Still here

… things have been a bit quiet here and also, RetroRead update-wise. Pleased to see things are apparently (plus or minus an Amazon EC2 blackout) running pretty smoothly, in particulalry with “Retro Rocket”. I hope everyone is using this, it is due to switch over to the default “creation” option (when I get time — things in land of “day job” have been a bit demanding …).


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Google Books settlement rejected

Now what?

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Thousands of Titles!

… Retroread can now lay claim to hosting “thousands” of converted Kindle titles, the recent “blitz” of conversions by the “Schlegelphile” out there has pushed the title count to over 2000!

I love it when someone finds a trove of a favorite writer and indulges themselves!

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RetroRocket – conversion the way it was meant to be

OK, this is how I always wanted the RetroRead experience to be — you simply point at a search result on Google, and bam! it’s converted, all in the background, no file downloading.

It’s a little tricky, particularly since Google really expects a human behind the wheel of a browser to interact with their download urls. After a while of repeated downloads from the same url, they begin to suspect that someone is “crawling” the site. Not so here – every download request is triggered individually by a user at a browser;only, the request is “proxied” through the RetroRead servers so that it can be delivered at high speed to the target conversion service, rather than downloaded and re-uploaded at “last mile” speeds. There is still a little latency, but “more or less” — all you need to do is click, and either the book is queued for conversion right away, or (as we recommend), queued for “editing” of the extraneous front matter. It’s really a dream!

Searching Google’s book library is done through a Google Books feed search, and only titles with epub downloads are returned in the search results. There is also a nifty “preview” feature — click on the title and a “Google Books Preview” view is displayed.

If the site gets busy, you may be asked to enter a “Captcha” response — this is Google’s way of making sure there really is human there.

Happy converting (I mean EDITING and converting).

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Are there a few beta testers out there?

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on the “next step” in the RetroRead service — the ability to directly move books from Google into the conversion workflow, without having to download them to your desktop. It’s pretty neat, and *super* fast — search, edit, and go!

This requires a bit of care and a few tricks to try and stay on the good side of Google’s throttling features. I’d like to get a little more field testing done before just turning it loose (to ultimately replace the Google search in iframe implementation).

Just send us a note at, we’ll sign you up and show you how to access this new feature.

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How to video on YouTube

Just posted a walk-through video of the flow of searching, downloading, uploading, and editing of a Google epub through RetroRead into Kindle format.

Hope it encourages more users to take the plunge and do some of their own conversions!

It’s available on the RetroRead site here.

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Feed Happy

Recently we added an option to allow others to view your personal library at a custom RetroRead url. (/mylibrary/myusername).

Now for those who care to share, your personal library page (if you have one) now sports an RSS feed (you should see the feed icon in your browser’s url bar) which generates a feed for your books. If you have your own blog, you can add this feed to it, for example. (The url btw is, surprise!, /mylibrary/myusername/rss.xml).

Log in and go to your profile settings to enable publishing your library.


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tiny urls for Kindle downloads

You can now enter a tiny url in the Kindle browser to quickly download any title you see on the RetroRead website. (Users already have the ability to access from their browsers and get a ‘dumbed down for Kindle browser’ experience where they can search the library or browse the 100 most recently converted titles.)

If you find a title (by any path) on the RetroRead site and display its “details” page, you will see a very short url of the form, where xyz are a three-character code specific to the title. The book will immediately start downloading to the Kindle when the url is entered in the Kindle’s browser.

I thought using the .mobi top level domain was highly apropos given that these are “mobi” files, and it allowed me to snag a short three-letter domain name (there are no four letter domains available in .com now I believe).

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…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

Or so says Sherlock Holmes. For me, it’s a lot murkier … I received an email from Amazon two weeks ago more or less out of the blue telling me they had removed my Sherlock Holmes title in an effort to clean up redundant public domain stuff.

A generally good idea, although my personal opinion is that *my* edition is actually differentiated by its general superior quality and particularly by its inclusion of Strand-era illustrations. I wrote them to tell them so; didn’t get a reply, but, low and behold, at least for the moment, it’s available.

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RSS feed for RetroRead

… we’re sporting a new RSS in the right hand panel here, a feed of the most recent titles which have been added to the library after being converted to Kindle format. The RSS link is available now on the home page.

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