4 Ways to Create an ePub eBook

by | Jul 10, 2015

By David Kudler

Last month I talked about just what an ebook is — a website in a box. Ebooks come in a number of flavors, but for the purposes of this discussion I’m going to stick with the most common and most malleable format of ebook, the ePub file that is the basis of all of the major retailers’ ebook offerings.

There are four basic ways you can create an ePub file:

  1. From scratch
  2. Saving from a word-processing or page-layout application into ePub format
  3. Using a conversion app or online service
  4. Hiring a designer

The trade-off among these methods involve quality, time, and price. As the old saying goes, you can generally pick two. In order to get all three, you’re going to need to become an ebook maven yourself, which will take a fair amount of time, but which will allow you to control all of the variables yourself. Let’s look at the options, and you can see whether that’s the road you want to take.

Option 1: Create the Ebook from Scratch

An ePub file, as I’ve said, is simply a website in a box. The box is nothing more than a ZIP archive that’s been given the file extension .epub. If you want to test this statement, find an ePub file (it can’t have DRM — digital rights management — attached). Duplicate it so that you still have your original ebook to read and enjoy. Change the extension (the last three or four letters in the file name after the last period) of the duplicate to .zip, and then double-click on the file. Voilà! You’ll have a folder containing all of the files that make up the ebook:

eBook from scratch

Most of these files — the .xhtml files (a.k.a. web pages) and .css (a.k.a. stylesheet) file — are just what you’d find if you looked at the files building a fairly straightforward website.

The container.xml file serves one purpose: to tell the ereader where to look for the OPF file — that’s the one called content.opf here. That’s the heart of the ebook. It tells the ereader where to find all of the rest of the files in the ebook, what order to display them in, and what role each item serves (e.g. cover image, table of contents, etc.)

The toc.ncx file is a specialized navigation file; it contains the information that your ereader displays when you click on the contents or chapters button.

You can create all of this from scratch using text-editing software, or XML editing software, or a web-page editing app like Dreamweaver.

I don’t recommend it. The amount of labor involved is huge, and the places where you can make mistakes are many; computers are literal-minded, and a missing space or semi-colon that the human eye would fix without our even being aware of it will break an ebook.

However, it is possible to use those apps to edit an ebook after you created it using the techniques laid out below. There are even apps that allow you to do this without un-ZIPping the file, so that you can see the ebook as you edit it. Every day I use two open-source apps (Sigil and Calibre) to refine ebooks that I’ve generated.

What you see inside one of the xhtml files that make up the body of the ebook will look something like this:

XHTML code sample

That’s the title page of a book that I’m preparing for publication. If you’ve poked around web pages at all, that will all look fairly familiar — HTML tags, style attributes, image calls, a hyperlink or two. For what it’s worth, this is what the page looks like when it’s displayed by an ereader:

Title page sample

If all of that code looks scary to you — don’t worry. Though it’s essential to know some basic HTML if you want to get under the hood of your ePub file, there are other ways to create ebooks. And I’ll be talking some more about what all of that gobbledygook actually is in coming months. (If you’d like to jumpstart that process, I highly recommend Liz Castro’s excellent introduction, ePub Straight to the Point. It’s a few years old, but still does an great job of covering the basics.)

Option 2: Use an App That Exports ePub Files

So if you don’t want to go the DIY route, there are a number of applications that currently export directly to the ePub format:

The last two are particularly helpful if you are also preparing a book for print publication.

There are many more options — including add-ons and plug-ins to existing commercial and open-source apps.

All of these will create ePub files that work, and that should be accepted by most retailers.

What’s the downside? Well, there are a couple of things.

First of all, none of the files created by these apps will display quite the way that you expect them to in various ereaders, especially if you’ve got an ebook that’s got any complicated formatting such as drop-caps, tables, inset images, fancy typography, etc. The apps will try to reproduce on the screen what you were trying to create for the printed page, but often the style rules that the apps try to create make an incredible mess in one or more ereader. Everything may display as plain text on a Nook, while small images may fill the page on an old Kindle, while no images display at all on the Kindle app on your computer.

