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Old 01-29-2022, 08:26 PM   #1
woody649
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Default Epub frustration

I have now self-published four books, with three of them having digital versions in addition to the printed versions. For the digital versions, I relied on the built-in conversion on the Amazon KDP web site to generate the Kindle version, and I relied on the built-in converter on the Barnes and Noble Press web site to generate the EPUB version. The digital versions are ... okay, but they're not great looking e-books, and I would very much like to up my game.

The problem is that I don't know what I'm doing. The EPUB file format is basically HTML, and I can't even spell HTML. Delving into a file and trying to add some formatting (such as drop caps, and/or small caps) is waaaaay beyond my capabilities.

I have tried EPUB utilities built into LibreOffice Writer, Softmaker Textmaker, a stand-along EPUB converter from Microsoft, and (finally) importing the Word manuscript into Apple Pages (the free on-line version) and then saving it as an EPUB. The Microsoft converter is too horrible for words. Both LibreOffice and SoftMaker Office have issues -- one loses boldface type but retains italics, the other loses italics but retains boldface, and a couple of other glitches.

And then there's Pages. I only just experimented with that a couple of days ago, and initially I was ecstatic. After saving the file as an EPUB, it automatically opened the file in some app called E-Book Reader, and it looked GREAT! I thought I had found the solution.

And then I opened the same file in:
  • Calibre
  • Cool Reader
  • Sumatra Reader
  • Nook Reader
And, of course, the exact same file displayed differently in every one of them. And I don't know what the E-Book Reader app was that the file initially opened in -- it doesn't seem to be on my computer, and yet it wasn't running in a browser window.


I'm totally baffled. Why do all these EPUB readers display the same file differently? How can I get a clean EPUB file that will display nicely on Nooks and other EPUB reading devices?
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Old 01-30-2022, 05:16 AM   #2
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They might all have built in stylesheets that have different default formatting. Much like Internet Explorer back in the day. As in it being different from most other browsers that is

If you can add your own CSS to a page or document it isn't particularity difficult to format some text.

   
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Old 01-30-2022, 08:00 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Aakerstrom View Post
If you can add your own CSS to a page or document it isn't particularity difficult to format some text.
I have no idea whether or not the EPUB standard (assuming there is a standard) allows for the use of .CSS files.
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Old 01-30-2022, 09:08 AM   #4
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CSS doesn't necessarily need to be in external .CSS files. It can appear at the top of an HTML file or inline.

I found a couple articles about CSS & EPUB by googling "epub and css" (w/o the quote marks). That eventually led here:

http://idpf.org/epub/30/

The epub 3.0 standard. But if you don't like the look of HTML and CSS, don't go there. It's a deep technodive.

This might be worth a quick read to get an overview:
https://blog.kotobee.com/apply-global-changes-epub-css/

   
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Old 01-30-2022, 09:36 AM   #5
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Thanks for posting that

   
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Old 01-30-2022, 03:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rindsberg View Post
CSS doesn't necessarily need to be in external .CSS files. It can appear at the top of an HTML file or inline.

I found a couple articles about CSS & EPUB by googling "epub and css" (w/o the quote marks). That eventually led here:

http://idpf.org/epub/30/

The epub 3.0 standard. But if you don't like the look of HTML and CSS, don't go there. It's a deep technodive.

This might be worth a quick read to get an overview:
https://blog.kotobee.com/apply-global-changes-epub-css/
YIKES!

Eventually I will have to try to get a handle on that stuff. At the moment, it looks terrifying.

Thanks for finding that. It gives me plenty of homework for any spare time I get.
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Old 01-31-2022, 02:15 AM   #7
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I like the look of HTML and CSS so I went there. Much like the W3C documentation regarding HTML and CSS the big hurdle is the general way of writing these documents.

In addition it seems they have something which is relatively understandable in CSS unnecessarily complicated.

The second link is a friendlier read which gives you the gist of what's involved without getting a headache.

Perhaps the Kotobee Author app mentioned would be a good place to start?

   
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Old 01-31-2022, 07:42 AM   #8
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>> Much like the W3C documentation regarding HTML and CSS the big hurdle is the general way of writing these documents.

Ah. I'm *NOT* the only one. ;-)

Kotobee's app might indeed be a good starting point.

And maybe look at TopStyle, not so much to create the original document, but to check/tweak it into shape. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TopStyle

One nifty feature of TS is the ability to preview your HTML+CSS as it will appear in a variety of browsers and devices. Saved me major stress when I had to create a couple of web pages that would work well on iPhones and the like.

   
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Old 03-26-2022, 08:54 AM   #9
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Back again, with more frustrations.

I just published two more books to epub. In one of them, when checking the final epub version in several readers I found that a section subhead appears at the bottom of one screen, and the text for that subhead is on the following screen. I'm sure that if I were at all comfortable with HTML I could open up the epub file and manually insert page breaks. But I'm not even a little bit comfortable with HTML. So would this work as a work-around?

The manuscript is in a Word .docx file. I have a fully-formatted Word file for the print version of each book, and then a separate Word file of each manuscript for conversion to epub. The epub versions have some extraneous pages (like the half title pages) removed, no headers or footers, and a hyperlinked table of contents. Chapter breaks are still formatted as breaks.

Since I did a hyperlinked table of contents rather than rely on the conversion software creating one automatically, can I just go into the Word file and manually insert a "next page" break for each of the subheads, to ensure that the subheads will all appear at the top of the screen that displays the text to which they belong?
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Old 03-26-2022, 01:14 PM   #10
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>> I'm sure that if I were at all comfortable with HTML I could open up the epub file and manually insert page breaks. But I'm not even a little bit comfortable with HTML. So would this work as a work-around?

There's no page-break command in HTML as such. The nearest thing I know of may work if converting HTML to ePub is a printing process or honors paged printing-related CSS formatting embedded in the HTML. This explains it and a simple test or two should help to decide whether it works in ePub:

https://www.positioniseverything.net/html-page-break

   
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