View Full Version : eBook PDF - free tool for creating PDF eBooks from text files

08-03-2009, 04:12 AM
If you read plain text eBooks check out my site for my free tool ‘eBook PDF’. I don't know if I can post links, but my site is my name (KACartlidge) dot com (or if the link works). I knocked up this tool because I wanted a consistently formatted, simple PDF of my plain text eBooks and I also wanted a way to ensure the title/author metadata plus table of contents got created just how I liked them.

Using this free tool I’ve knocked up, you can create a decent PDF from any text file. More information is available on the eBook PDF page, but basically it will produce PDF’s sized how you want, with a font size you want, including metadata for title and author so your eBook reader can categorise it, with chapter breaks (the Sony Reader PR505 treats them as a table of contents) and optionally with styled sections that need to stand out.

The text files used can be run through as often as you want to create PDFs for different devices (eg. PC or eBook reader). There is a preset for the Sony Reader which fits perfectly and should offer a good amount of content per page without the need for scaling it. Having said that, devices like the Sony that can scale PDFs should be able to handle the PDFs nicely due to it’s simplicity.

Incidentally even if you don’t need to create PDFs this could still be useful as when it reads in a file it also re-wraps the text, trying to sensibly determine where paragraph breaks should be (still taking account of the original line breaks). This means that fixed-width files (like older text documents or some Project Gutenberg ones) are changed to variable-width files with one paragraph per line so anything that reads them, such as MS Word or Notepad, can then flow the paragraphs better visually on screen.

Finally, a quick word on why it only creates PDFs. You get maximum portability across computers, fine-control over layout, embedded metadata (title, author) which is a huge benefit for eBook readers, and on the Sony Reader PRS505 it seems the least memory and processor intensive option; they are scanned quickly and presented speedily too, whilst scaling seems far more efficient than RTF for example.

If you like it (or even hate it but still find it useful) all I ask is a mention on your blog or website if you have one, or a recommendation to someone else if you don’t.

Remember - it’s free so it does the job but don’t expect perfection. Any suggestions please let me know.

I have a version that produces RTF files but as they take so long (comparatively) both for readers to scan for metadata and also to reformat when you zoom, I'm not sure it's worth including. The nature of the input files to eBook PDF means the word-processor-like styling abilities of RTF are pretty much redundant, particularly bearing in mind that Wordpad and other free editors can easily produce RTF files anyway so the only benefit is my support of RTF metadata (for which on Windows you'd need Word not Wordpad). If enough people think I'm wrong, I can add it back in. Especially as I guess some reader devices may work better with RTF than PDF.

Incidentally, I'm also working on an ePub version. It currently produces ePubs that read fine in Calibre but not on the PRS500. I believe I know why, so it shouldn't be long to sort.

08-08-2009, 09:14 AM
Incidentally, I'm also working on an ePub version. It currently produces ePubs that read fine in Calibre but not on the PRS500. I believe I know why, so it shouldn't be long to sort.
I think you mean 505 and not 500. Anyway, the problem probably is that you are not following the mobile ADE specification.

08-08-2009, 02:56 PM
KACartlidge, thanks for sharing this nice tool and welcome to MR. :) Good to see some .NET based tools here too. I'm totally new to eBook creation/conversion tools, but I'm aware of the bias against PDF format and understand the numerous good reasons for it being one of the least favorite formats for eBook readers. It will be interesting to see the reception here on MR of a tool that goes from any format to PDF.

I think it's a good addition given the advantages over plain text mentioned in your blog, decent support for PDF in Sony and other readers and the wide portability that originally made PDF so popular. I can see PDF gradually becoming more eReader aware--especially as PDF compatible readers like Sony increase in popularity. Tools like yours could play a part in that reconciliation [he says, while bracing for feedback from the experts].

08-09-2009, 03:22 AM
I've been thinking. I suspect that most anti-PDF sentiment (and I have it, too) is not because of tools like this.

To PDF is fine; be merry and enjoy your book.

From PDF is the nightmare, and the source of frustration.


m a r

ps: this looks like a useful tool for PDF reading folks. Good job, and hard work, I'm sure.

08-10-2009, 12:51 AM
I've been thinking... From PDF is the nightmare, and the source of frustration. I think you nailed it. Just spent a few hours cleaning up a PDF to Word conversion myself (my first project). I'm just hoping eBook readers will soon be ubiquitous enough to force greater awareness by Adobe and PDF creators in general. It might manifest in the form of PDFs gradually including ebook friendly versions or new options that allow ebook hostile features to be easily removed. Of course at the same time, more publishers should start offering ebook specific formats as well.

08-10-2009, 01:09 AM
I generally don't do PDF conversions, but I have one book that I've done it with. I started it months ago, did at least two passes on it. The first conversion was unbelievably scrambled. It has pull quotes, and some text decoration.

I'm doing a basic reformat now, effectively a third pass, and I'm still finding errors and awkwardness. Probably looking at something like 12 to 14 hours total, maybe more.

The book is probably worth it. Most aren't, especially if there's another format available. The major argument for PDFs is that they are viewable as the designer intended, without regard to hardware, available fonts, etc. This particular PDF was pretty ugly, so no loss there -- in fact the version I'm developing is far more attractive.

I expect that publishers prefer PDF in part because it is so dang difficult to convert. I also think that sometimes they intentionally obfuscate the layout as a form of security.

Strange world,

m a r

01-04-2012, 10:41 AM
There is a lot of tools for creating e-books, such as Very easy and simple to use. Actually, everyone is able to deal with it. Besides pressmo contains interactive catalog which helps in advertising your ebook.