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Old 06-13-2011, 07:22 PM   #1
bfollowell
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How can I define the "first" page of an ebook?

What controls the first page that appears when you open a book in an ereader; the starting position?

I create/convert my ebooks using Sigil and do a final conversion to mobi using Calibre for use on my Kindle 3. Typically, the first page/section displayed is the first html file after the cover. However, several, but certainly not all, of my ebooks have started opening at some other page, two or three pages further on than I want. I haven't changed my normal procedure and I'm not aware of any flags or switches to tell which page is the initial or first page.

Is anyone aware of something I could do to insure where an ebook starts the first time it's opened?

Thanks for any assistance.

- Byron
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Old 06-14-2011, 02:41 AM   #2
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In the toc.ncx file the TOC is set. There is also a setting for each file, called playOrder. This is the order in which the files are read. You can alter the reading sequence here.
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Old 06-14-2011, 03:32 AM   #3
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You can also use Sigil's semantic setting of "text" for whatever page you wish to be the first page (for reading) of the book. WARNING: don't know if this works with Calibre-genned mobi's, but KindleGen absolutely recognizes the semantic "text" as equivalent to mobi's "start" tag.

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Old 06-14-2011, 06:43 AM   #4
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In the toc.ncx file the TOC is set. There is also a setting for each file, called playOrder. This is the order in which the files are read. You can alter the reading sequence here.
Not really. The playOrder attribute in the NCX is optional, and it does not have any real effect on the ebook. The reading order is specified in the OPF file, by the order in which the different files appear in the <spine>.
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:35 AM   #5
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In the last couple of books I did, in Sigil I set the about page—first after cover—as 'Preface' (right click on the file in Sigil, then Add Semantics), following page is title page ('Title Page' semantics). When I open the file in iBooks, first page opened is the about page. When I convert the file to .mobi in Calibre, the first page opened on my Kindle is the title page.
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Old 06-14-2011, 11:50 AM   #6
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Not really. The playOrder attribute in the NCX is optional, and it does not have any real effect on the ebook. The reading order is specified in the OPF file, by the order in which the different files appear in the <spine>.
Really? That's strange. Why having a playOrder at all then?
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Old 06-14-2011, 01:02 PM   #7
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Really? That's strange. Why having a playOrder at all then?
I believe that's because the NCX format was borrowed from the DTB (digital talking book) format, and there the playOrder attribute has its function. In ePUB, however, the order is specified elsewhere, so playOrder in the NCX has no function, but the NCX specification is the same, so the attribute remains.
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Old 06-14-2011, 04:18 PM   #8
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Well, so far nothing anyone has suggested has made any difference. I went into semantics and changed the page I desire to have the ebook start at to text and that didn't help. I also changed it to preface. Again, this made no difference. Even when I add a null h1 tag so that the page shows up first in the ncx, it still doesn't start on that page.

The strange thing is that nothing I'm trying seems to work even though I used to do absolutely nothing. My ebooks would automatically open to the first page after my cover page, no special semantics required at all.

I'm wondering if something changed in a recent Calibre update and something is happening in the conversion process. I've posted in that forum as well but no one has responded there.

I'll keep trying and will post if I have any luck. If anyone has any more ideas, please let me know.

Thanks.

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Old 06-14-2011, 07:05 PM   #9
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OK, trying to narrow the problem down a little further I decided to go and try some of my older mobis that I know used to open right where I wanted them to. I figured I might be able to narrow the problem down to when I switched to a certain new verision of Sigil or Calibre. Guess what, all my old files that used to work just the way I wanted them to now do the same thing as my newer ones. They open to the heading/first nav point in the ebook. It's really starting to look like my Kindle is the issue and not Sigil or Calibre. It seems as if something changed on a recent firmware update that is causing this but I have no idea what or how to correct it.

The whole problem is very strange.

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Old 06-15-2011, 05:34 AM   #10
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NO, that won't be it. I can't speak to MOBI's made by Calibre--you should ask Kovid; but to resolve the issue, use a "start" tag wherever you want the bloody thing to open, i.e., name="start" or id="start" (html or xhtml, respectively) and, IF Calibre is using KindleGen, which I assume (famous last words!) that it is, your Kindle should automagically open to that page. Just stick it anywhere--adjacent to your first chapter's header, or what-have-you. KindleGen and MobiGen look for that naming convention to set the "start reading" location...but again, this presumes that KindleGen is not overriden with Calibre.

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Old 06-15-2011, 01:11 PM   #11
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NO, that won't be it. I can't speak to MOBI's made by Calibre--you should ask Kovid; but to resolve the issue, use a "start" tag wherever you want the bloody thing to open, i.e., name="start" or id="start" (html or xhtml, respectively) and, IF Calibre is using KindleGen, which I assume (famous last words!) that it is, your Kindle should automagically open to that page. Just stick it anywhere--adjacent to your first chapter's header, or what-have-you. KindleGen and MobiGen look for that naming convention to set the "start reading" location...but again, this presumes that KindleGen is not overriden with Calibre.

HTH,
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OK, that sort of works. Defining a page as "start" manually in the opf works perfectly but I see no semantics in Sigil that let me define a page as a start page. Setting my start page's name="start" gives me an error. Setting id="start" does absolutely nothing. The only way I can see to make it work is to rename the epub as a zip, pull out the opf and add the line manually to the guide section, then add the modified opf back into the epub and convert. That does work perfectly mind you, it just seems a little more cumbersome than it should be.

Thanks for the help though. I really appreciate it.

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Old 06-15-2011, 04:12 PM   #12
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Why should there be something in Sigil for this? For an epub it isn't necessary to define a page as start page. That is a mobi issue.
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Old 06-15-2011, 04:30 PM   #13
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The only way I can see to make it work is to rename the epub as a zip, pull out the opf and add the line manually to the guide section, then add the modified opf back into the epub and convert. That does work perfectly mind you, it just seems a little more cumbersome than it should be.
I know very little about mobi, but if you're a Calibre user you can make the above slightly less cumbersome by using the Tweak-epub option. It will explode the epub for you. You still need to manually edit the .opf file. Then Press the Rebuild button to rezip it.
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:59 PM   #14
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Why should there be something in Sigil for this? For an epub it isn't necessary to define a page as start page. That is a mobi issue.
True, and I don't think I insinuated that it was and epub issue. But, likewise, it also isn't necessary to define a page as the cover, the bibliography, the title page, the toc, the forward, epigraph, acknowledgments, etc, yet all of those options are there as semantics. Following your logic, maybe those options should be removed.

It just seems sort of strange that the developer included so many options as semantics but left that one out. That's all I meant.

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Old 06-15-2011, 07:24 PM   #15
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Now that I know I can fix this by manually editing the opf, I have no problem, until I go back into Sigil and edit an epub for some reason. If I do that, Sigil removes my start page definition. I'm not really sure why but it does. Now I'll need to make sure I remember to do that every single time I find a need to go back in and edit an epub. I think I'm going to put this one in as a ticket and see what happens.

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