Thursday 14 July 2011

Convert PDFs to ePUB Files for Tablets/Mobiles

If you are an avid reader and have a collection of PDF e-books, you can read them using a PDF reader on your tablet. However, if you want to enjoy them on the iBook app on your iPad, the Amazon Kindle or the Android Kindle, or the Aldiko Book Reader app you’ll need your e-book to be in the ePub format.

What Is ePUB

Just like PDF or Portable Document Format, which is a uniform standard for un-editable documents, ePUB or electronic publication is a free and open e-book standard that has been created by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) for e-book readers and similar devices.

The files with the .EPUB extension support vector images, resizable font size and word wrapping options, making them usable on devices of various screen sizes. The format supports embedded metadata, Digital Rights Management (DRM), and is compressed in size and extremely customizable due to XML support and styling functionalities like CSS and XPath. Moreover, all the files are stored inside a ZIP archive for convenience.

The Tools

The first thing you need are the PDF e-books. You can download free e-books from many sources. Save the PDF files of your choice that you want to read in your target device to move to the next step. We will be using the Calibre e-book management tool to convert the PDF files. To download the tool, visit and pick the OS version of your choice. We will be using the Windows version for this workshop. Save and execute the .MSI file to set up the program.

Setting It Up

Once Calibre has been installed on your machine, start the application. If the setup wizard isn’t displayed, go to the Preferences option and start the wizard. First, set the folder where you would like the ePub books to be saved. Click ‘Next’ to set a target device; Leave it at ‘Generic’ if you don’t want the file to be device-specific. Click ‘Next’ and finish the wizard settings.

Add Metadata and Convert

Click the ‘Add Books’ button and add all the books that you want to convert. Click the ‘Convert’ button. You will be directed to an edit page, where you can edit every aspect of the final e-book. If you want more details of the book such as authors, ISBN and covers, click the ‘Edit metadata’ button before converting. Click ‘Download metadata and covers options’ to update the file details. Once that is done, proceed to converting the file.

Making The e-Book Tablet-Worthy

The ‘Look and Feel’ settings help you customize the final package based on the target device’s form factor. Next is the Heuristic processing setting. The setting will look for common errors and fix them to suit the device that handles the final output. This setting will help you unwrap text lines, look for unformatted chapter breaks, add scene breaks, remove unwanted hyphenation marks and delete blank lines and other such formatting issues in the e-book. In case you have not set the target device during the setup wizard, you can use the page set up settings to select it. This is a better way to select target devices because you can customize settings as and when you convert the e-book. Here, you can also change page margins based on the size of your device screen.

Tying Up the Loose Ends

The Table of Contents is an amazing feature, as it enables you to create a contents page if it is missing from the original file. Moreover, if you are unsure if the e-book has a contents page, you can create it by enabling the ‘Do not add detected chapters to the Table of Contents’ and ‘Force use of auto-generated Table of Contents’ options. If the book is intended for children and you find some objectionable words or phrases, you can search and replace such terms before you create the ePub book. If you want the PDF to be free of images go to the PDF option and check the ‘No Images’ option. Next, go to the ‘ePUB Output’ option, and set the options as per your requirements. If the final file is larger than a particular limit, it will be automatically split into smaller parts.
Finally, go to the ‘Debug’ option and set a target folder location to monitor the conversion. Click ‘OK’ to convert the file. Depending on the size of your file, the conversation time will vary. Once it is done, you can go ahead and transfer the e-book to your device and enjoy reading your favorite books on the go.

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