Here’s the same page displayed on different ereaders:

iBooks

iBooks page sample

Kindle

Kindle for mac page sample

Nook

Nook page sample

Adobe Digital Editions

Digital Editions page sample

Note that on the Nook app, the captions (which are hyperlinks) display as blue rather than red. And notice that in Adobe Digital Editions, the image doesn’t display at all.

Also, all of these programs have idiosyncrasies; most create ePub files that are very difficult to customize, since they treat any style change (italics, font size, indents, etc.) as a unique case, rather than applying a document-wide style. If you use the Styles formatting rules that all of these apps allow — apply a Body style to all body text paragraphs, for example, rather than formatting them as 12pt. Palatino and hitting the tab at the beginning of every paragraph — the results will be better, but inevitably the ePub file produced this way contain WAY too much code, enough to swell the file size. This is a problem when you upload the file to Amazon’s KDP, which will deduct a “transport fee” of $0.15 per megabyte of file size on each download from your royalty. (I’ll be speaking to all of these challenges more in coming months. I’ll also say why it’s probably not worth your time to create files in Apple’s wonderful iBooks Author.)

Option #3: Converting to ePub Using an App or Online Service

Most of us start with a manuscript — a Microsoft Word, ODF (OpenOffice Document File), or RTF (Rich Text Format) doc that we’re looking to turn into an ebook. Now, as I said last month, a Word doc isn’t an ebook. But you can format the text and even insert images, hyperlinks and the other paraphernalia that make up an ebook, and then use an app to convert the document into ePub format.

There are many, many such apps, both open-source and commercial, but I’ll only bother telling you about one that I’ve already mentioned: Calibre.

Calibre was created to convert between an impressive variety of ebook and manuscript formats, including HTML, RTF, DOCX, mobi, AZW3, and, of course, ePub. It has a number of controls that allow you to fine-tune the conversion — but if your document’s simple, the standard settings will probably do.

And of course, as I mentioned above, Calibre contains a WYSIWYG ebook editor that allows you to clean up your ePub file after the conversion.

There are also a number of ways to upload a Word document and get an ePub file. (Most of them fall under the paid conversion option, which comes below.) Many of the retailers allow you to upload a Word document directly.

Smashwords actually prefers Word docs — and will allow you to download your converted file in ePub format after they’ve run it through their famous “Meat Grinder” conversion tool (it’s actually a customized version of the software at the heart of Calibre). Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing does a pretty good job of converting Word files. Kobo’s Writing Life and Barnes and Nobles’ Nook Press have online ebook editing tools.

The downside here is the same as in Option #2 — the conversions are rarely perfect. And in most cases, there’s little that you can do about it, since the conversion is automated, and handled completely by the retailer.

If you go this route, it is essential that you check your ebook out, not just on the retailer’s “preview” or “Look Inside” widget, but on an actual ereader.

Option #4: Use an Ebook Designer or Company to Handle the Conversion

A quick disclaimer here: I’m an ebook designer, so I’m a bit biased toward this option.

Still, I know it’s not the option for everyone.

There are thousands of companies and individuals who create clean, attractive ebooks that will display properly across a variety of ereaders. Here are some reasons to use them:

  • You’ve got complex design elements (tables, lots of images, sidebars, endnotes, drop capitals, etc.) that will require special care.
  • You’re trying to create a fixed-format ebook (again, this is not a PDF.)
  • You want to add a read-aloud track, video, or other enhancements.
  • Your book contains non-Latin characters.
  • You’ve got complex chapter headers.
  • You want the ebook to look good, whatever device it’s read on, and you don’t want to spend the time learning how to make that happen.
  • The idea of looking at HTML makes you break out in hives.

Using a conversion expert or company obviously will involve some cost. It’s up to you to decide whether the expense is worth it.

Next time, I’m going to talk about how to prepare your manuscript for conversion — whether by you or by someone else.

