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Old 01-02-2013, 02:09 PM   #1
ficbot
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Best way to make a well-formatted omnibus book?

I want to make an omnibus ebook of the Twins series by Lucy Fitch Perkins. Gutenberg has the first twelve books and I want to read them, so I thought it would be a good first project for me to make an ebook I can contribute to the community. I am unsure of the best way to proceed though given that some of the books have different formatting and styles. Some have illustrations and some do not. Some indent paragraphs and some do not.

I also want to have a table of contents for the whole volume, and then for each book to have its own too. This is a wish and not a need since the books are short enough that I suppose it doesn't matter much. But if it's easy to do, I feel I should.

So, how do I work with these books given the formatting issues? I was thinking I would use the Gutenberg HTML, cut and paste into Open Office to get plan text, and then paste into a Sigil file. Is there a better way?

Also, for the table of contents issue, i know how to use the headers in Sigil to generate a TOC but I am not sure how to do a sub-toc so each book has its own. Is it better to do each book one by one in Sigil the regular way and then use the merge ePub plug-in from Calibre to make the omnibus?

Also, does anybody have any suggestions for a website or free Mac app I could use to easily make some simple covers? I just want to be able to choose an image and then have text above and below it for title and author. Maybe when I am done I could find a volunteer here to do a nicer cover for the whole omnibus.

This will be my first contribution to the library, although I have used Sigil a little before to correct my bought ebooks. I hope others will enjoy the book when it is done and I welcome any suggestions for best way to proceed.
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:39 PM   #2
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You can import the HTML from Gutenberg directly into Sigil and then correct from there. In fact an ePub is made of multiple files so you can deal with the books separately even though they are all in one ePub. ePub is a zip file so you can always take it apart of you really need to. Sigil support an overall TOC and multilevel so you can have lower level book specific entries.

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Old 01-03-2013, 04:01 AM   #3
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In ePub there is a single (offline) TOC, but as Dale says, it is multi-level, and it will be displayed as an expandable tree in some readers.

And you can always add inline TOCs, i.e. normal HTML files that contain links to other parts of the book, wherever you want, as many as you want.
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:42 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
I want to make an omnibus ebook of the Twins series by Lucy Fitch Perkins. Gutenberg has the first twelve books and I want to read them, so I thought it would be a good first project for me to make an ebook I can contribute to the community. I am unsure of the best way to proceed though given that some of the books have different formatting and styles. Some have illustrations and some do not. Some indent paragraphs and some do not.
I suggest if I may that you work out a style manual for yourself before you start, and then modify the PG html accordingly. For example, if you prefer to have indented paragraphs it's not that hard to set your CSS to have all paragraphs indented. It might be laborious in that you may need to proof read the PG html, but I think it is worth it.

My preference is to include illustrations where possible. If the original books have illustrations but some PG books do not you might be able to find the missing illustrations on Internet Archive or Google images.

Beware though, designing ebooks can be addictive. It's certainly a very satisfying hobby.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:02 AM   #5
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Thanks for the tips, everyone. I definitely think it will be a rewarding hobby---I have experimented already with modifying a reference book I found which had errors in it. I am also thinking of putting together my own poetry compilation of favourite public domain poems.

I do want to standardize across the volumes. I think that since the books are fairly short, I will keep one book per 'file' in the Sigil file and just use heading codes to generate the table of contents. What I am inferring from your comments is that if I make the title of the book TITLE in heading 1 format, and then the chapter title as 'Chapter' in heading 2 format, that will make a nested TOC?

I appreciate the help. Any suggestions for an easy way to make a cover?
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:40 AM   #6
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Any suggestions for an easy way to make a cover?
Pick a painting that fits the book (theme, period, mood), either some painting you know or search the webs of museums and galleries. Download (or scan) the best version you can find. Add title and author in Photoshop or Gimp.
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:22 PM   #7
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if I make the title of the book TITLE in heading 1 format, and then the chapter title as 'Chapter' in heading 2 format, that will make a nested TOC?
Yes it will. I use heading 1 for the main book title (on the book's titlepage, e.g. "Granny's Big Fat Collection"), then heading 2 for individual book title / part 1,2,3 / etc. And use heading 3 for the actual chapters.

I know some folks don't include the main book title in the Sigil ToC, but it puts a top on the tree and satisfies my soul.

Last edited by GrannyGrump; 01-03-2013 at 10:29 PM.
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