eBook Publishing

I put together a standard operating procedure (SOP) that I used to produce ebook versions of books that existed in print and PDF forms at my previous employer, including the one I wrote, Failure Analysis Techniques for Electronics. Luckily, I had the original Microsoft Word files for each book as a starting point.

SOP for creating eBook files from MS Word documents

  • Open/Edit Document in MS Word
    • Word .doc files have to be converted into HTML.
    • Please note that Word .docx files are much easier to convert since they are already in an XML file format, which is similar to HTML.
      • XML was designed to store and transport data, while HTML was designed to display data and its appearance.
  • Remove the page numbers from the Table of Contents by going to References, Insert Table of Contents, uncheck box for Show Page Numbers.
  • File, Save As, Web Page, Filtered, .HTM file. Change file name if you want. Click Save.
    • Images may be compressed and not look as nice with the default settings.
    • To improve image quality, but also increase file size, in the Save As dialog box, click on Tools (in bottom left), Web Options, Tab for Browsers, Check Box for Allow PNG as a graphics format, Tab for Pictures, Screen Size, Click on a larger resolution, Pixels Per Inch, Click on a larger value, Click OK, Click Save.
  • Open .HTM file in web browser and check for any issues.
  • If needed, edit .HTM file in MS Word, save changes.
  • Open Calibre eBook Management (Free software found at http://calibre-ebook.com/).
  • Drag and drop .htm file into main window of Calibre, where it creates new entry as a ZIP file.
    • Also can Click on Add Books, Add Books from a Single Directory, go to location of file and select it, Click OK.
  • Right click on new entry in Main Window, Edit Metadata, Edit Metadata Individually to add cover image, edit title, author, keywords, etc. Click OK when done.
  • Right click on entry, Convert Books, Convert Books Individually. Select ZIP as input format (should be only choice). Select EPUB as output format. Click OK. Wait for Jobs animated icon on bottom right of Calibre to stop. Jobs: 1 should stop as say Jobs: 0.
  • Double click on number for the new entry and eBook viewer should open up. Check for any issues by clicking on the eBook navigation, font size, and other control buttons.
    • If issues are found, edit the original HTM and import file again into Calibre.
    • If no issues are found, the EPUB file should work on any device/program that reads EPUBs such as Apple iBooks and the Barnes and Noble Nook.
  • To create a file to read on an Amazon Kindle, right click on entry, Convert Books, Convert Books Individually. Select EPUB as input format. Select MOBI as output format. Click OK. Wait for Jobs animated icon on bottom right of Calibre to stop. Jobs: 1 should stop as say Jobs: 0.
  • The files are located in My Documents/Calibre Library or you can right click on an entry and Save to Disk in a different location.

Known Issues:

  • The MOBI file has a second set of Table of Contents at the end of the file, see Calibre’s FAQ for more information on this issue.
    • If you use Amazon’s Kindle Previewer software to convert the EPUB file to MOBI, then the second Table of Contents won’t show up.
  • The HTML code produced by MS Word is not at all elegant, but it seems to work fine.
  • DRM is not encoded in these files, so they are not copy protected.
  • Please note that when dealing with tables, it would be best to convert the tables to images in the original MS Word document.

eBook Stores and Resources

Helpful Independent Articles, Books, and Resources

Serenity Caldwell’s Presentation at Çingleton 2012

It’s a few years old now, but this video has a very useful overview of the issues involved in eBook production. Caution though, there is some language used that may be an issue in some offices, so I recommend using headphones.

Repaired an LCD Monitor

A few weeks ago I repaired Melissa’s LCD Monitor. It was the first time I attempted to fix one, but I’ve worked inside a couple notebooks and computers for a while, and I figured that I could always try to sell the parts if I what I thought was wrong with it wasn’t. One day out of the blue, her screen turned off on its own. I switched out power cables, plugged it into another power strip, and then did an internet search for resolution. (Resolution, for a monitor problem… :)) The most likely culprit was the inverter-power board.

I found a place that sells inverters and power boards for a variety of LCDs, including hers, a Dell 1707FPc 17″ with built-in USB 2.0 hub. I had to pry open the plastic case of the monitor very carefully, so that it would look nice after I put it back together in the end. I also had to remove the metal shielding around the boards. so that I could identify the type of inverter/power board that I needed. The vendor had the wrong image up for the board, but they had the best price and were helpful in responding back to me when I emailed them a picture of the board I had for confirmation.

A few weeks ago I repaired Melissa’s LCD Monitor. It was the first time I attempted to fix one, but I’ve worked inside a couple notebooks and computers for a while, and I figured that I could always try to sell the parts if I what I thought was wrong with it wasn’t. One day out of the blue, her screen turned off on its own. I switched out power cables, plugged it into another power strip, and then did an internet search for resolution. (Resolution, for a monitor problem… :))  The most likely culprit was the inverter-power board.

I found a place that sells inverters and power boards for a variety of LCDs, including hers, a Dell 1707FPc 17″ with built-in USB 2.0 hub. I had to pry open the plastic case of the monitor very carefully, so that it would look nice after I put it back together in the end. I also had to remove the metal shielding around the boards. so that I could identify the type of inverter/power board that I needed. The vendor had the wrong image up for the board, but they had the best price and were helpful in responding back to me when I emailed them a picture of the board I had for confirmation.

Here is the image of the board.

Here is the back of the monitor, after removing the stand.

This is after removing the plastic case around the back and shielding around the side USB ports.

Here is the monitor with the boards of the case exposed.

The board on the left is the inverter/power board. The board in the middle is the display driver and connectors. The board on the left in the USB hub.

Creating 3D Objects For Fun And Profit

I’ve seen a lot a products and projects recently that involve using a computer to design objects in 3D and creating a physical object in the real world from it. Eventually, I would like to incorporate some of these into a future design business with Melissa.

The first is a really neat program called ZBrush from Pixologic, which essentially enables you to sculpt digitally. The interface looks like it shouldn’t have a difficult learning curve and costs $500 to 600.

There’s also a 3D scanner from NextEngine to scan objects into the computer, which is just under $2,500. I learned about this from an interesting project called Fab@Home, which is trying to bring rapid prototyping to the more technically inclined home user. While not cheap, around ~$2,300 to 4,000 depending on how much time you want to spend in building it. Its significantly cheaper than commercially available 3D printers, such as Z Corporation’s ZPrinter 450, which starts just under $40,000.

I recently found out about the CarveWright Woodworking System, a.k.a. the Sears Craftsman CompuCarve, which I’ve read can work with some plastics as well as various woods, which runs just under $2,000. For an additional $300, they also have a scan probe attachment to do another type of 3D scanning.

Delicious Library

I started entering the books and movies that we have into a program that I bought recently called, Delicious Library. There are a few free add-ons that expand its abilities, such as DeliciTunes, which enables you to import your music from iTunes, and DeliciWeb, with which you can export your library into a web page. I still have about two more bookshelves worth of books, then a bunch of movies, music, and games to enter.

There’s a feature in Delicious Library that has the computer speak the title of the book you have just added. A cool little easter egg I found, that was a little creepy at first, is when you add any Harry Potter book, about five or so seconds after the female voice reads the title, a lower male voice, says “Voldemort.” Here is a recording of the Delicious Library Easter Egg for Harry Potter.