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Old 02-06-2019, 07:30 PM   #1
maximus83
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Kepub format questions

I've been hearing a few things about the Kobo .kepub format but cannot find a lot of information on it.

* What features or capabilities, if any, do you get from .kepub on a Kobo device, that you wouldn't get from a Calibre-generated .epub file?

* How do you 'convert' a liberated .epub file to the .kepub format? I don't see options for this in Calibre.
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Old 02-06-2019, 08:48 PM   #2
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Advantages to Kepub:

Much faster response to page turns. Kobos are better at this with normal epubs than they used to be, but the difference is still noticeable.. and is massive for books with graphic content.

Ability to Zoom (and pan) on Images.. Great for maps, or pictures with small print text.

Much more responsive to text selection, if you like to make annotations or text excerpts.

Better image display, with a fine grained dither that makes the e-ink 16 shakes of grey look just like a full greyscale image.

Reading Time estimate,, see the mostly accurate remaining time to read the current chapter, the entire book, as well as as a graphic chart that shows the relative length of chapters.

Footnote links will pop up as a window, instead of jumping around to a different page in the book. Also, the small footnote links are much easier to press without accidentally turning the page.

Font selection will fall back to a font that has any missing glyphs. That means, books with unusual or foreign language Unicode characters will display properly, even if the font is not embedded in the book (assuming they are supported on Kobo, I don't think Arabic languages are there yet.) This is about the only Kepub advantage left that I consider vital (I have a number of books affected by the Kobo's innability to handle this i n regular Epub)

As for converting, it's as simple as installing the KoboTouchExtended, KePub Metadata Reader and KePub Metadata Writer plugins. Calibre will automatically convert epubs to Kepubs on the fly when you use Calibre to send books to the device.

You can, optionally, install a Kepub Output Plugin in Calibre, that will allow you to convert to a Kepub that will be stored in your Library, but I don't see much point in doing so. It will only take up disk space, and will force the books through the entire Calibre conversion process, which might have detrimental or unexpected effects on the formatting if you aren't familiar with all the fiddly options.

Last edited by rashkae; 02-06-2019 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 02-06-2019, 09:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rashkae View Post
As for converting, it's as simple as installing the KoboTouchExtended, KePub Metadata Reader and KePub Metadata Writer plugins. Calibre will automatically convert epubs to Kepubs on the fly when you use Calibre to send books to the device.
You only need the KoboTouchExtended driver. The metadata reader and writer plugins are only needed if you want to keep kepubs in the calibre library.
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Old 02-06-2019, 09:32 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info, that cleared it up.

For heaven's sake, why did Kobo create yet another proprietary format? Don't need to answer, I know the answer, just ranting out of frustration. I love some of their devices, but then you have to jump thru hoops to buy books from them or other sources, liberate them, convert to epub, then re-kepubify to get them sideloaded back onto the device. And then of course you've lost all the ability to do any kind of cloud sync of your notes and reading positions across devices.

Really makes me not want to buy their devices.....they're not one nit better than what Amazon is doing with Kindle, with the sole exception that they support more formats of other kinds. Using 'support' loosely, as in kind of a 2nd class experience on the other formats.
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Old 02-06-2019, 09:37 PM   #5
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In addition to everything rashkae mentioned:

Kepubs support fast page flip, which is quite useful when looking for a page.

Kepubs support footnote previews.

Kepubs have epub3 support.

An alternative to the Calibre plugin is kepubify, which is quite a bit faster, works from the command line and scripts, can update series metadata without needing to manage your whole library (this feature can be used on its own too), supports syncing a dir with your kobo, and is standalone. Note that kepubify is not for you if you use calibre heavily or want to convert from formats other than epub, as I haven't finished the calibre plugin yet.
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Old 02-06-2019, 09:43 PM   #6
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Really makes me not want to buy their devices.....they're not one nit better than what Amazon is doing with Kindle, with the sole exception that they support more formats of other kinds. Using 'support' loosely, as in kind of a 2nd class experience on the other formats.
IMO, Kobos are way better than almost every other brand, especially Kindle. Their firmware is more customizable (and fun to patch), they have a cleaner interface, they at least support other formats, and some of the kepub features are quite nice. I wish they didn't implement their own epub version, but I see the reasons why they did that (and probably would do it myself if I were them). Their kobo spans are a lot easier to handle than CFIs and also make it way easier to implement some of their other features. Also, they don't have much control over Adobe's RMSDK, and this is a nice way to balance compatibility (RMSDK is the most widely used) with extra features (using a different file extension) and ease of implementation. Also, they didn't deviate from epub too much, and it was pretty easy (and fun) to write a converter.
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Old 02-06-2019, 10:00 PM   #7
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IMO, Kobos are way better than almost every other brand, especially Kindle. Their firmware is more customizable (and fun to patch), they have a cleaner interface, they at least support other formats, and some of the kepub features are quite nice. I wish they didn't implement their own epub version, but I see the reasons why they did that (and probably would do it myself if I were them). Their kobo spans are a lot easier to handle than CFIs and also make it way easier to implement some of their other features. Also, they don't have much control over Adobe's RMSDK, and this is a nice way to balance compatibility (RMSDK is the most widely used) with extra features (using a different file extension) and ease of implementation. Also, they didn't deviate from epub too much, and it was pretty easy (and fun) to write a converter.
That's good to know. I guess as long as there are tools out there like Calibre and "kepubify", the devices are still pretty viable. If those tools were not available, the Kobo would lose a significant degree of its value prop (to me, at least), since the support for other file formats is not as good as the functionality on 'native' kepub files. I guess they're not running a charity here, so one cannot expect first class support for every file format.
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Old 02-06-2019, 10:11 PM   #8
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The only problem I have with both Kobo and Kindle implementing their own file formats is.... they don't release documentation for those formats, requiring enthusiasts to spend much time working it out in reverse.

