Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Creating an Ebook

I tried creating an ebook with the content that I have right now, which is about 95% done.

The whole thing is rather unsatisfactory.

The source content, created in Google docs, is exported as a zipped folder of html and images. This works fine in a browser, designed to view html. But transforming this to the epub format, the most common for ebooks, is not great. The transformation tool, Sigil, does it's best to guess what the author had in mind for formatting. Keeping in mind that epub like other ebook formats is primarily about formatting, but about reflowable content. Even so images come out at odd sizes, typefaces are different, text column margins are odd. Then you have to use Calibre to try to optimise for particular devices or services. Why? Surely a conformant epub is an epub is an epub that should work anywhere?

The root problem is that there are no good open source tools for authoring ebooks with an interface that is for normal people who don't want to know about html and css.

Right now my first attempt at loading the epub onto my Android phone is only a partial success. The book is there, I can navigate through the content, the table of contents works (with the wrong typeface), and the cover is there, albeit a huge bitmap (inefficient). But the formatting needs a lot of refinement.