Thanks DigitalFeonix! Those scripts really help a lot. I'm still going to try to get Calibre working, but if it doesn't, I now have fallback #4, except you've done the job for me.
Haven't been able to test anything, though, since I'm experiencing some weird issues with 1and1 mod_rewrite. The .htaccess file I use for my local XAMPP server doesn't want to work with 1and1 so I'm slowly trying to troubleshoot it.
If/when I get this working, I can start on making the covers look spiffy with ImageMagick.
The PHP scripts don't look complicated at all, barring for the ZipCreate class. That, though, I attribute to my lack of knowledge of the zip file structure. Seems like that's the only thing you really need to port to Python. The rest is basically just creating text files.