David Kudler headshot x 125David Kudler is a Contributing Writer for TheBookDesigner.com. He is also an author, an editor, an ebook designer and a writer for the Huffington Post.

You can learn more about David here.

 
Photo: bigstockphoto.com

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

51 Comments

  1. Toks Towobola

    Hi I have 2 stories for kids books i hard copy which i want to convert to ePub format what should i do? Can i just scan them?

    Reply
    • Shreepathi GM

      Scan using OCR, So you will get text format. Then convert it to epub.

      Reply
  2. Gazi Abdullah

    I don’t have a computer. For only personal use & not for commercial use or print,I just want to make (Offline,without uploading) a simple designed epub file (in my Android Phone) to put together 10/20 Text/Docx file’s text,in Bengali language, (Some are personal data), into one file,with an index,In first page (Internal hyperlinks of each files)….That epub files may only contain plain text,Bold text,Some photos & with no external hyperlinks (as like in Docx files)…And I want to do it Offline,to avoid leaking my sensitive data.
    Can you plz suggest me some offline tools to make such an epub,in my Android Phone?
    Or an online way without leaking my sensitive data?

    Reply
  3. Rich Harvey

    Regarding conversion … I upload and sell eBooks on Smashwords … but then I’ll download the ePub and Mobi files … Sometimes I’ll add them to my own site and sell them … BUT ..

    The real horror show comes with the table of contents. Smashwords doesn’t want you to use Word’s table of contents generator … I’ll use the generator, which targets the headers, then copy and paste as plain text … I’ll add the links. Smashwords is happy … but when I download the ePub and open it in Adobe Digital editions … Nearly early content listing is missing … Wont work in the table of contents page, and the popout side menu doesn’t have the listings or links …

    I need to take a break …

    Reply
  4. Ria

    Hi

    I facilitate a 10 year old quadriplegic girl and i would like her to read without her requiring for someone to turn the pages for her, so I would like to upload all her books to her computer, which she can access on her own. How would i go about doing this?

    Reply
  5. Myra Klockenbrink

    Hi David,
    I created chapbook in inDesign that I thought I would put into iBooks and now I’m stuck. I would like readers to view it on their devices. It’s 24 pages long and has images. Can I hire you to help me?
    Thanks,
    Myra

    Reply
  6. morry

    David – thanks for your comments and suggestions. after thinking about it all I think I am going to take your advice and go the ScribD route! Sounds much easier!!
    Again many thanks and I learned a lot about ePub formats along the way.
    cheers

    Reply
  7. morry

    Thanks for your response. By embed i meant that from my website at this url examplesite.com/epub/readmybook.epub one could read the book in some kind of reader as is seen here: https://futurepress.github.io/epubjs-reader/index.html#epubcfi(/6/12%5Bxepigraph_001%5D!/4/2/2/2/1:0)

    I know that i can put a link to the file — mybook.epub — and then folks can download it to their desktop. But i don’t want that. i want them to be able to have it readable on a website …a readable version of the book would be readable without hosting the book anywhere else. I don’t want to sell anything, just for people to read the book on my website.

    Does make sense?

    Reply
    • David Kudler

      Of course! That was my first scenario.

      The script above looks intriguing; you’ll need to know the ins and outs of JavaScript and PHP (the scripting language for many websites) to get that running on your web page.

      If you aren’t trying to obfuscate the text (that is, if it’s okay with you that people can copy or save your text), another way to handle it would be to take un-ZIP the ePub file, add some navigation links at the top and bottom, then upload the whole directory to your server. After all, ePub is just a website in a box. ;-)

      You can also export the book from InDesign as an HTML file and then upload it (along with any ancillary files such as images or stylesheets). Again, you’ll need to add navigational links. (You could serve the files on your main website inside an iframe, so that the menus, etc. all appear in their proper places, but the reader can go through your whole book.

      Honestly? What I suggested above will take care of that. Go to ScribD. Upload your book. (Alternatively, use an aggregator like Smashwords, Draft2Digital, or PublishDrive to distribute it there for you.) Once your book is up there, follow the instructions here to embed it on your site: https://support.scribd.com/hc/en-us/articles/210134766-Embedding

      Reply
  8. morry nulens

    Today i exported my InDesign .indd book to the .epub format.

