Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Creating an ebook with eCub

One of the tools suggested by LuLu to create an Epub eBook was eCub (also for MobiPocket books, which are similar to the Amazon kindle format). I was able to install eCub on my Ubuntu netbook and run it. I also tried the more sophisticated Calibre tool but was unable to install it (and caused problems with my Linux configuration in the process).

I like the eCub approach which is that while it has a graphical user interface, it is a simple batch program working on a directory of files underneath. You place the content you want converted to ePub in a folder and then run eCub, which creates the ePub file. You can't preview or edit the document with eCub, you have to use other programs to do that, all it does is take the files you provide and package them up.

On my first attempt I created a book which has a cover and all the content, but the menu is not correct. However, this is good progress for a few minutes work (after hours of working out why Calibre did not run and what happened to my software configuration).

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Converting a manuscript to Epub Ebook format

LuLu now offer Epub eBook format as an option for distributing via the service. They seem to imply that they have a service to create Epub format, I could not find it. WHat I did find was "Can I convert my manuscript to Epub on my own?". This had some suggestions for tools: Epub Tutorial, Calibre (Free tool), eCub (EPUB and MobiPocket books), Google Epub Toolkit. What they do not seem to have is an online sercvice like the Amazon DPT service which turns your HTML into a Kindle book.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Apple iPad online ebook tool

Print on demand service Lulu.com, are encouraging self publishing authors to produce their books in the Epub format used by the Apple iPad. My Green Technology Strategies book is avialable though LuLu.com and I was already considering a Epub version. So it was timely that LuLu sent me an offer, where if I created an ePub version of my book by 3/22/10 they would offer 50% off their usual fee. There is also a competition to win an Apple Ipad, but this is only for US residents.

Unfortunately what LuLu.com did not explain was what their new Epub service was, what it cost, or how to obtain more details. I assumed that if I entered the LuLu.com website with my user-id there will be details of the Epub option added next to the existing PDF ebook option. But I had to look in the help files for any mention of Epub. There I found Epub, but discussed as a variant of DRM. , which I assume stands for "Digital Rights Management". That is the topic of how to create a digital book seems to be treated as an exercise in electroncially tagging the file to protect the interlectual proproty rights to the content. So I am still none the wasiser as how to create a Epub ebook with LuLu.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Microsoft Office 2010 support for OpenOffice

Microsoft Office 2010 is due for release in May. A Beta version with the new features of Word, Access, PowerPoint, Publisher, Outlook, InfoPath, Excel, SharePoint Workspace, OneNote and Communicator is still available. The new version will be able to create and read document in both the Microsoft sponsored OOXML format (Office Open XML, ISO/IEC 29500:2008) and Sun sponsored ODF (OpenDocument Format, ISO/IEC 26300:2006). This will better allow the interchange of documents with the open source OpenOffice.Org office suite.

OOXML was provided with Open Office 2007 and ODF in Service Pack 2. However, it seems likely that many documents will still be created in the older proprietary .DOC (Word 97-2003) format to maintain compatibility with older versions of Word and other pre XML formats.

Neither OOXML nor ODF can be read directly by a web browser. My preference would be for a HTML based format. Microsoft tried this with a previous version of Word, with a HTML based format which could be edited, however it did not become popular. However, newer versions of HTML and CSS provide more features and so fewer workarounds to implement word processor features. In addition both OOXML and ODF are conceptually similar to HTML based ebook formats, such as Epub and the Amazon Kindle format. These all consist of an XML formatted document, plus formatting and images, zipped into one file.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Epub eBook Tutorial and Tool

The ".epub eBooks Tutorial" provides a good overview. A sligly more polished presentation is ion "EPUB Resources and Guides" By Keith Fahlgren. Of the tools avialable, calibre looks promising as a free open source HTML or ODT (Open Office Word Processing format) to Epub ebook converter. However, I have not been able to get it to run on Linux so far.

Feedbooks provides a useful online tool for creating and publishing free ebooks. It uses a familar looking web based editor to create the book. It would be interesting to see if this could be added to online commercial book publishing systems like Lulu.com. Currently these assume you prepare the book offline and then upload the typeset result, usually as PDF. But for books which are mostly text it might be easier to provide a web based editor.

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