The behind-the-scenes story of an experimental Chinese cookbook

My company just released a new “In 30 Minutes” guide, titled Easy Chinese Recipes In 30 Minutes. I’d like to share a little behind-the-scenes news about the experimental Chinese cookbook, which is special in several regards:

  • It’s the first cookbook we’ve ever released
  • The author, Shiao-jang Kung, rose to the challenge of creating authentic recipes that contain ingredients you can get in any large supermarket. The recipes include Sesame Cucumbers/涼拌小黃瓜, Soy-Flavored Fried Tofu/香煎豆腐/香煎豆腐 (includes video), Fried Rice/炒飯 (healthy recipe – limited oil and no soy sauce!), “Almost” Three Cups Chicken/“差不多”的三杯雞, and more.
  • It incorporates video and an app-like user experience
  • It only costs 99 cents (!)

Our experimental Chinese cookbook contains lots of easy Chinese RecipesThe inclusion of video and other app-like features is something that has been talked about for years in the industry, but it has been very hard to implement for the Kindle, Nook, and Android tablets. However, Apple has created production tools that let authors incorporate video, photo slideshows, and other elements (see iBooks Author Review: Video ebooks and intriguing possibilities on the iPad). I decided to apply these elements to our experimental Chinese cookbook.

Limitations of Apple’s ebook authoring tool

If it proves successful, I will look into creating a Kindle version … but the lack of production tools and uncertain support for features such as video will be hurdles. This gets into the “walled garden” problem that is cropping up for sophisticated ebook technologies. For a basic ebook that uses just text, photos, and links, Scrivener has served me well. I just create the ebook, and then export to epub (iPad and Android tablets), .mobi (Kindle), PDF, paperback, and other formats.

Because Apple’s production tools do not support export to non-Apple formats or the ePub standard, that limits the distribution of the title. I am sure the smart people at Amazon are looking into enabling video support for .mobi ebooks, but if I have to use another product tool to create it, that will lead to all kinds of production headaches. I will basically have to build each title multiple times in different production tools, and make sure that edits in one manuscript are applied to the other.

To learn more about the experimental Chinese cookbook and download a copy for your iPad, iPad Air, or iPad mini, check out the product website for Easy Chinese Recipes In 30 Minutes.

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One thought on “The behind-the-scenes story of an experimental Chinese cookbook

  1. I’m looking forward to purchasing this !!!! Red is the perfect color for the digital cover…Have also followed your article on the Boston Olympics bid, as much as I’d like to be sitting in the Velodrome
    watching the games, the mention of the possible enormous debt in its wake, plus distraction from more pressing issues such as education & crime prevention was sobering ! Can you write a follow article on the bid ?! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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