eBook Format Fun

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eBook Format Fun

Postby b-guy » Mon Dec 26, 2011 3:53 pm

Hey all,

Prompted by the disasterous attempt to produce .pdf files for BorgCrazy's use and by the Sony Reader my sister and I bought dad for Christmas, I am attempting to put some of my stories in ebook format, specifically epub. The current Halfway to Haven run has been make into individual ebooks, which I may or may not post on the site. The reason for this is that it makes more sense to put the entire season into a single ebook, with the stories marked as individual chapters that can be easily accessed from the table of contents. (Otherwise the five seasons of Silverado would be something like 90 eBooks instead of five...and I don't even want to think about the number of stories The Vexed Generation would fill!)

As a sample, Silverado Season One is available for download on the Silverado Seasone One page. It has some errors, but is largely...acceptable.

http://www.khobrah.net/silver/season1/season1.html

For those interested in making their own eBooks, here are a couple of useful programs along with the challenges I cam across.

Sigil http://code.google.com/p/sigil/

This program allows you to edit eBooks at the text level. eBooks, as I've learned, are handled very much like web pages, and the underlying code is xhtml. But you don't need to know html to code the books, you can past text into a Word-like editor, creating a new section for each story/chapter. Use the 'Heading One' font type for each chapter title, auto-generate the table of contents, add a cover and you're largely set.

The problem is that we converted all our stories into .txt format, and in my case I lost some of the original Word documents. When I copied the .txt text into Sigil, all the custom line breaks generated in the conversions came too, which meant all sorts of weird spacing problems anytime a sentance ran longer than the width of the eReader screen. So for those first few stories, I had to go in and manually remove all the extra line breaks. The Word documents paste much easier, but all the handy little corrections Khobrah & BorgCrazy used to give us, along with my changing of the Silverado deck numbering, was only in the .txt. So I had to fix the deck numbers, but the edits have been lost. Hopefully Seasons 2-5 will be easier and quicker!

Gimp http://www.gimp.org

A basic image editor, I used this to make a 600x800 pixel image to use as a cover. Just the pic of the ship from the Season One page and a title.

calibre http://calibre-ebook.com/

This very handy software is good for putting the final touches on your eBook. Although you can set some basic metadata in Sigil, calibre lets you set the publisher (Star Traks Nexus and Corner Grocery Store), series (Star Traks Silverado) along with a numbering system for where in the series that book belongs.

Once your metadata is set, you can copy the eBook over to the reader of your choice and it -SHOULD- work properly. I've been fiddling with the Silverado Season One book for hours, and it's still not perfect, but until I feel like going through a proof read of the whole season, it's as good as it'll get. I've tested it on the calibre eBook viewer, dad's Sony Reader and the Aldiko reader on my Android phone. All worked fairly well.
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Re: eBook Format Fun

Postby Meneks » Wed Dec 28, 2011 6:27 am

Since I received a Nook for Christmas - a totally unexpected gift - I am strongly thinking of venturing into the realm of ebooks myself. /After/ I finish the last two stories of Cube #238 mini-series, that is. I may very well be coming back to ask for your advice, b-guy!
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Re: eBook Format Fun

Postby b-guy » Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:07 pm

It's been a little frustrating. epub doesn't support footnotes, so I had to manually convert the footnotes in Crash Course into endnots, and add little numbers to the right spots in the text. I found that I can easily and quickly convert an entire seasons worth of text files to epub, then copy them over into a single epub file, generate chapters and so forth...but so far in each season there has been ONE story that loses all it's indents and paragraph spacing. There is a conversion option in caliber that brings back the spacing, but then I have to go and do the indents manually. Finally, Sigil doesn't have an easy way to set font sizes, resulting in random text size changes between pasted text and anything I type right into the editor. Luckily, I can run yet another conversion in calibre that corrects this very quickly.

It's just...frustrating.
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Re: eBook Format Fun

Postby b-guy » Fri Dec 30, 2011 3:49 am

OK. After much experimenting, it seems that one method gives the best overall results for the effor involved. Thank God this only ever has to be one once. :P

Step one: Open your story, in either .txt or .doc in Microsoft Word. Save it as a filtered web page, remembering the change the title to something you'll remember. Do this for each story you plan to include in your ebook.

Step two: in Sigil, start a new ebook. Give it the title you want, but also be sure to go into 'Edit -> Metadata editor' to set the author and whatnot.

Step three: In Sigil, create a new chapter for the cover, each chapter, and any other item that you'd like displayed seperately in the Table of Contents.

Step four: Populate your chapters. The cover can be an image, or just text. For each chapter, use <Heading 1> for your chapter title. Then open another Sigil window, open the story html/htm file you created, then copy the text into your main ebook. (It should use the <Normal> text.) The story/chapter is now complete. Repeat as needed.

Step five: Click the 'Generate TOC from Headings' button. Any text written in <Heading X> will show in the table of contents. If you followed the directions above, each of your stories should be listed as a seperate chapter.

Step six: Import your completed story into calibre and edit the metadata. Set as you like.

Your ebook is now complete. Grab another six-pack of beer, another micky of hard liquor or whatever you enjoy for stress relief and move on to the next one. :P

EDIT: Originally, steps two and three had you importing the htm/html files in calibre and converting them to epub, but it looks like that's not necessary.
EDIT EDIT: And if anybody can figure out why the hell the first paragraph of a chapter always shows up in smaller print, please tell me. At this point, for each chapter I'm going into the html code and changing it manually...but it's annoying! And it doesn't show until you view the book in calibre e-book viewer!
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Re: eBook Format Fun

Postby Donald » Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:48 pm

A quick warning re the Sony reader.

DO NOT LET THE BATTERY GO FLAT!!!!!!

I did, on mine. It's been impossible ever since, even after a drive format. It freezes after about 10 pages, then you have to reset it.

On the other hand, after 6 weeks of foul and abusive language, Janice bought me a replacement Kobo machine. I'll report back once I've broken this one. :D
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Re: eBook Format Fun

Postby Star Traks » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:22 pm

Donald wrote:...DO NOT LET THE BATTERY GO FLAT!!!!!!..I'll report back once I've broken this one. :D


Batteries, where does one start on that subject?
Not all batteries are created equal - so many companies are subcontracting production to different firms these days so product quality is not necessarily consistent across name brands.
I have heard of similar problematic conditions with chargers/connectors & battery monitoring-reformatting software. That only aggravates the problem further

No guarantee if the following URLs will help you out with battery problems:
http://www.wikihow.com/Recondition-a-Rechargeable-Battery
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Battery_Charging
http://laptopbattery4.us/blog/extend-your-hp-laptop%e2%80%99s-life/ -

Best of luck !!!
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Re: eBook Format Fun

Postby Donald » Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:05 am

Thanks.

This time the battery is fine. After a recharge it's fine and dandy. It seems to be the operating system that is unstable after allowing the battery charge to expire. It's also possible it got a little damp, as it was in my jacket pocket during an 8 hour downpour in Dunblane where my waterproofs stopped being waterproof.

So now I've disconnected the battery, and I'll leave it for a week to see if things settle down. It's the electronic version of being sent to the Naughty Step. :D
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