eBook Conversion

eBook conversion for Kindle and ePub readers

Introduction to the ePub format

In addition to the mobi format, used by the Kindle, the other widely used format is ePub. The ePub format is also based on HTML, although it offers more formatting options than mobi.

The good news is that the all the HTML features I’ve described for Kindle conversion also apply to ePub. So you can use the same HTML file for conversion; the only difference is that you’ll need to tweak a few conversion settings in Calibre. If you’ve written a novel, or any other type of prose with plain text, and you’re happy with the way it looks on the Kindle, then it will look pretty much the same in ePub.

In later tutorials, I’ll go through the additional formatting options that are available. But here are some things to bear in mind:

  1. As tempting as the increased formatting options are to the more design-minded of you, they’re a double-edged sword. Again, like the Kindle, there are a myriad of reading devices out there, and you need to remember that your book needs to be readable on all of them. As irritating as the formatting restrictions of the mobi format sometimes are, they do ensure a reasonably consistent experience for everyone
  2. There is much more variation in terms of screen sizes with ePub readers. Unless you’re producing ePub files for a specific device (such as the iPad), the best option for your book cover is 800 x 600 pixels
  3. Barnes & Noble has the second biggest market share for eBooks (around 20-25 per cent) and uses the ePub format; however to use B&N’s Pubit! channel, you need to have a US credit card. If you are outside the US you will have to use an aggregator. The aggregators Lulu and BookBaby let your upload ePub files; however Smashwords will only let you upload an MS Word 2003 document
  4. At the time of writing, Google is also about to start selling ePub books
  5. There is a free WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) ePub editor available: Sigil. This is a good option if you wand to do a lot of tweaking. It doesn’t have quite the functionality of a word processor – sometimes you have to go into the HTML code – but it’s a useful option
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