Originally Posted by Penforhire
All good explanations but I'm not sure I agree with Word documents (DOC or DOCX) being so far from "ebooks." With proper use of Styles and embedded graphics why is it THAT different from, say, epub?
I don't know about any technical issues, but there is the supply/demand issue. .doc just isn't a common format for e-books. The incentive isn't high to build a quality conversion system because its not needed very often. The standards are epub and mobi. Quite a few things are in pdf. Very few are word, although I have seen a few.
How would an ebook get into word anyway? An author who writes in word is unlikely to distribute it that way, because, even if they are willing to distribute it DRM-free, they aren't likely to want to offer it in an editable format. If not from the author, then who else would put it into word? My guess is someone who has scanned and OCR'd a paper book. However, if they are meticulous enough to produce a high quality OCR then I'd guess they also would want to output in a standard ebook format.
I don't doubt that you have word ebooks, and no doubt you are fine with them. My point is that they aren't common enough to drive the need for an automated workflow through a system like calibre. As you said, there is always the rtf work-around for the rare needs.