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Old 09-20-2021, 12:27 PM   #1
gryzor2327
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ebook rendering - calibre vs mobile device

Hi,

I am quite new into the business of producing ebooks, so I apologize in advance if my questions are going to be obvious or naive.

I have a history of producing PDF books, from latex. If that matters, I produce books in french, which are translations of brilliant volumes written in english in the past. My production is licensed under by-nc-sa (non-commercial) and my production is available for free.

I generate pdf with "pdflatex".
Now I have started focusing on generating ebooks (.ebook and .mobi). As I already have a number of source documents in latex, I am keeping this (and scripting where needed) so that the same source produces both pdf and ebook formats.

I have been using pandoc to generate .epub files. And I use calibre's "ebook-convert" utility to produce .mobi from the .epub I have.

I must say the general quality of the production is "good enough' from my profane eyes. But there are things I do not understand, and now here are my questions.

- When I open a epub book I have generated (with pandoc, based on latex source) with calibre, the rendering is just excellent. For instance, clicking a footnote opens a kind of popup, the footnote text ends with a "back link" to go back to where I was before following the footnote link. Also, I see no weird page numbers in the output.

- On the opposite, when I open the very same epub book I have generated with my mobile device (this is Kobo Aura), the rendering is not that excellent. It is generally good, I can scroll, etc. But following a footnote just drives me to its text, without a backlink. Also, some page numbers appear which seem to be fixed.

I don't undertand why the rendering is so different between calibre and the device itself. I don't know where to start in order to enhance the rendering on mobile device.

Any help about this would be greatly appreciated.
Hope this thread makes sense on this forum.

To be concrete, I am attaching an ebook from my production, which produces such effects.

Thanks,

Vincent
Attached Files
File Type: epub Russell-Grenfell_Haine-Inconditionnelle.epub (1.67 MB, 39 views)
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Old 09-20-2021, 01:02 PM   #2
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Use docx, import to Calibre and convert to epub.

Note you upload epub2 to Amazon and THEY convert to whichever Kindle format the customer has.

The ONLY format you need, except for Smashwords or friends is epub.

Footnotes are tricky and depend on app & device.
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Old 09-20-2021, 11:40 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gryzor2327 View Post
Hi,

I am quite new into the business of producing ebooks, so I apologize in advance if my questions are going to be obvious or naive.

I have a history of producing PDF books, from latex. If that matters, I produce books in french, which are translations of brilliant volumes written in english in the past. My production is licensed under by-nc-sa (non-commercial) and my production is available for free.

I generate pdf with "pdflatex".
Now I have started focusing on generating ebooks (.ebook and .mobi). As I already have a number of source documents in latex, I am keeping this (and scripting where needed) so that the same source produces both pdf and ebook formats.

I have been using pandoc to generate .epub files. And I use calibre's "ebook-convert" utility to produce .mobi from the .epub I have.

I must say the general quality of the production is "good enough' from my profane eyes. But there are things I do not understand, and now here are my questions.

- When I open a epub book I have generated (with pandoc, based on latex source) with calibre, the rendering is just excellent. For instance, clicking a footnote opens a kind of popup, the footnote text ends with a "back link" to go back to where I was before following the footnote link. Also, I see no weird page numbers in the output.

- On the opposite, when I open the very same epub book I have generated with my mobile device (this is Kobo Aura), the rendering is not that excellent. It is generally good, I can scroll, etc. But following a footnote just drives me to its text, without a backlink. Also, some page numbers appear which seem to be fixed.

I don't undertand why the rendering is so different between calibre and the device itself. I don't know where to start in order to enhance the rendering on mobile device.
To answer the last point first, the rendering is different for all ereader devices and apps. The specs about what should be done are not strong. Each developer decides exactly what to do and is heavily influenced by the libraries they use. For example, the calibre view uses a (from memory) Chrome based renderer and hence inherits a lot of layout based rules from that. On your Kobo device, epubs are rendered with the Adobe RMSDK, so the layout is from that. You will get similar rendering from other devices that use the RMSDK. And ADE will be fairly similar.

