Case Study: Freelance Academy Press

duel_cvrFreelance Academy Press publishes both new educational books and carefully selected reprints of books in the fields of Western martial arts, American and European history, arms and armour, chivalry, historical arts and crafts, and related adult and young adult fiction.

We have worked on several eBooks for Freelance Academy Press including Swordplay, The Complete Renaissance Swordsman, In Saint George’s Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts, and Old School: Japanese Martial Traditions.

Their most recent conversion is Dueling with O-sensei by Ellis Amdur, a revised and expanded edition featuring new chapters, photographs, and artwork.

If you are a long-time martial artist, you have likely been either the recipient, the victim – or both – of the “wise old master” phenomenon, whereby budō students reverentially enfold their teachers as martial, moral and mystical juggernauts sans reproach, in which case, this book will make you clench your fists and laugh out loud, often while reading the same sentence.. Iconoclastic, rebellious, yet fiercely holding to some of the most traditional values of Japanese martial culture, Amdur brought something new to martial arts writing – a startling honesty about the flaws, not only within martial arts culture, but also within its practitioners, often using himself as an exemplar of the latter.

Like the majority of Freelance Academy Press’ eBooks, Dueling with O-sensei was converted to reflowable eBook formats. These types of eBooks are accepted by all the major channels in our distribution network and work on all the major e-reading platforms. Reflowable formats also offer readers have much greater control over their reading experience many e-reading devices and applications allow readers to select both a font size and typeface.

freel_flowReflowable formats require a simpler layout with all the text in one column since the amount of content on a reader’s screen will vary depending on the device or e-reading application being used and the individual reader’s own display preferences.

For manuscripts that contain images, tables, callouts, or other special formatting features, modifications sometimes need to be made to the layout to ensure the reflowable eBook files work correctly across a range of devices. This was the case with

This was the case with Dueling with O-sensei where the layout was modified to suit the single column requirements of reflowable formats.

Some of the changes we needed to make included simplifying the chapter heading styles and moving images and captions to the end of paragraphs rather than placing them beside images since the text cannot wrap around images in reflowable formats. On supported platforms, images in reflowable eBooks can be tapped to enlarge them–a key benefit for many of the instructional titles produced by Freelance Academy Press.

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If a print book includes footnotes, those are changed to endnotes during the eBook conversion process. Those notes are linked in the text and in the notes section at the back, making it easy for readers to navigate between the main text and the notes section.

Though some minor compromises need to be made when converting to reflowable formats, converting to reflowable ePUB and Mobi does mean the eBook is available on the widest possible range of e-reading platforms.

sword_cvrnewAnother recent Freelance Academy Press conversion is Swordplay, an anonymous 1595 treatise for fencing with rapier, sword and polearms that has been translated and contextualized by Reinier van Noort.

Tucked away in the Newberry Library of Chicago is an anonymous manuscript entitled Schermkunst (“Art of Swordsmanship”), whose brief text and exquisite watercolours details fencing with the single sword, rapier and dagger, rapier and buckler, halberd, and full pike.

Beyond its artistic charms, however, this little book of 1595 is one of the oldest known martial arts treatises from the Low Countries and gives us a glimpse into the Art of Defense as it was practiced at a particularly volatile time in Netherlands history. Rebellion against Philip II of Spain led to independence of the Calvinist Northern provinces from Catholic Spain, and in the same year, the spice trade expedition Cornelis de Houtman set into motion events culminating in the formation of the Dutch East India Company, and a golden age of Dutch history that spanned the 17th century. This cultural and political foment is represented in the similarities between the methodology in Schermkunst and the rich traditions of England, Germany and Italy, and the inclusion of several sword and shield techniques combat representing that quintessential bogey-man of Renaissance Europe: the Ottoman Turks.

We converted Swordplay to fixed-layout eBooks so that the original layout of the manuscript could be preserved.

Though fixed-layout formats have the slight disadvantage of not working across all eBook devices and applications and of not being accepted by some smaller distribution channels, they offer significantly more styling and layout options than reflowable eBooks, including colour backgrounds, multi-column content, and specific fonts.

We produced three fixed-layout formats for Swordplay: KTC for Amazon, PagePerfect for Barnes and Noble, and ePUB for Apple, Google Play, eSentral, Kobo, StoryTel, Overdrive and their partner retailers. All three of these formats offer pinch-zoom page navigation, allowing readers to enlarge the beautiful watercolour images included in Swordplay.

Because the print layout can be replicated with fixed-layout formats, the footnotes at the bottom of the page were maintained, as were the fonts used in the print version of Swordplay.

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To learn more about Dueling with O-sensei, Swordplay, or any of Freelance Academy Press’ other titles, please visit their website or you can find them on Facebook and YouTube.

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