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Old 08-03-2009, 04:12 AM   #1
KACartlidge began at the beginning.
Posts: 12
Karma: 24
Join Date: Aug 2009
Device: Sony Reader PR505
Thumbs up eBook PDF - free tool for creating PDF eBooks from text files

If you read plain text eBooks check out my site for my free tool ‘eBook PDF’. I don't know if I can post links, but my site is my name (KACartlidge) dot com (or if the link works). I knocked up this tool because I wanted a consistently formatted, simple PDF of my plain text eBooks and I also wanted a way to ensure the title/author metadata plus table of contents got created just how I liked them.

Using this free tool I’ve knocked up, you can create a decent PDF from any text file. More information is available on the eBook PDF page, but basically it will produce PDF’s sized how you want, with a font size you want, including metadata for title and author so your eBook reader can categorise it, with chapter breaks (the Sony Reader PR505 treats them as a table of contents) and optionally with styled sections that need to stand out.

The text files used can be run through as often as you want to create PDFs for different devices (eg. PC or eBook reader). There is a preset for the Sony Reader which fits perfectly and should offer a good amount of content per page without the need for scaling it. Having said that, devices like the Sony that can scale PDFs should be able to handle the PDFs nicely due to it’s simplicity.

Incidentally even if you don’t need to create PDFs this could still be useful as when it reads in a file it also re-wraps the text, trying to sensibly determine where paragraph breaks should be (still taking account of the original line breaks). This means that fixed-width files (like older text documents or some Project Gutenberg ones) are changed to variable-width files with one paragraph per line so anything that reads them, such as MS Word or Notepad, can then flow the paragraphs better visually on screen.

Finally, a quick word on why it only creates PDFs. You get maximum portability across computers, fine-control over layout, embedded metadata (title, author) which is a huge benefit for eBook readers, and on the Sony Reader PRS505 it seems the least memory and processor intensive option; they are scanned quickly and presented speedily too, whilst scaling seems far more efficient than RTF for example.

If you like it (or even hate it but still find it useful) all I ask is a mention on your blog or website if you have one, or a recommendation to someone else if you don’t.

Remember - it’s free so it does the job but don’t expect perfection. Any suggestions please let me know.

I have a version that produces RTF files but as they take so long (comparatively) both for readers to scan for metadata and also to reformat when you zoom, I'm not sure it's worth including. The nature of the input files to eBook PDF means the word-processor-like styling abilities of RTF are pretty much redundant, particularly bearing in mind that Wordpad and other free editors can easily produce RTF files anyway so the only benefit is my support of RTF metadata (for which on Windows you'd need Word not Wordpad). If enough people think I'm wrong, I can add it back in. Especially as I guess some reader devices may work better with RTF than PDF.

Incidentally, I'm also working on an ePub version. It currently produces ePubs that read fine in Calibre but not on the PRS500. I believe I know why, so it shouldn't be long to sort.

Last edited by KACartlidge; 08-03-2009 at 08:38 AM.
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