Category Digital Publishing

New, updated blog:

Have finally found time to update the blog and move it to the original URL: Most of the content has been transitioned over – please take a look! As always, thanks for your time.

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WORK HARD FOR THE KIMS! An Introduction to North Korea

UPDATE (19 FEB): The book is now (finally!) available on Kobo.

The “KIMS” in the title represent North Korea’s ruling family, in power in Pyongyang since the 40s and anxious to stay there. The images in the book introduce North Korean history, culture, and ideology by translating the country’s unique propaganda posters into English, then exploring their themes and messages.

Most of the posters used in the brief book are already here on the website, or available on the Facebook page, but the book includes additional details and explanations.

The book is currently available for download from Amazon for Kindle, Barnes and Noble for Nook, and Apple’s iBooks store. A Kobo version will be available soon. Please let me know if you’d like to see the book available in additional formats. There are no plans to publish a paperback or hardcover version at this time.


Censored in South Korea?

As you can see from the flag graph to your right, I get my second largest number of visitors from South Korea. Go figure, given how many of my posts are about the Koreas.

However, according to How to Get Censored in South Korea, a 13 August article in the New York Times on growing Internet censorship in South Korea (never mind the North), certain content can get your site banned in the South. The Times article not only carries some of the banned content, it offers to share it with other websites.


North Korean Propaganda Posters

UPDATE (JUL 2015): New images added to the updated blog and Facebook page.

UPDATE (DEC 2014): I added some new posters below (including a translation of the Korean on the movie poster promoting ‘The Interview’) and to the Facebook page. As always, thanks for stopping by and let me know if you have any posters you’d like translated.

UPDATE (JAN 2014): The propaganda posters and English translations have now been compiled into a brief ebook introducing North Korean history, culture, and ideology – WORK HARD FOR THE KIMS!, available now on Amazon, iBooks/iTunes, Nook, and Kobo. The images and translations in the book are from those below and on the Facebook page. Please let me know of other images you’d like to see translated.

UPDATES (9 Dec 2013, 25 Apr, 18 Jan, 7 Dec 2012, 15 Nov, 18 Oct): More images have been uploaded. Please feel free to suggest additional images you’d like to have translated.

In what will hopefully be an ongoing project, I’ve posted a few North Korean propaganda posters, with rough translations, to the Facebook page. Once there, click the photo to read the translation and related comments.

I’ll also add a few of the anti-American ones below, the first one is roughly translated as “Those who dare insult our dignity face a mighty punishment!” (it sounds much tougher in Korean). The poster is from the pro North Korean website (which itself translates as “our people’s path”).

North Korean Poster


For this one, the headband reads “U.S. military out!” (meaning, leave the Korean peninsula), while the main text reads “Repel the American invader” (to save us from misery and pain).


Average South Korean Household Spends $200 a Month on ‘Media’

A mildly interesting story, for those of us selling content in Korea at least, says the average South Korean household spends W224,413 (roughly $200) per month on “media,” including charges for mobile phone, Internet, cable TV, home phone, and (printed) newspapers and magazines.

For someone currently paying for the same services in the U.S., with its far slower Internet speeds and cable bills that can easily hit $100 a month, the breakdown is striking:

  • W172,136 ($155) a month for cellphone service (again, this is per household, not per person)
  • W27,148 ($25) a month for Internet
  • W16,347 ($15) a month for cable (reminding me how fondly I recall that bill from Seoul, compared to DC)
  • W14,960 ($13.50) a month for home phone, for those who still have it
  • and W14,423 ($13) a month for newspapers and magazines

The survey, of 500 adults age 20-60, also asked people to rank the importance of various media forms on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most important. The Internet was ranked highest at 4.32, followed closely by mobile phones at 4.30, broadcast TV at 3.7, home phones at 2.5, and (printed) newspaper and magazines at 2.4.


콩글리시 to English (Konglish to English)

My new book, 콩글리시 to English (Konglish to English), is finally out and available for download from iTunes. Written partially in Korean, the book is designed to help address common problems faced by Korean learners of English, plus those who teach them.

콩글리시 to English (Konglish to English)

I set up a separate section of the blog, KONGLISH / 콩글리시, to focus on Konglish-related writing, including excerpts from the book. Having researched and written on Konglish since the late 90s, I have a fair grounding in the subject, but am always open to learning more – please post comments below or in a related post.

Another goal in writing the book, as I blogged about in the Digital Publishing category (above), was to learn how to use Apple’s new iBooks Author program, and then compare it with Adobe’s Creative Suite, InDesign, and Captivate. While the Apple product, all of six months old, lacks many of the capabilities of the much-older Adobe programs, it also lacks their price (Author is free) and steep learning curve. You can be up and productively writing in Author in minutes (provided you own a Mac – there is, as yet, no Windows version), something that cannot be said for those new to, or only mildly familiar with, the Adobe monstrosities.

