Monday, May 30, 2011

Free, Simple, Quick, Painless ebooks (I think)

While we do have the option of just using an online converter to change a Word doc version of our book into HTML (More specifically XHTML, Nyssa - my husband says the only difference between HTML and XHTML is that XHTML conforms to higher standards so you have to remember to close all your tags and such but it's essentially the same), the converters are not always perfect and then we'd probably need someone to double check the coding for us. Assuming (pretty sure this is a safe assumption) that none of us are fluent in XHTML coding, this could pose problems.

Nyssa found a way to use Adobe InDesign to export to ePub, but I'm not sure any or enough of us are familiar with InDesign. Besides, I think we (my genius husband and I) have found a way to convert directly from a PDF to ePub format. This would not only skip the XHTML conversion step but also put most of us in a format that we're probably more familiar with: the PDF. Here's the article that explains this.

It looks like it's originally intended for users who already have ebooks in PDF format and are frustrated that their chosen ebook readers don't support PDF format, and so can use this platform to convert their book into ePub which is supported by most ebook readers. Interesting note: the article says the ebook situation is similar to when the music industry was trying to find a uniform format and now ePub is the closest format we have to the comparable music Mp3.

The article has directions for how to use this "free and cross-platform ebook management tool," Calibre, to accomplish the task and it looks relatively painless and quick. I think we should at least give it a shot, though we may need to understand more about PDF/ ePub formatting of ebooks so we know what is allowed, like what Nyssa discovered about graphics in the ePub format, etc.

Anyways, check out the article about this process and the demo video on the Calibre home page to learn more. Let me know what you all think!


  1. I did take a look at Calibre, but I wasn't sure about all the functionality. I think one of my primary goals in the development of this eBook is to have an interconnected table of contents. Thinking about it though, maybe if we were to format the HTML on the HTML version of our Word Document, as I explained in my Kindle blog post, then Calibre might be able to handle that. Honestly, it came down to the fact that I trust InDesign and know that it's more of a standard for publishing. It's not too hard to learn, and it's a valuable skill to have.

    This might be a good suggestion, though. We'll have to do some minor tinkering with HTML, but maybe it will work.

  2. The conversion engine has lots of powerful features. It can rescale all font sizes, ensuring the output e-book is readable no matter what font sizes the input document uses. It can automatically detect/create book structure, like chapters and Table of Contents. It can insert the book metadata into a "Book Jacket" at the start of the book.

    So we wouldn't really need to rely on knowledge of HTML as far as I can tell.

  3. Oh this is interesting too. I'm not sure, but Calibre might be able to convert our book to a number of different formats with the functionality we're looking for. Check out this link for more information about formats and Calibre: