Since Tom and I launched 360|Whisperings, it’s been a massive learning curve. Technologically speaking primarily.
It turns out that eBook creation on a Mac is something of a… well it doesn’t seem to happen much, so the tools either aren’t there, or suck.
When we started down the road to becoming eBook publishers, I had no idea the levels of hell it was to create the myriad formats that most common eBook readers, read.
We started with the Kindle, because well it’s the easiest. You see Amazon’s DTP portal let’s you upload your work, and bam, they handle converting it. You technically can start with a PDF or word doc, but those come out looking, well, Jenky is a good word. However the portal creates HTML that you can then download and tweak. Once I got the hang of that, I simply re-create the content in clean, spartan HTML. Then I zip it up, and bam, it’s a Kindle friendly (propreitary) eBook, ready for sale on their site.
Since so few people own Kindle’s and only the US can even buy them, we wanted to make sure to not neglect the other formats, namely mobi (which the Kindle’s format is a derivitive of) and ePub.
I looked high and low for tools, checked the forums, etc. I finally found the common tool is Mobipocket creator. It’s Windows only. Blech. I’ve got a VM now, who’s only purpose is to run MobiPocket Creator.
There’s also Calibre, which is nice, not overly stable, but nice. It can take a .prc (the basic output of MobiPocket Creator, and the same as mobi) and turn it into an ePub doc. I think Calibre has a ton of potential. The UI is less than stellar, and the crashiness, well that sucks, but the converting formats, that’s huge!!
So at the end, we’ve got the three primary formats, PDF is also an option too, when we create them.
Sidenote: There’s also Sigil, which is super new and pre-Alpha. It’s an actual editor that then saves out ePub. While it’s nice, it’s a bit feature starved at the moment to be truly useful to me.