So…being a sometimes-advocate of open and all that, and since Lulu now supports ePub, The Standard Ebook Format…
I thought I’d see whether using it makes any sense for the huge (513pp. 6×9, 191K words) collection of OA articles that may or may not emerge as Open Access and Libraries: Essays from Cites & Insights, 2001-2009.
The project itself is on the back burner for a few weeks while I see whether one possible way of getting an index pans out. Meanwhile, I could see what generating an ePub version was like.
Checking online and asking around, the only software I could find that matches the probable income from the ePub version–that is, $0–was Calibre, which is really an ebook organization (and viewing) program but also includes routines to convert to ePub from various input formats, including PDF and HTML.
The conversion routine is interesting, because it wants to know what reader the output will be used on. (There’s “default,” which may or may not be Kindle, but also a bunch of individual choices.)
- I had this silly idea that ePub is a device-independent standard. If that’s true, then I don’t get the question.
- More specifically, if I do an ePub version, it will most certainly be intended to be device-independent.
I decided to try this two ways, in both cases starting with a Word document that’s designed as a 6×9 book with good margins, using Berkeley Oldstyle Book for body text and Friz Quadrata for major headings, with “typical” page headers and footers (centered page # on first page of chapter, page # and book name in italics on other even-numbered pages, chapter name in italics and page # on other odd-numbered pages).
The PDF used for input was prepared using “Save as PDF,” which yields bookmarks and is really great for use on a PDF-supporting viewer. (Unfortunately, it appears to carry a phantom “Arial” that’s not embedded, which means it may not be possible to upload it to Lulu–which requires that all typefaces be embedded. If I “print to PDF” instead, I can set the PDF properties to embed everything, even Arial, but you don’t get bookmarks in that case. Irrelevant for a printed book, relevant for a PDF-download version.)
The HTML was prepared using Word “Save as filtered HTML,” which is the advice given by another service that does ePub conversion (but only to make the ePubs available through that service…not what I need).
- PDF-to-ePub results (as opened in Calibre’s ebook viewer): The type looks great. There’s an optional contents band, but it doesn’t really work. Ebook page breaks are peculiar, and text breaks even more so. The page headers and footers show up in the stream (which becomes something like 1,200 pages from the original 519 including prefatory material).
- HTML-to-ePub results (as opened in Calibre’s ebook viewer): Uggh… The type looks awful, very nearly unreadable, for reasons that escape me. There are no margins. (I think that’s true with the PDF-to-ePub as well.) On the other hand, the table of contents pane (optional) works just fine–even if there’s an odd pagebreak before the first level-2 heading in each chapter. No extraneous running page headers or footers, and the Friz Quadrata headings are absolutely crisp. The 513-page book turns into 1,800-odd pages (or whatever).
At this point, I’d be a good deal more embarrassed to offer either variety of ePub than I already am by the semi-clunky HTML versions of Cites & Insights essays…which have odd margins but at least have clean typography and proper flow.
Maybe I’m missing something.