Having used the product for six months and found it generally user-friendly, practical, and simple, if occasionally buggy and odd (as blogged about in previous postings), I am curious to see what Apple makes of Author. Will it follow iTunes in eventually expanding to Windows? Will Apple allow authors to publish to platforms (i.e. Kindle and Nook) outside of iTunes and iPad? Will Apple finally stop putting that irritating little ‘i’ in front of iEverything iIt iMakes?


New ‘Konglish’ Category

UPDATE (11 July): The book has been approved for sale (!) and is slowly working its way through the Apple bureaucracy. It has yet to make it into iTunes, but is currently visible on the iTunes Preview website.

I’m adding a new section to the website today, in honor of my forthcoming book, 콩글리시 to English (Konglish to English), an education book intended for the Korean market and written entirely in Apple’s new iBooks Author.

The new section will consist of common 콩글리시/Konglish expressions and how best to translate and explain them in English. After visitors from the U.S., visitors from South Korea make up the largest readership for the blog and my 1stopKorea website. Adding this content, written partially in Korean, is a way of addressing that readership.

The new book, despite the use of the iBooks platform, marks a return to my roots. I’ve been researching and writing on Konglish since the mid-90s, making it the focus of my first book, 미국에선 안통하는 한국식 영어표현 (roughly: ‘Konglish expressions that won’t work in the U.S.), published way back in 1999 and, unfortunately, now out of print.

Please enjoy the new section and feel free to add any Konglish, including a translation/explanation, you come across. I’ll be adding the first few expressions shortly, but backdating them so they don’t completely take over the front page of the blog. Thanks, and enjoy!


Problems with Audio Files and Quizzes in Apple’s iBooks Author

After a brief hiatus, finally back at work and finishing up my first book using Apple’s new iBooks Author digital publishing platform. As this project winds down, a few new issues (for more writings on iBooks Author, head to the Digital Publishing section of the blog) have become evident.

First, as shown in the screenshots below, the audio controls differ markedly when switching between the portrait and landscape orientations. I prefer the portrait view’s smaller controller size and would love to be able to use that controller in both views. Unfortunately, if it can be done, I’ve yet to figure out how.

Second, if you look closely at the two screenshots, you’ll notice the portrait view has the recording I made for “during midnight” (a common Korean-English expression discussed in this book on Konglish). Unfortunately, the recording disappears when the book is switched to landscape view, a problem that happens at least one other time in the book. Despite deleting and reloading, plus numerous other attempted workarounds, I’m unable to fix the problem. This leaves a reader using only landscape view deprived of the book’s full content. I’m not sure why this happens, but it shouldn’t.


Apple’s new iBooks Author vs. Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite and new Creative Cloud

UPDATE (JAN 2014): I just published another ebook, this one heavily focused on images, and found little has changed over the past couple of years – Apple’s system is still far and away the easiest to use, resulting in a smoother, more appealing final product. Unfortunately, as before, IBooks Author only works on Apple products and proved essentially useless for developing a Kindle book. Given that my sales on Amazon dwarf my sales on all other platforms combined, this is a significant drawback.

Addressing that drawback by using the greater layout, template, and design controls of the Creative Cloud products also proved untenable for Kindle. Amazon prefers submissions formatted in Word, with very limited layout and design options. Essentially, the layout is confined to text, then an image, then more text. Anything involving more complicated, professional layouts proved impossible. Meaning my time spent with Adobe’s products was largely wasted.

In the end, given the project was for an image-focused ebook to be delivered via Amazon and Apple’s bookstores, Creative Suite wasn’t necessary. I used iBooks Author to create a book with a fairly sophisticated, magazine-style layout for iTunes. Then I took the text from that book, pasted it into a Word doc, then added back in the images, to create a book with the layout of a middle school English paper to use on Amazon. The easiest method would have been to just write everything in Word, but the Apple system is so simple to use, and looks so much better (at least for an image-heavy book), it was worth the extra work. The end result however, is readers using a Kindle will have a clunkier experience than those using an iPad or Mac.

UPDATE (29 JAN 2013):If you’re publishing for an iPad-only audience, a class or work team where everyone owns the device as part of the project, then iBooks Author is far easier and quicker for creating new content, especially if it contains video or audio. Even existing content can be easier to route through Author than the Adobe suite, unless you’re a skilled Adobe user with content already set up in one of the suite’s programs (e.g. InDesign, Dreamweaver, Captivate, etc.).

If you’re publishing with the intent of maximizing sales however, the market for Author-based books (iPad only) doesn’t compare with the reach of the Adobe tools (iPad, plus iPhone, Kindle and Nook, Windows, Blackberry, and, oh yeah, the entire Android universe). The upfront time to learn InDesign and the rest is considerable, but so is the advantage in market size. Plus, converting from a book/publication to an actual app is possible with the Adobe products, should you so desire (i.e. you’d like to include audio or video in your book, which is still a no-go for most e-readers but normal in apps). Again, it’s not easy, but it’s possible. With iBooks Author, it’s not possible to sell/distribute outside of books on the iPad .