For footnotes, it has always been fun. If this is an ePub 2, then the RMSDK does not support them at all. They are just links to another part of the book. The ereader may have support to return to where you came from (the Kobo should have a "Back to page x" link when you display the menu bars). Other ereaders or apps are using heuristics (i.e. taking a guess) to determine if a link is a footnote. The calibre view is definitely doing that. If you put the epub on your Kobo as a kepub (for testing, just use ".kepub.epub" as the extension on the device), it does support footnotes in a very similar way to the calibre viewer. Again, it uses heuristics to decide and doesn't always get it right.

For epub3, there is support for footnotes. The calibre viewer and the Kobo kepub renderer supports them. I have no idea if anything else does.

I can't comment on Kindles and the formats they support. I don't use them and, as much as possible, let those who do offer suggestions.

Edit:

I didn't actually look at the supplied example. I have now and I see it is an epub 3. It has the appropriate tags/attributes for footnotes. Testing on one of my Kobo device as both epub and kepub gave me the expected results - for epub the footnotes are treated as simple links, for kepub there is a popup. For the epub, there is a backlink in the code. But, the character used was one not in the font I was using to read the book and was not displayed. When I font that did have something, though not the character that was displayed by the calibre viewer, the back link worked.

Last edited by davidfor; 09-21-2021 at 12:17 AM.
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Old 09-21-2021, 08:40 AM   #4
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Thank you so much, your reply is extremely valuable.

This raises a very stupid question in my mind : am I loosing anything if I just decide to publish my books with foobar.kepub.epub filenames rather than foobar.epub ? Would that be considered as "good practice" ?
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Old 09-21-2021, 10:02 AM   #5
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You can only publish kepubs on Kobo.
Amazon takes regular epubs. They have 90% of the English speaking market.

Smashwords sell Kindle format & epub direct. They also supply the epub version to Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Scribd and Overdrive. Basically NOT Amazon and Google.

Google has negligible ebook sales, but you can upload the SAME epub to Amazon KDP, Smashwords and Google.

We use a dual mobi for Smashwords Kindle sales that's made from the epub we upload to everyone.
The kepub is a proprietary Kobo format for their store. People can also get the epub version from their store.

We've had Kobo, Apple, Scribd, Barnes & Noble and Tolino sales from the epub uploaded to Smashwords. There is no obvious indication in those stores that we didn't upload to them directly.
That will give you close to 100%

Uploading epub works better than uploading docx or doc. Our epubs created with Calibre are fine. You can download samples from our site.
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Old 09-21-2021, 10:08 AM   #6
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I should have mentionned I'm only distributing ebooks from a website. I am not using the Amazon/kindle marketplaces.
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Old 09-21-2021, 10:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gryzor2327 View Post
Thank you so much, your reply is extremely valuable.

This raises a very stupid question in my mind : am I loosing anything if I just decide to publish my books with foobar.kepub.epub filenames rather than foobar.epub ? Would that be considered as "good practice" ?
As @Quoth said, kepubs are only for Kobo. And you can't publish them directly. You supply the epub to Kobo and they generate the kepub from that. Anyone buying the book from Kobo will get access to the kepub through a Kobo device or the Kobo apps. They can also download the epub from the store.

The kepub is an epub, but, there are spans wrapping each sentence with an id. These are uses for the location mechanism. Without them, the location will not be stored properly and the book will probably be reopened to the beginning of the chapter you closed the book on. If you want to sideload the book as a kepub, you can do this with calibre and the appropriate plugins or the separate kepubify tool.
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Old 09-22-2021, 01:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gryzor2327 View Post
To be concrete, I am attaching an ebook from my production, which produces such effects.
FYI: Your book violates some French typography conventions.
1. You're using English style quotation marks “...” instead of the traditional French quotes « ... » (with extra inner spaces).
2. There are missing spaces before many colons, semicolons, exclamation points and question marks.