    So now i want to embed that book to my webpages. i cannot find ONE document that explains how to embed an .epub onto my website.!

    Reply
    • David Kudler

      Thanks, Murry, for reaching out.

      I think I can help — but I’m not exactly clear on what you mean by “embed an .epub onto my website.”

      I can think of three things you might mean:

      You want people to be able to read the book you’ve created on your siteYou want people to be able to download the file from your site by clicking a button or linkYou want people to be able to buy the book from your website and download it from there

      If you mean (1)… Well, you can do that, but that’s not really what ePub files are for. The easiest way would be to get the ebook onto ScribD, set the price at free, and then embed the preview that ScribD provides. You’d have a fairly secure copy of your ebook up on your website that folks could read.

      If you mean (2), then you need to upload the file and create a hyperlink. If you’ve got a WordPress site, you may need to add a plugin that will allow you to upload custom file types (like, say, .epub). Then you find the URL for your ebook, and use that to create a link (the chain button above the editor) attached to either text or an image.

      If you mean (3), you’ll need to add some sort of ecommerce solution. The one I use — probably the most popular do-it-yourself store-builder for websites these days — is WooCommerce for WordPress. Then you create a new product, make it a downloadable item, upload the file, set a price, add a cover image and description… and hit publish.

      If you meant something altogether different, let me know!

      Reply
  9. Anna

    Is there an online tool that would convert our PDF book into epub and other formats?

    I’ve searched everywhere but can’t find a good one.

    Reply
    • J Houghton

      It’s difficult to do that because PDFs hold images and text in their exact place, but epubs are dynamic in how text is displayed.

      You could convert the PDF to a word document then convert the word document into epub, but you may have to clean up the formatting.

      Reply
    • Gregoria

      There is! FXLexporter by ePubSystems.
      Free version available with very cheap PRO version. pay per convert only.
      Input PDF, manipulate as you wish, re-design and add graphics – then export into Sigil Fixed-Layout format. Support animation, interactivity and even audio!

      Reply
  10. Chinu Ahmed

    Hello!
    I was reading your article and it’s very much informative. I’m currently working on a project and need your advise.
    I have a book file in pdf and doc version and I need to convert either file to latest version of ePub format for googlePlay.
    Can you pls advise what is the best way doing that. Or what is the best converter I can use.
    Thanks and looking forward to hear from you.
    Thx

    Reply
  11. Prasanna Kumar

    Hello Sir,
    Could you please tell me how to create an ebook in MOBI format.

    Reply
  12. Claudia87

    Thanks for the tips David.
    Perhaps as another option one could suggest online ebook conversion websites (https://convert-ebook.com, https://ebook.online-convert.com) as these are convenient for on-the-go ebook conversion between formats (doc->epub for example).
    But for professional content creation a dedicated, desktop solution works best.

    Reply
  13. Norbert

    Minor suggestion. Where it says “but if you’re document’s simple” you meant to write “but if your document’s simple”.

    Reply
    • Shelley Sturgeon

      Norbert,

      Good catch. Thanks for the heads up. I’ve made the correction.

      Shelley

      Reply
  14. carol shanahan

    I have been given a 100 page indesign document which is usually used for publishing to pdf.

    The indesign designer has done a lot of good preparatory work for epub output, character styles/paragraph styles naming is good, little to no inline styles, only one return per paragraph. What is the best way to publish this indesign file to epub. When I publish direct from indesign it does not bring a lot of the font styles with it, the toc style goes disappears although the links work. I have tried embedding the fonts when exporting.

    I have very little indesign knowledge and little to no CSS knowledge so I want to try to avoid playing with the CSS afterwards.

    What would be the best way for me to create the epub with least formatting problems having been given a well formatted indesign file.

