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Old 07-12-2012, 04:53 PM   #1
AuthorGreg
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Line Spacing Problem

Well, I don't know how many share my opinion, but the Nook Simple Touch, which I bought for reasons that will soon be obvious, is a whole new ballpark for displaying ePubs. It just doesn't flow text as tidy and neat as other Nook models, and nowhere near as good as any Kindle does.

I went to Barnes & Noble a couple of weeks ago, and while in there I realized I had always relied on the Pubit! online previewer or the Nook desktop reader to verify my work. So I downloaded some samples of my own work. On every Nook in the store my stuff looked just like it does on the Kindle. But when I got to the Nook Simple Touch, I was horrified to see some really terrible stuff: Em dashes that had been converted to en dashes was one thing that troubled me in particular.

But it got worse.

On any line where an italicized word appeared, the line height of that line increased by a factor of close to two. The only way I found to combat that was by increasing my line height by 150% using HTML (via the Calibre exploded directory). Doing that really only disguised the problem a little bit. If a Nook Simple Touch reader increased the line height setting to the highest level, none of the line heights expand UNLESS that line has an italicized word on it.

So I bought a Simple Touch and downloaded dozens of sample books. Most have this problem figured out. When the line height is increased on the Simple Touch, ALL of the lines increase in height. But again, for me, only lines with italics increase.

I've already addressed em dashes in another thread, but really, this thing with line spacing is driving me even more batty. Mind you, if a user selects the check mark for "publisher's default," I'm golden. But hardly anyone does that. Almost everyone chooses to narrow the margins and increase the line height.

Anyone else had a problem with this? In Word, I've tried everything for line spacing, but it ain't working. Lines with italics are giving me fits.

Thanks for any thoughts or advice,

Greg
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Old 07-13-2012, 03:27 AM   #2
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Quite frankly, why should you care? If a reader chooses to ignore the stylesheets defined in the ePUB (publisher's default), that is their choice. If that results in the document not being what they expect, they need to solve it themselves. The creator/publisher has a vision of the book (at least that is what you hope) and that should work.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:38 AM   #3
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Some embedded fonts do this on occasion for me.

Helen
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Old 07-13-2012, 11:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuthorGreg View Post
But when I got to the Nook Simple Touch, I was horrified to see some really terrible stuff: Em dashes that had been converted to en dashes was one thing that troubled me in particular.

I've already addressed em dashes in another thread,
Wait a minute. I know the Nook Simple Touch overrides ePub styles with its own defaults (unless you enable publisher defaults), but I'm not quite following what you're saying here. Are you saying that the NST (out of the box) actually alters content by converting emdashes to endashes? Or do you mean that the default font used by the NST simply utilizes a smaller emdash character that's more endash-like than most other fonts? There's a big difference I would think.

Where is this other thread you mentioned?
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Old 07-13-2012, 03:19 PM   #5
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Wait a minute. I know the Nook Simple Touch overrides ePub styles with its own defaults (unless you enable publisher defaults), but I'm not quite following what you're saying here. Are you saying that the NST (out of the box) actually alters content by converting emdashes to endashes? Or do you mean that the default font used by the NST simply utilizes a smaller emdash character that's more endash-like than most other fonts? There's a big difference I would think.

Where is this other thread you mentioned?
Look in the Calibre Conversion section, thread titled "Dreaded Em Dashes."

Here's what I am seeing: If I format an ePub using either Calibre or Sigil, that ePub displays beautifully on Adobe Digital Editions, the online Pubit! previewer, the Nook Desktop PC viewers, as well as on the Nook Color, and every other Nook device EXCEPT the Simple Touch.

Another funny thing. If I use Calibre and convert an AZW or PRC file to ePub, then the Simple Touch preserves true (sticky) em dashes. That'd be a good way to solve that problem, but unfortunately, aside from the em dashes, the final ePub looks pretty shoddy.

I'll admit I got a little too wrapped around the axle about this Simple Touch thing. But when I see that the Big-6 Publishers know the recipe for uniform display across multiple devices, and I see that my books look like crap on the Simple Touch when the user overrides the publisher default, well, it bothers me.

The Simple Touch has been out for over a year now. As I don't sell near as many books on the Nook as I do the Kindle, I guess I can live with this mess until I figure out the formatting secrets of the Big-Six.

