Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Jul 2012

FOA 2012: Print and Kindle Version Updates

Hey folks. I know many people are anxiously awaiting the print and Kindle versions of Football Outsiders Almanac 2012. I wanted to give you all an update on where those stand. One of them is in a lot better shape than the other.

We're having some sort of weird technical issue with Createspace regarding "transparency" in the PDF we submitted for the print version of FOA 2012, and that is holding up the print availability. We're trying to get to the bottom of this ASAP, and hopefully the print book will be on sale by the end of the week.

The Kindle version, on the other hand, is in quite a bit of trouble. We thought we were going to be able to pull this off, but it's looking very doubtful.

In order to create a Kindle version of the book, we have to transfer the file from one application to another four different times, and then do a ton of text editing on top of that to make it look reasonable. The biggest problem is that it has to go to .epub format before it goes to Kindle format, but the .epub editor we have is astonishingly non-user friendly, requiring us to re-format anything that gets moved around. If someone out there knows a really good .epub editor that doesn't automatically turn any moved text into a style that matches the location it was moved to, we would love to hear about it.

To show you all the problem we're having, here are three different downloads of the Dallas chapter. One is the conventional sample in PDF format. One is in .mobi format, for Kindle. One is in .epub format, which doesn't work on Kindle but does work on other e-readers, apparently.

The problem is that this is the best we can do, and this took two hours. To do just the team chapters -- not the college stuff, not the player comments, which both have tons of tables -- would thus take us 60 or so hours of work.

We would love to have those of you with e-readers download these files and tell us what you think of them in the comments. But we're stuck right now with the general feeling that if this is the best we can do, and it might take more than another 100 hours of work including player comments and college chapters, it simply isn't worth it. We would need to raise the price of the Kindle version, probably so it was higher than the actual printed version.

As much as we want to play with other things, the PDF format might be the best format for reading FOA 2012 on a Kindle or iPad. The fact is, Kindles are not designed for books that have lots and lots of tables in them. Creating a Kindle version of FOA is turning out to be something like creating an audiobook version of FOA. Sure, you might all like to get in the car and listen to my dulcet ex-radio jock tones as I narrate Mike Tanier's colossal takedown of Jeff Ireland in the Miami chapter, but when we get to the tables it would all sound like gobbledygook.

But we know how much people want special non-PDF versions of the book for Kindle and other e-readers, so we're happy to take suggestions. We're not fully giving up yet.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 16 Jul 2012

33 comments, Last at 26 Aug 2012, 11:46pm by Jason Powers


by Adam B. :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 3:02pm

Would you consider a Kindle version that just stripped out most of the tables but kept the narrative and descriptive sections?

I've read the last two years as a PDF on a Kindle, held sideways, and it's suboptimal.

by theprophecy :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 3:03pm

I do wish it could work on the Kindle, but I can understand not wanting to do all that for one device only. I tried the PDF version on Kindle last year and it was pretty annoying. I guess back to the dead tree version for me.

by Jobu Nation (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 3:13pm

I did the Kindle/PDF thing last year and it was sub-optimal. I tried using Calibre to format it appropriately and gave up because it sucked.

I vote for a Kindle version that's stripped down to just the text and removes most (or all) of the tables.

Not sure if this is possible, but I would also offer people a package somehow to buy the Kindle version and a PDF version so that they could look at the tables on a non-Kindle device.

by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 3:26pm

I would totally buy the audiobook version.

by krugerindustria... :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 3:43pm

I would pay double if RaiderJoe was the reader.

by rageon :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 3:58pm

At work, so I have no idea if the posted files are "adequate" for selling or not. But if so, 60 hours doesn't seem terribly prohibitive. Never underestimate the desperation of a great number of people desperate for jobs in the sports (and sports writing) industry.

I'm be shocked if a post asking for volunteers to handle 1/4 of the book within 1 week wasn't met with a dozen resumes within a day (from people who know what they are actually doing), even without pay and the promise of nothing more than their name listed as some form of editor.