There's no reason for that,, it's just petty vindictiveness against their customers who don't use the device they *purchased* solely as a portal to their store.
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Old 02-06-2019, 10:23 PM   #9
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The only problem I have with both Kobo and Kindle implementing their own file formats is.... they don't release documentation for those formats, requiring enthusiasts to spend much time working it out in reverse.

There's no reason for that,, it's just petty vindictiveness against their customers who don't use the device they *purchased* solely as a portal to their store.
Well, I agree with that statement about Amazon, but Kobo has not done anything to make it harder for us. As for documentation, making it would make it appear officially supported, which it isn't. The format itself isn't that hard to figure out though. It is basically just some numbered spans around main punctuation, and a few obvious properties in content.opf. Most of my time spend with Kobo stuff is for the patches, but I enjoy doing it (it's also good for practising assembly stuff), and it's useful.
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Old 02-06-2019, 10:27 PM   #10
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I'm not actually sure if I'd say that kepub is a proprietary format; I believe it's little more than a standard Epub format with added spans, and the spans were for how Kobo implemented bookmarks / location saving.

Some documentation can be found at https://github.com/kobolabs/epub-spec (albeit without mention of the spans)

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Old 02-07-2019, 12:17 PM   #11
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So, I took the advice of folks on this thread, it worked wonders.

1. Installed the KoboTouchExtended plugin.
2. In my "custom calibre library" (books that I have liberated and converted to clean epubs), I connected my Forma and synced all books to the device.

That works. Most of the books now implement all the nicest Kobo features, which I was missing before. Thanks for the tips in this thread. Man, for new Kobo users, it might be worth having a sticky thread like "How to manage books on your Kobo using Calibre" or something. Maybe there is such a thread and I just missed it, but I did try the search and only found bits and pieces. It was not easy to figure out which plugin to use, that I don't need to re-convert the books to kepub, etc., without this thread.
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Old 02-07-2019, 01:33 PM   #12
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There are a few cons that are worth mentioning. Formatting of kepub is not as technically correct as the Epub software. Measurements especially are greatly off, (ie, indents or margins defined in inches, or pt.) Line spacing is forced to be a little larger, so there is more wasted space for people who like text very compressed. And page numbering when displaying progress for the entire book will be bonkers on some books, (in particular, books with a page break within a chapter, or which otherwise have incomple Table of Contents.)
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Old 02-07-2019, 04:01 PM   #13
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So which one is better - KoboTouchExtended plugin or kepubify?
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Old 02-07-2019, 04:36 PM   #14
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So which one is better - KoboTouchExtended plugin or kepubify?
It really depends on your needs and priorities. Kepubify and KTE have different goals. Note that I might be a bit biased (although I try not to) in this comparison though, as I wrote kepubify, and haven't used KTE for a bit over a year.

Kepubify aims to be fast, correct (as in being as close as possible to normal kepubs), scriptable, simple, easy-to-use, non-bloated, and provides fixes for many common kepub bugs. It also doesn't need to manage your whole library to work properly.

KTE is slower, but better integrated with Calibre (though kepubify will be getting plugin sometime this year). In addition, it supports the whole range of conversion options Calibre has. Some people also find it easier to use, as everything can be done from a GUI.

You can also use a mix of the two if you prefer. You can use kepubify to convert your books to kepub, but KTE to manage syncing them with your kobo. Also, kepubify comes with a standalone seriesmeta tool to update series metadata on all your books even if you don't use calibre to manage them.

I personally use kepubify, as I have a large library, I manage all the ebook metadata using my own tools, I use my BookBrowser to browse my books, I like having control over every aspect of the conversion, and I dislike the way Calibre manages everything it's own way. I also have automated the conversion and syncing of my books. I just have the following command run using udev when I plug in my kobo: kepubify -uo "$(kobo-find -wf)/kepubify" ~/Books.

Also, I'm going to be working on kepubify v3 soon. You can see my current plans and make suggestions/requests here: https://github.com/geek1011/kepubify/issues/34

Last edited by geek1011; 02-07-2019 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:03 PM   #15
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I think the main positive thing is you get a _second_ renderer! (Without having to install Koreader, Coolreader, Plato, etc.).

For me, that creates quite a lot of ebooks (for myself, mainly because I want to read a lot of stuff on the best reading device I got, but also because I find it a bit fun), when I want to do some feature, I google and read how you can do it, when I look in the ade-renderer, it rarely support the feature, but the kepub-renderer almost always does.
For me, that is a really big advantage.

(Side comment, now with my new Pocketbook I'm back to find other solutions.... arghh.... I see a Forma in my future. )
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