    Thanking you

    Reply
  15. Kate

    Is there a similar article for people who are familiar with web design? I was excited to find out that epub documents work the same way as a website file, but when I looked into the epub I wasn’t sure which format to use. I could recognize the html but I have no idea how page breaks are going to work in this format, where to put containers, how the chapter file works and how it separates/names chapters. I looked for an online manual like the ones you can find for html that tell you how to produce actual web pages and couldn’t find anything on this subject. I really like the idea of being able to use animated images in my epub books and couldn’t find anything on that. There seems to be a lack of information for designers.

    Reply
    • David Kudler

      Kate, thanks for asking!

      In the first place, check out some of my other articles in this series, especially Ebook Anatomy: Inside the Box. That will hopefully give you at least some point of reference for the peculiarities of ePub construction.

      I can also recommend a couple of books: Liz Castro’s great nuts-and-bolts intro to ePub creation ePub: Straight and to the Point or Jared Buse’s ePub from the Ground Up, which is a bit more up-to-date, and touches more on ePub3. Each goes in greater depth into the ins and outs of ebook structure than I am able to here.

      Reply
  16. Ura

    Because I have access only to Android devices, I can’t use Calibre when creating epubs, but because I write multi-chaptered stories, conversion websites and apps don’t serve me anything, either. What am I to do?

    Reply
    • Andy

      How about buying a PC?

      Reply
    • David Kudler

      At the moment there’s not a lot you can do. Honestly? A good ebook designer is going to charge a heck of a lot less than a computer would cost!

      Reply
  17. Tina

    Hi David,

    Have you encountered the problem with missing images when editing ePubs in Sigil or Calibre? When ePub is exported from InDesign, all images are there, but when I resave the same file in any editor, then images are missing (showing X instead of the image)? Images go missing on ebook viewers like AlReader and Bazaar. It wouldn’t bother me if all ePubs behaved the same way on those viewers, but I found out that only mine ePubs behave this way.

    Best,

    Tina

    Reply
    • David Kudler

      Tina, I haven’t encountered that. Because it’s happening in both Sigil and Calibre, I’m going to guess that it’s something to do with the way that you’re exporting the images from InDesign.

      What version of ID are you using? What settings are you using in the export dialog?

      Have you tried opening the ePub file in AIReader or Bazaar before you edit the ebook?

      Reply
      • Tina

        David, I am using the latest version of ID.
        Yes, when I open epub before editing the file, all images are shown correctly. Once I resave the file in Sigil/Calibre – all images are gone.
        I downloaded some sample epubs on the internet and resaved in Sigil, and images went missing, too. And that’s odd, because everyone edits epubs after exporting, so I really don’t understand how they retain images.

        Reply
        • David Kudler

          I’m assuming you’re using the latest versions of Sigil and Calibre as well.

          What format are the images?

          Also, when you look at the “book browser” in either app, do you see a folder marked Images? What’s inside of it?

          If the files are there, then there’s something about the way that you’ve got Sigil and/or Calibre set up that is messing with the manifest — the part of the master OPF file that tells the ereader where to find files.

          If they’re not there…. Well, I have no idea. But that would be interesting! Look to see if the files are somewhere else in the file structure. If not, then they’re somehow being deleted.

          Reply
        • David Kudler

          Oh — one possibility (if the files are there) is that you’ve got file names that don’t play well with ereaders — there are spaces or other non-standard characters (like, say, slashes) that mess with things.

          Have you run the pre- and post-edit files through IDPF’s ePubcheck validator? What errors if any does it give — and do those change?

          Reply
          • Tina

            Hi again,

            Many thanks for helpful insights! No errors after validation. It seems that the problem is indeed in the path (as images are there, where they should name; correct name). But Sigil adds /Images/cover.jpg.
            I got a reply from Alreader developer, and he said that the version was a bit outdated and it didn’t support relative/indirect paths or something like that :)

            So it seems that my epub is OK :)

          • David Kudler

            Glad to hear it, Tina!