Greg
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Old 07-13-2012, 04:51 PM   #6
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If the user overrides the defaults, than that is the end for you. You cannot influence that anymore.
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Old 07-13-2012, 05:16 PM   #7
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If the user overrides the defaults, than that is the end for you. You cannot influence that anymore.
I don't know about that. As I've mentioned previously, the Big-Six books I've sampled on the Simple Touch display pretty well even if the margins are at their narrowest and the line heights at their largest. The Sigil ePub I'm working on now is kind of odd -- it displays the same line heights no matter what the user does. This stuff gets confusing, and there are too many variables involved to really nail down what works and what doesn't...
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Old 07-13-2012, 05:22 PM   #8
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Post a sample ePub that shows the problem on the nook and I'm sure someone here can figure it out. But two words of warning. STAY THE HECK AWAY FROM WORD! DO NOT LET YOUR eBooks GET INFECTED BY THE VIRUS THAT IS WORD!
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Old 07-13-2012, 06:08 PM   #9
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Well, I don't know why you couldn't do editing in Word and save it as a text file (grin).
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Old 07-13-2012, 06:25 PM   #10
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Well, I don't know why you couldn't do editing in Word and save it as a text file (grin).
Because then you'd be better off doing the editing in a good text editor applying the HTML code as you go. But from what was said in another thread, the books are already written. They just need to be converted and formatted as eBooks. But the OP doesn't have a clue what to do which is why he is using Word.
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Old 07-13-2012, 06:27 PM   #11
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AuthorGreg, if these eBooks are not originally in Word, then I suggest you take everything you've done in Word and delete it and start over, not using Word, but instead using Sigil.
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Old 07-13-2012, 06:56 PM   #12
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Well, I have lots of clues, just not the knowledge you have.

Here's my frustration: I use Word 2010, saving everything in Word 97-2003 format, using styles for everything. You won't find tons of garbage because of this (no big areas of white space and long rows of page breaks). Using MobiPocket, I create PRC files that, after being converted by Amazon to AZW, display PERFECTLY, as intended, on every single Kindle device in use. No loss of em dashes, no screwed up ellipses, no inconsistent line heights in a single book.

EPUB, it turns out, is a whole different ballgame. It isn't a friendly playing partner with Word, which I suppose is why you have such a distaste for Word.

Hell, I'm anal enough that if I thought re-writing everything in Sigil would help, I'd do it. I'm a perfectionist, enough so that if I were 100% certain that Sigil would preserve my intended formatting, I'd be all over it.

I tried using Sigil for this current project, using tips given by an author on the Web, and it didn't work out. I've had to settle for what Calibre will give me.

If anyone would like to see my Word or ePub files, I'd have no problem sharing them. The book has long been published on Amazon and in paperback that I wouldn't worry of thievery, not that anyone would try.

All that aside, I am convinced the Simple Touch has a lot of display faults.

I'm willing to learn. I'm not in love with Word. Writing a book in HTML, though, especially fiction, seems quite a chore, one that would definitely stem creativity. But if there's something I'm missing about your method of writing, I'm all ears, my friend.

Thanks a lot, you guys!

Greg
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:14 PM   #13
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I'm willing to learn. I'm not in love with Word. Writing a book in HTML, though, especially fiction, seems quite a chore, one that would definitely stem creativity. But if there's something I'm missing about your method of writing, I'm all ears, my friend.
Don't stress overly about Word. It's true, that many people who make ebooks don't like dealing with word's html output (filtered or otherwise). Heck, I'm even one of 'em. But a lot of us ebook makers and tweakers also have to realize that (for the most part) we're not actually the ones writing the content that goes in the little buggers. And frankly, the expectation that writers should altogether stop using Word to create their books is fairly unrealistic. Until there's a word processing/book creation package that make perfect, clean html with sensible CSS... well... we're just going to have to get over ourselves and realize that Word output is just going to have to be dealt with for quite some time, yet.
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:39 PM   #14
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Do you guys who write in HTML exclusively have any links or books on the subject of just HOW you go about this? I mean, is there a way to write creatively without spending too much time along the way with HTML tags for non-breaking ellipses, italics, em-dashes, and the like.

I'm eager to learn, guys. Lay it on me!

Greg
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:55 PM   #15
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Do you guys who write in HTML exclusively have any links or books on the subject of just HOW you go about this? I mean, is there a way to write creatively without spending too much time along the way with HTML tags for non-breaking ellipses, italics, em-dashes, and the like.
I think you'll find that a lot of people here don't actually do a lot of writing. period. I think for the most part, the people who are in here a lot giving advice and answering questions are simply creating ebooks from other people's content. That's why there's still quite a bit of a disconnect between writing a book and creating an ebook. Writers enjoy the comfort of a familiar, powerful word processing package... but ebook creators despise the extraneous, convoluted code those programs produce that they're then saddled with making an ebook from.

I don't think there's an easy answer here. But I will say; no.... I certainly don't think writers should be expected to create in html. That's not realistic or fair. There is some word processing software that will produce better html than Word, but I don't think there's enough of a pronounced improvement from Word (I'm including Open Office) that would justify asking the writer to alter their creative process.

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