For more information, see this Github post.
(Since many fonts don't have glyphs for narrow no-break spaces, most book designers use non-breaking spaces or regular spaces.)
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Old 09-22-2021, 01:40 PM   #9
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You can only publish kepubs on Kobo.
You publish ePub with Kobo and they convert it to KePub.
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Old 09-22-2021, 02:06 PM   #10
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You publish ePub with Kobo and they convert it to KePub.
That's what I meant. You upload epub everywhere. Even Amazon KDP.
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Old 09-23-2021, 12:09 AM   #11
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That's what I meant. You upload epub everywhere. Even Amazon KDP.
This touches on a pet peeve of mine: Yes, Smashwords will accept epub uploads, but the last time I published there (which I admit is rather longer than I expected it to be) they still required an MS-Word document mangled to their preferences if you want the full treatment. It's why my novels still don't have a preview on Smashwords - you only get that if you send them a Word doc. (I had planned on generating one some time but have never gotten around to it.)
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Old 09-23-2021, 08:01 AM   #12
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You can send Smashwords a dual mobi for kindle and epub for epub. Their conversion of doc is poor and strange they don't take docx.

Almost all ereading is on epub ereaders, epub apps or kindle or kindle apps. Anyone still having to use pdb or lrf can use a converter from epub.

People preferring PDF, text or HTML to Kindle/epub is rare.

So we are going to stop uploading "doc" and only have kindle and epub as formats. Unfortunately they don't accept sample uploads (you could create a free sample title?) or create them from other than "doc" uploads. So we are adding better quality samples to our own site where the entire NCX/TOC works. We chop out most of the contents of chapters after 20% to 30% is reached. We can choose a better break point to end the full text chapters and leave only the title on chapters with a big spoiler in first sentence or paragraph.

Slightly more than 1/2 our sales are via Smashwords inc partners (Kobo, Apple, Tolino, Barnes & Noble, Scribd). The rest are on Amazon. Amazon has 90% of English book sales because of people either using KDP Select (exclusive by contract) or not uploading elsewhere.

We also upload to Google but have never sold a single book via the Playstore Google Playbooks. That seems to be the case for most publishers. Odd.

Just upload an epub and a dual mobi (Calibre KF7 + KF8) to Smashwords. It's the absolutely only use I see for the dual mobi.

Don't use KDP Select, that turns Amazon into an exclusive publisher and retailer.

We also put a QR code near the start linked to our site for samples. I've verified it works pointing a camera at paper, eink 167 dpi KK3, DXG or 300 dpi PW3, LCD screen (app on tablet and program on PC) and CRT.

Free QR generator on Linux. Save image, resize in The GIMP import to LO Writer and convert docx to epub with Calibre with no Calibre editing.

Last edited by Quoth; 09-23-2021 at 08:06 AM.
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Old 09-23-2021, 08:41 AM   #13
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You can send Smashwords a dual mobi for kindle and epub for epub. Their conversion of doc is poor and strange they don't take docx.[...]
Is that mobi option something you have to send to their support staff? I just checked and the online publishing interface I am presented with still only offers doc and epub.
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Old 09-23-2021, 09:44 AM   #14
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No. It's a clear option when you go to upload content for a title. I've done it with maybe 17 titles.
After clicking on Upload new version in Dashboard (or part of creation of a new title):
Quote:
Upload manuscripts in Microsoft Word .doc format.
Or, if your file is already prepared in an ebook format, you may upload:

Kindle (.mobi) (.mobi)
epub (.epub)

(Maximum file size: 15MB for Word documents, 20MB for professionally designed ebook files.)
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Old 09-23-2021, 09:51 AM   #15
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Oh, and always create epub in Calibre from docx, never odt. Do an extra Save As if using LO Writer and never open the docx in Writer, only native odt. You can import a doc or dox but you need then to fix paragraph styles, character styles, page styles and headings, then save in odt.

Only create the dual mobi from the epub and after checking it.

Other wordprocessors and epub creation tools can be used. I don't recommend epub export from Writer (built in or plugin), Pages or InDesign. Sigil is good if you want more than an automatic docx to epub in Calibre. I have the styles, headings, fonts etc carefully done in LO writer so that the exported docx and then Calibre epub creation needs no editing.
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