View this screencast of my DIY Ebooks presentation for an in-depth look at the E-Book production process.
Stats on EBook Reading and Publishing
Pew Study on the rise of ereading (April 4, 2012).
E-Book and E-Reader stats and charts.
Vendors who will convert files to EPUBs
Smashwords will convert a Word document, formatted according to their guidelines, into an ebook which they will then distribute it to the major ebook retailers. The conversion itself service is free, but Smashwords takes a 10% cut of partner sales and a 15% cut from sales on their own website.
Lulu.com will convert PDFs and Word documents to Ebooks. Cost is between $290 and $400 dollars depending on the size of the document and the format.
Kindle Direct Publishing. If you want to sell your book only in Amazon’s Kindle Store, you can convert your Word file to the Kindle format using KDP. Creating an account is free.
Applications that will convert files to EPUB
iWork Pages will export to EPUB.
Calibre. A free and open source e-book library management application. Converts from a large number of formats to a large number of formats. It automatically detects and creates book structures like chapters and table of contents and insert the books metadata into the final project. It doesn’t convert Word documents directly to EPUB and MOBI, but is does convert from RTF (rich text format, a generic word processing format), HTML, and PDF. The Calibre manual cautions, however, that “PDF is a terrible format to convert from.”
Adobe InDesign. Part of Adobe’s Creative Suite. InDesign is the industry standard publishing application for print publications, interactive PDF documents, digital magazines, and eBooks. It has a number of features that print designers really value, like powerful layout and type-setting tools, tools for integrating artwork into designs, and user-defined styles for paragraphs, objects, and characters. Has some very powerful tools for converting InDesign documents to Epubs. Features include the ability to automatically create a navigational table of contents, rasterizing the first page as a cover, breaking up the content into separate files based on user-defined styles, embed fonts, define metadata, even attach an external style sheet.
Desktop E-reading Applications & Previewers
Adobe Digital Editions. A lot of libraries and companies use Adobe’s digital rights management system, so it’s very common. This is your generic, vanilla eReader. Good sense of how it’s going to look on other platforms.
EPUB Reader Plugin for Firefox. Allows you read EPUBs in the Firefox browser without any additional software.
Ibis. A free, web-based ereader. Allows you to read your EPUBs without software anywhere where you have an internet connection.
Bookle. Mac-only stand-alone EPUB book reader.
Nook for Desktops. Barnes & Noble EPUB reader..
Kindle for Desktops. Desktop reader for Amazon's MOBI files.
Kindle Previewer. Kindle Previewer is a graphical user interface tool that emulates how books display across Kindle devices and apps. It also automically converts EPUB files to the MOBI format.
There is presently no desktop software that lets you proof how an EPUB will look on iBooks, Apple's iOS reader.
EPUBcheck. A command line Java application for validating ePubs from the International Digital Publishing Forum.
EPUB Validator. Free online validation tool. Upload a file of up to 10 MB and the validator will report any errors, which file they are in, and where (line numbers).
EPUB Check for Mac. An applescript for validating EPUBs. Just drag & drop ePub files onto the AppleScript, and the script will run epubcheck and report back on errors.
EPUB De-Compressor / Compresser
An EPUB can be unzipped on a PC by simply changing the file extension from .epub to .zip and unzip normally. This will not work on a Mac.
EPUB Unzip and EPUB Zip for Mac. A pair of applescripts that de-compress and re-compress EPUB files.
You can use any code editor to edit the files of an unzipped EPUB. Some popular editors are Sublime 2, BBEdit, NotePad++, Emacs, and TextWrangler. A nice feature of TextWrangler is that it allows the user to edit the files inside an EPUB without unzipping it.
Sigil is a dedicated code editor for EPUBs. It features multiple views: book view, code view, and preview View. Other features include: table of contents generator, metadata editor, spell-checking, and an integrated EPUB validator called FlightCrew.
Authoring (iPad Only)
Adobe Publisher Suite. A tool to create, develop, and deliver iPad apps such as brochures, portfolios, yearbooks, or annual reports without writing code
iBooks Author. A tool for creating interactive E-Book applications for the iPad.
ePub Zen Garden. A collection of CSS stylesheets specifically designed for ePubs.
Converting to Kindle formats (MOBI and KF8)
KindleGen is a command line tool that generates a single file supporting both KF8 and Mobi formats.
Kindle Previewer also automatically converts EPUBs opened in the application to KF8 and Mobi formats.
Readium. An extension for Google Chrome that allows you to read EPUB3 documents without additional software.
EPUB3 Samples. This is a repository of EPUB 3.0 sample documents. The collection is intended to showcase features of the EPUB 3 standard, and to provide testing materials for Reading System developers
EPUB 3 Support Grid. The Book Industry Study Group provides this regularly updated grid of EPUB 3 support and functionality. Find out what devices support what features.