There was a time in my life when I absolutely would have volunteered for such a project, just to have something like that to stick on a resume.

by Junior :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 5:04pm

"Transparency issue" with a (assuming) black-only file? Did you guys send createspace a PDF? Out of what program was the PDF created? Someone's incompetent or not telling the truth over there, transparency is more than likely not the issue.

I'd volunteer to lay out the book next year and would guarantee a superior product, if you choose to actually print in subsequent years (please do).

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 5:22pm

Hi. I write for FO and do all the layout.

The transparency issue came up once, when I accidentally submitted an "interactive" PDF instead of a "print" version. I think the problem now is the gutter space -- because we went over the 600-page threshold, CreateSpace is telling us we need an extra 1/8-inch of space in the gutter. Since we (I) don't want to re-do the whole book over again, we're trying to get them to just go ahead and print it anyway. But speaking to an actual human, over the phone or e-mail, is proving difficult.

All layouts are created on Adobe InDesign.

by Junior :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 6:58pm

Ah, that makes sense, "interactive" PDFs can become screwy. Their ripping system should be able to handle that -IF- there is a human at the controls to adjust one setting on the rip.

I don't know how they do things there but with a perfect-bound book such as this, it should be on the printer, not the customer, to create the extra gutter space and they "should" be able to do that in their print imposition layout - they shouldn't be making YOU adjust the PAGE layout at all unless there simply is no more room to do so on the paper to be printed.

If they insist you change your file, an action can be created within Indesign where you could potentially make the change in a minute or two, rather than manually adjust every column. That depends on how you built it originally.

Sorry, I don't want to come across as a know-it-all prick or anything, I just deal with this kind of stuff 40 hours a week and can spot a lazy print operation. Just trying to help somehow. Good luck!

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 7:09pm

"If they insist you change your file, an action can be created within Indesign where you could potentially make the change in a minute or two, rather than manually adjust every column. That depends on how you built it originally."

Please share. Seriously, I would love the help.

by Junior :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 7:22pm

Damn, okay. Here's where my lack of written communication skills comes in. I need to see the file or be in front of my machine at home. Is there any way to get an email to me (or vice-versa) without sharing it with the world here?

Send me a dummy .INDD file or something so I can see how it's constructed. If possible. I will be at my home one hour from the time on this post.

Then I can open up Indesign and see if I can come up with something one way or the other. If you have master text boxes things will go smoother for sure, if not it's not the end of the world either.

To be clear, I am not asking for anything in return, do not expect anything in return, and will not accept anything in return IF anything I do is of help.

by TheCityGame (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 5:23pm

I downloaded the pdf.

It's not good to read on the kindle itself. It's too small, but it's pages look like the book.

The format is great on Kindle for PC, and it's also good for Kindle for Android, but small, so I need to zoom and pan (it would probably be great on the kindle itself).

Also, the MOBI version isn't great. It starts off nice, but not all of the tables seem to fit. The table 4 just becomes a list of numbers that goes on for pages and is impossible to follow. The pages with Dallas' schedule and week-by-week results are screwed up in a myriad of ways. The passing/rushing/O-line tables get cut off.

email me if you want me to test anything. Us readers are probably forgiving, but IMO, this isn't quite ready for Deion.

by TheCityGame (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 5:24pm

meant to say it would probably be great on a "tablet". I did look at it on the kindle itself.

by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 5:24pm

Thanks for the feedback. We know what the problems are. We don't know how to fix them.

by Scott Seligman (not verified) :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 6:47pm

Have you considered images of the tables? This is how seemingly all but the very simple of the tables in Bill James' book are presented, presumably to avoid presentation issues.

by kamiyu206 :: Mon, 07/16/2012 - 7:29pm

Not sure it'll help, but have you contacted Baseball Prospectus team for Kindle issue?

