an Excel spreadsheet. After all of that, there is more proofreading.
The final major task is that the figures and tables in the Guide were much too small and difficult to read in the printed copies. These do not OCR well. We have taken to enlarging the .jpg files before the OCR and that helps some, but it would almost be easier to retype them. Once the figures and tables are done and carefully checked, we need to put everything back together and then generate PDFs.
According to Robert, the plan is to release the new eBook version of WWA on or before 1 September 2012.