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Old 07-28-2009, 10:26 PM   #1
human
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Question Question for iphone/itouch readers

I'm working on creating ebooks for a very small publishing start-up. The ebooks have lots of pictures and embedded links, and they work beautifully in Mobipocket format. Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time preserving the quality when I move to other formats. Stanza makes everything plain text, and I have formatting issues when I use Calibre to convert to epub. I'm wondering if there's an iPhone app-reader that could display a .prc file as-is or if there's a workaround (without suggesting that readers jailbreak their phones)?

I erroneously thought that the Kindle emailing feature would work for iPhones, which dashed my plans A-B. If at all possible, I'd like to avoid using the Kindle store.

I'm wondering if the fine minds here have any suggestions of what I might try?
(thank you for reading this!)
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Old 07-28-2009, 11:22 PM   #2
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BookShelf, perhaps? I think it would be in your best interest if you try to get a working ePub available, though.

What specific problems are you encountering when using Calibre to convert to ePub? What source format are you using? The (internal) links should be easily handled. It's the images that are difficult to incorporate due to the iPhone's small screen.
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Old 07-29-2009, 11:55 AM   #3
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There are other options: Some people have created individual books as stand-alone apps. You could look for other formats with good graphics and hyperlink support, iSilo comes to mind, but the potential audience would be VERY limited.

Stanza and eReader certainly seem to be the most used readers, and eReader seems to be a pain to work with, so if you want to reach a broad audience, getting the ePUB working would be the best bet. Not to mention, that would mean a working solution on lots of platforms, not just the iPhone/iTouch.

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Old 07-29-2009, 01:06 PM   #4
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Unhappy Frustration Ensues (sorry in advance for the venting!)

Thanks for your comments and help so far!

It does seem like epub is the best way to go. Unfortunately, I can't afford to buy a copy of InDesign, which seems to be the way to have true control in designing the ebook (or at least one that's not just text, but both images and links). My publishing partner feels strongly about making our books pleasant to look at and easy to read -- and I just can't seem to figure out a way to do either of those things with the tools that are currently out there.

To be honest, I'm more than a little frustrated that the industry standard (epub) seems to be so difficult for a publisher to create . If there's going to be an industry standard, I think we need a standard, user-friendly way to create the file. Calibre messes up the formatting of both images and paragraphs, and there's no affordable program to create an epub with original coding. Forget about reflowable text and images. The mobipocket creator does all of these things from a word file (which most of our authors using in writing their works) -- with no fuss or muss.

Then there's the problem of actually getting the file to open in ereader, stanza, or the kindle app. If the process is more than a few steps, I doubt we'll have many readers at all -- especially not anyone who's relatively new to ebooks.

Can we wonder why publishers are relying on the Kindle format so thoroughly or not offering ebooks at all? I've been researching and testing this for months -- even bought an iPod Touch just to test the books I'm creating. What a waste it's all been so far!
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by human View Post
Thanks for your comments and help so far!

It does seem like epub is the best way to go. Unfortunately, I can't afford to buy a copy of InDesign, which seems to be the way to have true control in designing the ebook (or at least one that's not just text, but both images and links). My publishing partner feels strongly about making our books pleasant to look at and easy to read -- and I just can't seem to figure out a way to do either of those things with the tools that are currently out there.

To be honest, I'm more than a little frustrated that the industry standard (epub) seems to be so difficult for a publisher to create . If there's going to be an industry standard, I think we need a standard, user-friendly way to create the file. Calibre messes up the formatting of both images and paragraphs, and there's no affordable program to create an epub with original coding. Forget about reflowable text and images. The mobipocket creator does all of these things from a word file (which most of our authors using in writing their works) -- with no fuss or muss.

Then there's the problem of actually getting the file to open in ereader, stanza, or the kindle app. If the process is more than a few steps, I doubt we'll have many readers at all -- especially not anyone who's relatively new to ebooks.

Can we wonder why publishers are relying on the Kindle format so thoroughly or not offering ebooks at all? I've been researching and testing this for months -- even bought an iPod Touch just to test the books I'm creating. What a waste it's all been so far!
The best way I've found to make an Epub from scratch is to first make the ebook in Mobipocket Creator, and then use calibre to convert the ebook. Creation is not calibre's strength, conversion is. I've also found that using calibre on the project files generated by MobiCreator is a close second in quality.

The fact that you're having trouble with the same process piques my curiosity, and I'd like to help.

I've worked from DOC a few times, and my preferred system is to first use Open Office to convert the DOC to html and then do a lot of find&replace to clean it up. I've never actually allowed MobiCreator to process the DOC automatically. I wonder if that step might introduce errors?
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Old 07-29-2009, 02:20 PM   #6
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Well, without knowing what your work flow looks like, or what you want it to look like, here are some other options:

http://code.google.com/p/epub-tools/ (includes Word file conversions)
http://www.lexcycle.com/faq/how_to_create_epub (offers a variety of options)

Several small publishers are using www.smashwords.com to convert and distribute their books in a variety of formats. Here, again, I don't think the conversion process is customizable, so I don't know how well the results will meet your needs.

Several people have discussed the fact that the ePUB file is simply a zipped XML collection, so it may work best for your particular needs to approach it from that standpoint, use some tools to get you close and edit the XML to get the actual results you want. You might try http://www.snee.com/bobdc.blog/2008/...pub-files.html for some ideas along those lines.

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Old 07-29-2009, 03:21 PM   #7
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Yep, ePUB is basically a zip file with the extension changed to .epub containing some text, xml and xhtml files. True, there's a lack of free/inexpensive editors/creator, but it's possible to make one using just notepad (or other plain text editor) and a zip creator assuming you have some knowledge of XML and XHTML.

First things first, though. How are you copying the created files over to Stanza for iPhone/iPod Touch? Instead of using Stanza Desktop, I would suggest using Calibre's content server, instead. Second, Stanza iPhone, is set not to display styles by default. You can change that by going to Settings » Layout » Display Styles while inside the ebook. Third, don't use just Stanza to test your ePUB. It's not really the best at ePUB rendering and coupled with the iPhone's small screen, well you get the picture. I suggest installing Adobe Digital Editions so you can view your ePUB files on the desktop.

As for getting the ebooks into Stanza, that's one of the easier parts, assuming the publisher has a web server where he can host the files. If you change the link to the ePUB file from http:// to stanza:// (e.g. stanza://www.whatever.com/mybook.epub), Safari will automatically open Stanza and download the file assuming Stanza's installed.

Another thing, have you tried using Word to save the .doc file into filtered HTML (in Office 2003, File » Save as Web Page » Web Page, Filtered) and using that to convert via Calibre?
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