They created Kindle version of B-Pro 2012, so they might know how to do it properly. I want Kindle version so bad and I'm willing to buy both Kindle & printed version.

by bird jam :: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 9:17am

Yes, I strongly recommend contacting the BP people. They are great guys and would probably be glad to help out.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 10:45am

We've already been in touch with them. One thing to remember is that BP is done by a conventional publisher, so the publisher took care of layout on the Kindle version, not BP themselves. And the player tables ended up laid out on three lines for each year of stats.

by Goepfi :: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 3:16am

Anything new about the printed version for the european market?
Would be great to have an info on that because otherwise i will buy the pdf version instead.
Amazon Europe knows nothing about it yet (emailed them already).


by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 4:58am

I always buy my FOA and BP Prospectus from amazon.com as I'd rather pay for it to be shipped over the Pond, rather than wait till November... Too many times .co.uk has indicated delivery dates that slip and slip and slip....

by Brewvilleinyourface :: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 1:32pm

PDF version is not optimal on the kindle but still works as an alternative.

Last few years i've printed the whole book out myself (odd pages first, flip the paper in the printer, then even pages) and put in a binder. That is much more bulky than a kindle, however.

If someone knows how to get the kindle to zoom in on the left half of a page, the pdf version would be easier to deal with...

by David McMillan (not verified) :: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 4:11pm

Scrivner is a really good book writing utility that allows output to pdf and epub and I believe mobi. Also, Calibre will convert between formats, so you might even try converting the original file in Caliber to epub/mobi etc.

Really anything close is great since reading a pdf on any ereader is a terrible experience, and that's where I do 90% of my reading nowadays.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 4:43pm

Caliber is the program we use now, that produces the examples above. We'll look into the other.

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 5:01pm

OK, here is what I did: Exported the file from InDesign to .EPUB. Everything is there, but most of it is in the wrong order the receiving tables show up after the offensive line stuff. When So I opened the .EPUB in Caliber, and copied and pasted it into Scrivener. Then I tried to move the tables in Scrivener to where they are supposed to be, and it's WORSE than Sigil. In Sigil you CAN move tables around, they will just get destroyed and turned into plain text. In Scrivener you can't move tables. You can only add them to other tables, which means the receiving and rushing tables got merged into one giant unreadable matrix of unreadable garbage.

by Al (not verified) :: Tue, 07/17/2012 - 4:29pm

I've got the new iPad. The PDF looks great and the ePub is ok (though charts sometimes spilled across pages in the ePub version using iBooks).

by Anon (not verified) :: Wed, 07/18/2012 - 11:14pm

The PDF looks fine on my kindle fire. The other two links don't work.

by Joe1943 (not verified) :: Thu, 07/19/2012 - 12:50pm

Just get an iPad (or one of the knock-off tablets) and read the PDF which looks great on my iPad. Kindles? Seriously?

by tuluse :: Thu, 07/19/2012 - 12:57pm

Some of us don't want to speed hours staring at a light, especially when our jobs have us do that for long periods of time already.

I have a Nook, and it's far more enjoyable to read on than anything backlit.

by rageon :: Thu, 07/19/2012 - 5:03pm

Absolutely. I've got an iPad and the old-school Nook. If I had to chose one to read a book on, I would pick the Nook in a second -- simply because it's not like staring into a computer screen (after doing so all freaking day already). I'm not sure that FO Almanac would work on it because of the small screen and the likelihood of having to click back and forth to read charts/etc... while reading, so I expect to get the PDF version for the iPad. But yeah, for plain old reading, you can't beat the non-blinding screen of a dedicated reader.

by Jobu Nation (not verified) :: Fri, 07/20/2012 - 12:39am

I bought the PDF version tonight and e-mailed it to my Kindle. In the subject of the e-mail, I put "convert" and Amazon automagically converted it to their own format.

It's not perfect by any means, but it's way more readable than the Calibre conversion tools I tried last year. I would definitely recommend it to Kindle owners.

by Vincent Verhei :: Fri, 07/20/2012 - 2:20am

I'm trying that process now. How long did that take?

by Vincent Verhei :: Fri, 07/20/2012 - 4:22am

And it worked, and WOW, is that final product awful.

by Jason Powers (not verified) :: Sun, 08/26/2012 - 11:46pm

I'd sure like to have a kindle version of this (it's how I buy the BP book now, too)

I assume you tried the indesign kindle export plugin amazon is giving away here