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Old 11-21-2012, 08:27 AM   #1
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Metadata book description

Hi all. I've been using Sigil to cleanup an epub generated out of OpenOffice. It does a great job, makes it very easy to tidy up the styles etc so that everything is nice and clean and tidy. ... But now I'm moving on to the metadata requirements.

According to what I've read the Description field should be used to store the book blurb - but my blurb is three paragraphs, and these get merged into one if I paste them into the Sigil metadata editor (and then go out and come back in again). I imagine I could enter three description fields - but how can I be certain that this will be handled correctly be software reading the epub? Is there a rule for how this is usually done? (As far as I can by researching other epubs the rule is either one paragraph only, or even more common, no description at all.)

This next bit is not really a Sigil specific question, but I thought I'd drop it in while I was here and hope you won't mind. I'm having trouble finding any conventions regarding what goes in some of the fields and how - and which fields really matter (rights, and subject etc.). Any pointers/links to where I might find useful examples would be appreciated. I've already researched several "professionally" produced epubs, and as far as I can tell the rule is make up what you want and stick it in, let the end user worry about it.
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Old 11-21-2012, 12:01 PM   #2
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I use xml escaped html in my description field (if I put anything at all).

Code:
<p>This is the first paragraph.</p><p>And this is the second paragraph.</p>
I have no idea if there are readers/apps that can't deal with it, but I've seen it in a lot of commercial ebooks.

I've also found that many readers like setting the Subject and Description metadata tags themselves. So most of the time, I don't include anything at all for those fields. Those that care about them are going to make them their own anyway, and those that don't care about them ... well ... they don't care about them.
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:47 PM   #3
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I don't know of any e-readers that make much use of the metadata. I always thought perhaps the distributors (at least potentially) fished it out of the file and added it to the corresponding ONIX database entry for that book.

Of course, Calibre will let you see and edit the metadata, but IMHO it's not really an e-reader software, but a library tool.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:07 PM   #4
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Thanks for your comments.

DiapDealer, I just tried the XML escaping. I notice the e-book viewer that comes with Calibre shows these as literal '<p>' characters in it's display, it doesn't actually use them for formatting. Don't know what others do. I see my Sony 650 doesn't seem to show the description field at all (or anything much except the title and author).

st_albert, it was largely because I thought that distributors (etc.) might use the fields that I wanted to try and get them right. However the more I look the more I think that distributors must not use them because they are rarely supplied with enough consistency (if at all) to make them useful.
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:36 PM   #5
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Yes, actually the distributors we use tend to require the (usually minimal) metadata to be entered manually by us, either in an online form, or via a spreadsheet or ONIX record. Probably easier for them to get consistent data that way.
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:43 AM   #6
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I use the html-codes (without escaping) - mostly very minimalistic, such as <p></p> and various list-codes - just as I use them on my webpage and in my distributor's interface, and it shows up ok both in Calibre and the vendor's webpages.

It seems that most - or all - reader programs/devices (that I know of) doesn't use the description anyway.

Regards,

Kim
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Old 11-25-2012, 04:15 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
I imagine I could enter three description fields - but how can I be certain that this will be handled correctly be software reading the epub?
You can't, because different readers will act different anyway, and I guess most will just ignore it.

I use simply line feeds for paragraphs inside <dc:description>. I don't know if you can do this with Sigil's metadata editor directly, but you can probably by hand-editing the OPF file.

Quote:
I've already researched several "professionally" produced epubs, and as far as I can tell the rule is make up what you want and stick it in, let the end user worry about it.
That sums it up pretty well. You'll sometimes find series, author and publisher all crowded in the title tag, or all authors, editors and illustrators in a single creator tag...
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Old 11-25-2012, 06:28 AM   #8
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Thanks for your thoughts, everyone.

What I ended up doing was creating a super-condensed single-paragraph description. As st_albert noted, the distributors asked me for the full details when I uploaded the book (and it was those full details which showed up on Amazon, still waiting to see what other places do). But at least anyone that does look at the metadata will get something a bit useful if they look for it.
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Old 11-25-2012, 10:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
DiapDealer, I just tried the XML escaping. I notice the e-book viewer that comes with Calibre shows these as literal '<p>' characters in it's display, it doesn't actually use them for formatting.
That's odd. On my system, it (calibre) renders the html as expected (in the Book Details as well as the viewer's metadata). The only way I can see the 'raw' characters is by switching to the source tab in calibre's metadata editor. *shrugs*

EDIT: Actually, I think I know what's going on. You can enter the html directly into Sigil's metadata editor and and it will take care of xml escaping the data in the OPF file. If you entered xml escaped html into Sigil's metadata editor, that explains what you're seeing. You're ending up with a double-escaped mess. You should only worry about xml escaping if you edit your ePubs manually (no Sigil). My bad for not being clear.
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Old 11-25-2012, 06:33 PM   #10
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Ah... I see. Yes, I had entered the XML stuff through Sigil - a bit silly of me not to realise that Sigil would escape it (that's what we'd normally want and expect it to do, I didn't think it through). Thanks for the follow-up, DiapDealer.
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:47 AM   #11
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I thought it worth adding...

Even though I gave my distributor three paragraphs of book description, not all resellers get it right anyway. Amazon shows it as three paragraphs, but the others (so far) have merged the three paragraphs into one anyway (and one even screwed up the two hyphens in the text). So much for trying to get it right.
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