            If anyone else comes across this problem, here’s what’s going on:

            When InDesign (like a lot of other conversion tools) exports to ePub, it puts all of the files — XHTML text files, images, fonts, stylesheets, video, and the rest — into a single folder named OEBPS (that’s the main content directory in the ebook package).

            This makes things hard to find when you’ve got hundreds of different files of different types in the package, and occasionally leads to problems.

            Both Sigil and Calibre reorganize all of the files in the OEBPS folder the first time they open the file. XHTML files all go into the Text folder, images into the Images folder, fonts into the Fonts folder, etc.

            All references are then given relative to the file from which the link is being called.

            So if you’ve got an image in a chapter (that is, an XHTML file), you’d reference it like this: src="../Images/image.jpg"

            The two dots before the first slash tell the ereader to go up one directory, then to look for the Images folder, and then to look for the file called image.jpg.

            The problem that Tina was having was that her software was old and expected all of the files to be in the same directory. It didn’t know how to handle a relative URI (file address), and so it gave that X-ed out “can’t find it!” image.

  18. S A Stirling

    I am about 50 pages into a MS Publisher 2010 document with each page (or 2) showing photo(s) and text about a historic marker. I want to incorporate a custom Google map also. Probably will have 200 pages total.

    I want to convert into some software, if possible, that will enable me to do a print and e-book (using epub??). What is the best way to proceed? Do I need to start over from scratch with Writer2epub or other different software?

    (I have access to InDesign but it seems so complicated compared to MS Publisher. I also have access to Adobe Acrobat Professional and can use that proficiently.)

    Reply
    • David Kudler

      SP —

      You can do it — but it won’t be a one-step process.

      Microsoft Publisher was a page-layout app, intended for creating small print jobs — fliers, brochures, etc. Nothing reads Publisher files that I know of. You can export the file from Publisher as either a PDF or an HTML file or (interestingly) as an email.

      For the purposes of creating an ebook, you’ll want to export as an HTML file. Many of the conversion tools that I discussed in the most recent post in this series will import HTML; you can also open the file in Microsoft Word and save it as a Word doc. From there, you can import the file into whatever ebook-creation tool you prefer.

      The Google Maps idea is a great one — those are what are called widgets — little self-contained bits of code that can pull information from outside the book. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to make happen with Google Maps — unless you’re willing to create the book in iBooks Author and have it be available only on Apple’s ebook store. And if you do try to get a map into your ebook not using iBooks Author, know that it won’t display on Apple’s iBooks — either on an iPad, an iPhone, or a Mac. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

      Reply
  19. AC de Fombelle

    Hi!

    I’d like to also add to this list one of the Streetlib tools called StreetLib Write: It’s an easy online editor to create ePubs (as well as .mobi, or PDF files for print. I take the liberty to talk about it here because it’s free and with no commitment to StreetLib whatsoever. You build your file, you use it the way you like.

    Thanks and Enjoy!

    PS: we have a new version tested right now, it allows ePub3/FL creation.

    Reply
  20. Bren Murphy

    Hi David,
    Thanks for helping here – I didn’t know about changing the file type to zip and then opening the file and seeing it just like a website – what a great way to approach this process!
    I’m stopping my Calibre right now and switching over to Jutoh – sounds simpler and Calibre was a little too complex for me to work through. The Calibre user interface just didn’t work as simply as I’d hoped.
    Thanks
    Bren Murphy

    Reply
  21. Christine Keleny

    I use Jutoh also and have not had any issues. It has a fairly small learning curve and good online support if you run into snags.

    Reply
    • David Kudler

      Thanks, Christine. As I told Phillipe, I used Jutoh a few years ago, when it was still in beta. At the time I was underwhelmed by the conversion engine, and I still had to edit the final product. For a commercial product, it seemed less than ready for prime time. It sounds like it’s time to check it out again!

      Reply
      • Sarah Ettritch

        If you style your Word file appropriately, and you’ll have to do that no matter which conversion software you use, using Jutoh to convert from Word to EPUB is as simple as filling in your project information (author, title, etc.), importing your file, and pressing a button. The great news is that it also converts to MOBI and a bunch of other formats by pressing that same button. I upload the MOBI to Amazon and the EPUB everywhere else and have never received a complaint from the bookstores or readers. Best money I’ve ever spent on a tool.

