Friday, February 3, 2012

Mobi "Build" and EPUB "Zip"

Last spring (2011), I put my then most recently published novel, Epico Bayou, into ePUB format. Elizabeth Castro's EPUB Straight to the Point was my guide. I never got to Chapter 4, "Advanced EPUB Formatting", which had been my real goal. You see, I have a Nook, and on that Nook, I have the free "classics" Barnes and Noble provided with the eReader. I want my ebooks to look like those classics.

At the time, Smashwords, where my books can be purchased in digital format for any eReader, had not come to an agreement with Barnes and Noble regarding distribution of Smashword's EPUB-formatted books, and Barnes and Noble was accepting uploads to its Pubit program, which converts books into EPUB for the Nook. I considered those good reasons to delve into EPUB formatting, with the added benefit of making my books as pretty as Barnes and Nobel's "classics."

Instead, my twenty-two-year-old daughter informed her father and me that she and her Israeli boyfriend were tying the knot, and they were coming home to Mississippi to do it. Needless to say, my goals involving Chapter 4 were set back, and I planned a beautiful wedding. By the time the dust had settled, my books could be purchased for the Nook from the Barnes and Noble Ebook Store, and I had my own web page at the Apple iTunes Store--like a rock star! Yessss. Mike Coker at Smashwords had been busy. See sidebar.

So completing that final chapter of Elizabeth Castro’s EPUB Straight... and making Epico Bayou as pretty as a Barnes and Noble "classic" faded in importance, and I turned my attention to getting River's Bend on the street (in print) and ultimately into the Kindle store as a mobipocket.AZW ebook.

Now, I spent a lot of hours with EPUB Straight to the Point last year, and I learned a lot--knowledge that proved invaluable when I started putting River's Bend into mobi format. From prior experience with Smashwords and its Formatting Guide, I knew how to format books in Word (.doc) for conversion to digital format, and I knew enough .html to convert that properly formatted Word document into .html, then clean it up. Converting Word to .html creates a messy .html document.

EPUB and mobipocket have a lot in common. In fact, from what this laywoman has been able to decipher from her internet research and the International Digital Publishing Forum (see sidebar), the former is an upgrade of the latter--or an upgrade from whatever the latter derived from. The EPUB format is more complicated in that it’s longer, the headers slightly more complex, and the content greater, but certainly manageable. The two biggest problems I had with EPUB were "validating" my EPUB file by downloading and running a java script in my "current" directory and "zipping" the EPUB files comprising my book.

I know what zipping is--compressing files to make them smaller so they take up less "cyberspace" when sent over the internet--or something to that effect. But I have trouble with it. I have trouble with the tools one uses to "zip" or "unzip". I dread dealing with either one, and every time I use one or the other, I am forced to relearn what I never really learned in the first place. I know it shouldn't be that hard. I have WinZip on my new computer. The program looks like it should be able to do everything one needs with one click of the button. Maybe some people can, but I can’t, which brings me back to what prompted this post to begin with: Mobipocket Creator.

I understand enough about the conversion of documents into eReader formats to be able to do it. More often than not I don't understand what the "converters" are doing to these carefully formatted .html, .txt, and graphic files during the conversion process, but I do know that EPUB files must be "zipped" together for the iPad/iPod/S4/Nook or whatever--the eReader--to display them as a book on the screen.

I know that with Mobipocket Creator, you put the files in the publishing window and click "build." That creates the .prc, which you can then upload to various places--in my case, to Amazon where the .prc is converted into mobi’s AZW format for Kindle.

In my mind, that "build" order is equivalent to the "zip" order. But I can't find anything to confirm that. Also, when you hit "build" in the Creator's publishing window, the Creator takes you to the next screen where you have to decide not only your encryption options but also your "compression" options--one of which (the one April Hamilton suggests you choose, as a matter of fact) is “no compression.” That rules out an inherent parallel between “build” and "zipping," right?

Whatever... If there’s anyone out there who knows what happens when you hit "build" and how that equates to what happens when you "zip" in EPUB, please let me know.

What I do know is this: If I find my new .prc book faulty in any way and need to correct it, all I have to do is go to my book's folder in the "My Publications" file on my hard drive, open the egregious file with Notepad++, fix it, close it, re-upload it to the Creator's publishing window, then "build" again. Everything is overwritten, and there’s the corrected .prc. None of that zipping and unzipping I dread so much.

And lastly, I need to download some information on that KF8 format for Kindle Fire--drop caps and embedded fonts. Now that's gonna be pretty!

Thanks for reading.


1 comment:

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