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© Ugur Akinci
Every week I hear about yet another “platform” to self-publish content online.
Today I had the chance to have a look at Tizra.com and wanted to compare it to Kindle and Moodle, two of my favorite publishing platforms.
The advantage of Kindle is obvious: where else can you expose your content to millions of daily visitors? Amazon is so powerful it takes care of your SEO issues almost by default, if you use the right book title and keywords.
Kindle publishing is very straight forward. It’s designed for the “technologically handicapped”, so to speak. You just fill in the blanks in two successive pages. Browse and find your content file and your cover art. And you’re done. You can publish a Word document as a Kindle ebook within 15 minutes. The payments are generous too. For books between $2.99 and $9.99, Amazon pays you 70%. Try earning that from a traditional publisher.
The downside is: you cannot publish PDF on Kindle. It has to be either a Word document, or an HTML file. The good thing is MS Word 2007 and 2010 have a great “Save As” option called “Web Page, Filtered” which you can export to Kindle format without any problems.
One other drawback of Kindle is — it’s not very good to publish photographs, mathematical formulas and drawings with. But I assume Amazon engineers are aware of the problem and are working on it as we speak.
One thing that would really explode the number of Kindle ebooks available is the ability to submit PDF documents of course, even though that would also bring with itself the Quality Assurance problem when people start to publish every single PDF file on their hard disks.
However, Amazon is already facing a spam problem due to the number of “Private Label” ebooks available out there. These are basically books written by someone else. You buy the copyright-free content, slap on your own name and publish. This has become such a cottage industry that sometimes you see the same PL ebook with the same title and cover published by different “authors” displayed one after the other on Amazon. It’s a problem that eats into Amazon’s reputation as a customer-centered operation, no doubt.
Moodle is a great open-source publishing and training software that you can download for free and install on your web server.Our Technical Writing Online Course, for example, is published with Moodle.
There are many web hosting companies that provide one-click installation as well, like Blue Host. If you are planning to offer your ebook or training materials to a large group, however, I recommend a more dedicated host like Classroom Revolution since Moodle requires a lot of back-end database power. Regular cheap hosts where you share a server with thousands of other customers choke up when too many Moodle users start using the system.
Moodle is excellent for publishing ebooks and multimedia content but it’s definite advantage is in providing great interactivity with your readers and students. You can assign homework to your readers, evaluate the assignments online, give them grades, and allow the students to keep track of their progress.
You can offer the content in a variety of ways including offering it chronologically as an “N-week course”, let’s say, or topically as an “N-topic course”. The features of Moodle are too many to summarize here. Let me suffice by saying that it’s a great solution if you’d like to interact with your readers and test their knowledge along the way.
Moodle is used by hundreds of universities around the world and their numbers are increasing by the day since, unlike Moodle’s commercial competitors like Blackboard, you do not need to pay thousands of dollars of license fees to use Moodle. You can also integrate a payment module like PayPal easily into Moodle and charge your readers/students if you’d like to.
Tizra is the newest offering. It’s main advantage seems to be to turn those PDF files sitting on your computer into commercial content. You can offer whole books to your customers through Tizra, as well as chapters or even individual pages. Subscription option is available as well.
One shortcoming of Tizra (shared by Kindle) is its lack of interactivity with the readers. But it offers some nice features that’s worth looking into. Just make sure your readers use an AJAX-enabled computer. So I’m not sure if Mac users, for example, can use Tizra while they’d have no problems with either Kindle or Moodle.
One advantage of publishing on Tizra — it seems to optimized specifically for iPhone and iPad. So if you’d like to publish your PDF content on mobile gadgets and make some money while doing it, Tizra might be your solution.
Tizra offers “targeted search” but SEO could still be a problem since the readers must still be able to find your PDF document online. The problem is shared with any Moodle publication whereas Kindle, with its built in Amazon traffic, is light-years ahead on that score.
Visit http://tizra.com/index.php?page=product to learn more about Tizra features.
Abe Dane of Tizra kindly responded, correcting a few points:
“1) No AJAX is required to view content on Tizra. We present the content web standard formats that will work on just about any desktop web browser (no Flash or other proprietary plug-ins required). More and more mobile web browsers work well with Tizra as well, including those in current versions of iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). Enhanced Android support is coming within the next few weeks.
The confusion may have come from the fact that the administrative screens used to set up and manage sites on our platform do use AJAX.
2) Tizra offers excellent SEO, in part because it actually presents a special, extracted text version of the content to search engine crawlers, not the plain PDF. Also, we present a better experience for users, because search results lead them direct to the specific page containing their search terms. For example, when you Google iPad status icons…
…you get to a page on which a Tizra hosted page is at the top, we suspect because users go directly to a page containing relevant information, rather than having to download a PDF and then scroll through it.
We also support name based URLs and will soon be adding Google sitemaps. Obviously no one can guarantee page rank on Google, but our results have generally been quite good.“