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Old 02-02-2011, 08:27 AM   #1
John123
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Using Sigil to produce ebooks

Hi All,

I am complete newbie to this forum, so please be gentle

I am a typesetter using very obscure typesetting software. I have tried using InDesign/Quark but my background is, initially, hot metal compositor then code driven phototypesetting machines from the very early '80s and all flavours of book production in between.

Going by the publishers I deal with, it would seem now that epub has it's nose out in front, when it comes to the many reading devices available for ebooks. I have been doing ebooks in PDF format for a few years now. But there seems to be a lot of issues with Calibre. I know epub won't present as well as the PDF ebook. But there must be some way of producing a well-presented ebook without a huge amount of effort.

I can't find any commercial software that will produce an epub ebook simply. Sigil seems to be the only program that takes care of producing an epub ebook with any sort of efficiency.

I am using an editor/typesetting program which has fairly powerful search and replace routines and would like to keep using it. However, on cutting and pasting (importing a txt file drops the hard returns??), into Sigil it doesn't use the HTML tags I've inserted. Viewing the epub file in Adobe Digital Editions doesn't use the tags either. However, when I view the file on a reading device, in my case an iPhone, the codes seem to work.

Any help would be most appreciated and apologies for the lengthy preamble.

Many thanks in advance.

John.
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:50 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John123 View Post
Hi All,

I am complete newbie to this forum, so please be gentle

I am a typesetter using very obscure typesetting software. I have tried using InDesign/Quark but my background is, initially, hot metal compositor then code driven phototypesetting machines from the very early '80s and all flavours of book production in between.

I am using an editor/typesetting program which has fairly powerful search and replace routines and would like to keep using it. However, on cutting and pasting (importing a txt file drops the hard returns??), into Sigil it doesn't use the HTML tags I've inserted. Viewing the epub file in Adobe Digital Editions doesn't use the tags either. However, when I view the file on a reading device, in my case an iPhone, the codes seem to work.


John.
A real Hot metal typsetter... (I ran a Linotype in High School. hear a bell... Lift feet )

If you are cutting and pasting HTML code (from outside Sigil):
1) you need to be in Code View (CV).
2) the corresponding stylesheet needs to have been imported or merged into the existing one. (Either works )

I would not choose the current Sigil as a initial 'Production' tool (lack of spelling, easy font control...), But it is a Great 'touch-up' tool. Calibre is a Library manager and format conversion tool, not a production creation tool.

Not a production guy here
IMHO start with a word processor that will produce clean-simple HTML (avoiding, EPUB non-compliant features) and stylesheets. Start from there Sigil (or Calibre) work best with (x)HTML
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:43 AM   #3
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Sometimes you just don't see the wood for the trees!

You worked a Linotype machine. We had to use these as part of the apprenticeship many, many, moons ago! They were mainly used for newspaper production. I was a Monotype compositor which was generally used for books.

When staring at a frozen screen, after many hours of unsaved work, I often hanker back to the old days!!! Unfortunately, books would cost a small fortune if we did.

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Old 02-02-2011, 12:38 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum, John!

If you are working on Windows OS (you did mention "frozen screens" ), the Atlantis word processor is inexpensive, has good support, and does a good job of exporting a basic epub from Word docs or rtfs, suitable for tweaking with sigil.

http://www.atlantiswordprocessor.com/en/

Another, multi-platform, solution is OpenOffice.org with the "writer2epub" extension, which will also create a basic epub suitable for tweaking in sigil. It will also (IMHO) create much cleaner .xhtml files than does MS Word, in case you want to go that route.

http://www.openoffice.org/ for the software, and see the following forum on MoblieRead for discussion of the writer2epub extension.
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=230

On a more subjective note, I am puzzled by your statement that

Quote:
I know epub won't present as well as the PDF ebook.
In my experience, PDF's are much more difficult to read on a reading device, or especially on a smartphone or PDA, because they do not reflow. They are great for presenting the exact appearance of the printed page on screen, but that's not what you want on an ebook reading device. I wonder if you have been trying to use calibre to convert PDFs to epubs. If so, that's bound to be frustrating. PDF is hands-down the worst choice as starting material for conversion to epub.

Your typesetting experience naturally leads you to think in terms of printed pages. That concept won't work for ebooks. Loosely speaking, there is no concept of "page" in that sense, because various devices have different screen sizes, adjustable type sizes, etc. The document has to re-flow to fit the screen, because you can't know in advance what device it's going to be displayed on.

Others can probably explain it better.
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Old 02-02-2011, 03:25 PM   #5
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Hi,

Thanks for the welcome!

Yeah, I'll look at the Open Office route. But I'd really like to keep using my current editor and using it to clean out the typesetting commands etc. by using it's search and replace routines. Then dumping this into Sigil and saving as an epub book.

Regarding my statement about epub not presenting as well as PDF or, indeed, the printed page. I was referring to aesthetics. Which I now realize is silly given what we're trying to do with ebooks. So I should just think of it as supplying words and spaces in as tidy, and compliant (W3), a way as possible.
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Old 02-02-2011, 04:17 PM   #6
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One thing you might consider is looking at making an epub by hand. (not all the time, but once or twice to familiarize yourself with the internal structure) I find it has helped me a lot in figuring out issues I've had.

This site has a great tutorial in my opinion.
http://www.jedisaber.com/eBooks/tutorial.asp
at the moment though it appears to be down. If it doesn't come back it is archived at www.archive.org
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Old 02-02-2011, 06:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Regarding my statement about epub not presenting as well as PDF or, indeed, the printed page. I was referring to aesthetics. Which I now realize is silly given what we're trying to do with ebooks. So I should just think of it as supplying words and spaces in as tidy, and compliant (W3), a way as possible.
Aesthetics are still there; very much so. Epub is a pretty rich format. As you get into it, you will see lots of things you can do. For example, check out the epub version of J. K. Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat" which you can find here:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=48377

You just have to think more like a web designer instead of a book designer.

On these forums you will find lots and lots of ideas and help.
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Old 02-02-2011, 11:54 PM   #8
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What you're attempting to do with the editor you're accustomed to should work - you might want to provide some more details about what went wrong when you copied and pasted over to Sigil - maybe provide a sample file. Maybe the problem is the type of line endings you used.

Regarding html tags not being acknowledged, what you're saying sounds pretty strange. Again more details would help. Note that epub doesn't support all html in the same way a browser does. Some epub renderers are based directly on browsers though - ibooks is based on Safari, Sigil is based on QTWebkit. Therefore they may render things that wouldn't get normally rendered in a completely compliant app. The best way to test compliance in terms of rendering is with Adobe Digital Editions. It's not perfect either, but it follows the spec more closely than other pieces of software, and many ebook reading devices use Adobe's engine for epub.
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Old 02-03-2011, 03:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by st_albert View Post
Aesthetics are still there; very much so. Epub is a pretty rich format. As you get into it, you will see lots of things you can do. For example, check out the epub version of J. K. Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat" which you can find here:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=48377

You just have to think more like a web designer instead of a book designer.

On these forums you will find lots and lots of ideas and help.
One might also visit: http://www.epubzengarden.com to get a very preliminary sense of what can be done. To say that ePUB will not "present as well as" a PDF ebook...well, noob, them's fightin' words.

HTH,
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:05 AM   #10
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Atlantis exports also quite good epubs - "just" in html - but after a short loading (save the toc before out of the epub) in Sigil there all xhtml-files, the correct folder structure in the epub...
only some little additions in the toc - and ready ist the nearly perfect ebook...
(ok, little more work, if you want tables, dropcaps, smallcaps, but for "normal" books works ist fine...
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