        Reply
  22. Philippe Roy

    I have only get poor results from Calibre. Now I use Jutoh, wich produce extremely reliable outcome, with a very clean code, and all the options a power user may want. It can produce books in any format, including a meatgrinder ready document for Smashwords.

    Reply
    • David Kudler

      I’ve always had good results with Calibre — though I will admit that I expect to hand-finish any conversion, whatever the source. I used Jutoh a few years ago, when it was still in beta. At the time I was underwhelmed by the conversion engine, and I still had to edit the final product. For a commercial product, it seemed less than ready for prime time. It sounds like it’s time to check it out again!

      Reply
  23. Jason Matthews

    Great stuff, David. Just a note that Smashwords also accepts ePub via Smashwords Direct. They don’t do any conversions to it and ask that the cover image is included as the first page.

    Reply
    • David Kudler

      Thanks, Jason!

      Smashwords does accept ePub files (huzzah!) — but if you don’t upload a Word doc, your book won’t be previewable on the site.

      Reply
  24. Michael W. Perry

    Starting with a disclaimer (i.e. Option 4), is no excuse for biased writing. He refers to “some cost,” for instance, but gives no idea what those costs might be or how long users might be forced to wait.

    Reply
    • David Kudler

      There are a huge number of factors that go into the cost of a conversion, from the state of the book (digitized? format?) to its complexity (footnotes/endnotes? tables? number of images? sidebars) to any desired enhancements (audio/read-aloud? video? animation? scripting/widgets?) that giving a range of costs would be a bit meaningless. I’ve charged as little as $50 for a straightforward conversion to around $2,000 for a children’s picture book with animation, a read-aloud track (recorded by me) and a bunch of custom scripting. There are folks who charge more and some who charge less. I didn’t feel as if I could give a meaningful range.

      If you’d like to get a sense of the costs involved, you could check out Joel’s site ebookconversiondirectory.com. Some of the entries are out of date, but it’ll give you a sense of the range of services and costs. And it’ll offer a few hundred possible services — including mine.

      Reply
      • jo

        How to create epub ebook with geometrical, 3D renderings, photos?

        Pdf goes perfectly, but on Kobo, Amazon and others need to epub, kindle who see very badly.

        Reply
      • Andy

        OK, I went there and still didn’t get any figures. So how about the following:

        About 300 pages in Word formatted as typical hardcover book.
        No colors whatsoever except a cover page
        A half a dozen styles in the main body (like emphasis, handwriting, things like that).
        Drop caps.
        Three levels of subdivision (named parts and chapters, unnamed sections divided by image separators).
        A few pages with special formatting (title, part headers, one-paragraph introductions).
        MAYBE a illustrations.
        A short endnotes section. (Formatted in Word using bookmarks, so each note contain annotated phrase and page number while there are no any markings in the main text. If that’s possible in ePub.)
        Several custom ttf fonts (have to be embedded).
        All in foreign language with non-Latin (Cirillic, to be exact) script.

        Reply
        • David Kudler

          Are you asking for a quote? If so, I’d want to see the manuscript — and, honestly, I might recommend using a designer who works in the language of the book. My family are from Belarus and the Ukraine, but alas, I don’t read the language. It might not be a problem, but it would be helpful to spot any oddities.

          Color costs nothing. Use it to your heart’s delight! Just make sure that the design looks good. ;-)

          The notes idea you’ve got can be done in ePub — I can style a hyperlink so that it looks the same as the text around it — but if there aren’t any visible marks, no one will click on the link, because no one will know it’s there.

          TTF fonts won’t work, even on those ereaders that display custom fonts. You’ll need to use OTF (Microsoft’s OpenType Font format) font files. And you’ll need to be sure that you have the license to use those files in an ebook.

          The image separators are still images — but can be used easily. And most of what you’re asking for is fairly straight forward.

          Reply

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