While my personal experience is hardly the sole measure of iBooks, I sell more in a few days on Amazon than a month on iTunes/iBooks (plus there’s no irritating little “i” in front of everything). So, before you start development, carefully consider your goal for the project. If it is to distribute to a team of iPad owners, and/or you’d like to relatively quickly and easily include audio or video in your publication, iBooks Author is the natural choice. If your goal is sell to the widest possible audience, then, no matter how easy it is, Author is not the best choice. You’ll either need to dive into the Adobe morass (though the advent of Creative Cloud at least makes it cheaper than before), swear off the entire non-iPad world, or wait and hope Apple someday updates Author to allow for publishing to other platforms (to shouts of joy echoed around the planet).

UPDATE (23 OCT): My ‘pre-jinx’ from yesterday appears to have worked – Apple just announced an update to iBooks Author, which should address some of the issues mentioned below. I look forward to downloading and testing the latest version as soon as it’s available.

UPDATE (22 OCT): iBooks Author came out in January and, except for a quick update right after release, we’ve seen no updates since. If the software is going to become a legitimate competitor to the Adobe suite, instead of just another “hobby”, Apple needs to up the pace, at the very least by addressing the bugs outlined below. If not, between the bugs and the limited, iTunes-only publishing option, Author is quickly going to wither on the vine – an outcome benefiting no one outside Adobe.

Previous postings focused on initial impressions from working with Apple’s new iBooks Author and on the challenge iBooks Author (hereafter just called Author because I’m tired of typing the little i in front of everything) may eventually pose to Adobe, especially to Captivate and elements of Creative Suite. This posting takes a more direct look at comparing Author with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite.

First off, Author is completely free, both to download the software and with no additional per book up-charges, aside from iTunes’ normal cut. Though the included templates are still limited, additional third-party templates are becoming available for purchase, including Book Palette in the App Store and from (well done on being the first to jump on that URL). As mentioned in previous postings and reader comments, the software still has bugs (e.g. quizzes, Help Center, odd layout issues, oversized audio playback controls, etc.) but is intuitive and easy to put to work.


First Three Weeks with iBooks Author

UPDATE (10 March): Narration capability? There really isn’t any. While the OS has a built in text-to-speech reader, this is English-only on the system I’m using to write my current book, meaning it only reads some of the words. Given the book I’m writing is partly in Korean (and I’m sure I’m not the only person writing a language book), having the system skip whole phrases and sentences as it reads is less than desirable and makes QCing my work a hassle. Being able to add my own narration would make for a more educational, friendlier, and less robotic product.

Using widgets, I can add audio files, but the amount of space the player takes up is too large, at least for my purposes. All I want is a small play/pause button next to a headline, and the option to have the audio start automatically upon page load. If someone would like to listen, they have that option, if not, I’m not wasting a lot of screen space on an unused player.

I may be the only person on the planet who likes Adobe Captivate’s built-in voice recording and editing features, functionality I would love to see incorporated into Author, along with the smaller player mentioned above. This would allow me to do most of my work in one program, plus build in an unobtrusive option for sound/narration. Instead, as it stands now, I’ve got to use another program for creating and editing my sound files, then paste them into Author (an admittedly easy process), then devote a relatively large section of the screen to a player some or most readers may never use. Not optimal, but forgivable in software as yet only two months old.

Help Center? As you can see from the screenshot, there appear to be some issues with Help Center integration. You can still read enough to get the info you need, but this is obviously not what you want. Hopefully, this will get fixed quickly in a future release.

[ORIGINAL POST] Here are a few initial impressions after three weeks working with Apple’s new iBooks Author program:

  • First off, it is very intuitive and easy to use, almost like something designed by Apple … oh, right.
  • Why is there no option to view the book on a computer? If the books created by the program are meant to be textbooks, then presumably students are going to use the books for reports, and therefore want to copy and paste citations directly into a paper, not retype things they saw on their iPad. I get it that the software is meant to help sell iPads, but it seems overly restrictive to prevent textbooks from appearing on computers. Hopefully this restriction will soon go the way of the old ‘no iTunes on Windows’ idea.
  • The existing templates are nice; adding more in future updates would be even nicer.
  • As an author, I’d like to be able to preview the book, especially the widgets used for quizzing, on my computer without having to hook up an iPad every single time. Why not have an emulator allowing writers to see/test their book, preferably on all versions of the iPad, without having to track down and hook up a version of every last one ever manufactured?
  • Why no option to print? This is an issue I also have with iBooks in general, plus Kindle and Nook. If I, as an author, have no problem with someone printing out my work, and the purchaser/customer would like to print it, who is Apple/Amazon/B&N to prevent that? I would specifically like to make a book with handouts available for teachers to print, copy, and distribute to students – why can’t I do this? And yes, I get it that handouts are not required if everyone in class has an iPad, but that classroom is not my reality.

I’m sure I’ll discover more issues, both good and bad, as I continue to work with what appears to be a great addition to the writer/publisher toolkit. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for reading; feel free to put your comments below.