I tripped over another glitch today. It was in Calibre this time; the conversion software that I use for epubs (Nook, Sony, Apple iBookstore) which is a pretty universal eReading format. I’ve always been very satisfied with the epubs which come out of Calibre. You put an html file in, and a few minutes later you take an epub complete with cover and other data out. It’s usually flawless. Usually! But today it surprised me.
I’m very careful when converting my finely crafted Word documents into html files (an easy process and it’s built right into Word). But I always have to edit and tweak the file afterward. You have to force a paragraph to align itself flush left, you have to make sure that your Styles do what they are intended to do, the list goes on and on. So I get a little hot when someone or something messes with that personally edited html file.
Today I was doing a little clean-up. I always check and re-check documents before I send them out to my clients, but I don’t actually have an eReader; no Kindle, no Nook, no Sony. What I do have are apps: Kindle for PC, Nook for PC, Sony Reader Library, Adobe Digital Editions, an iPhone and an iPad. So I figure I have all the bases covered. Maybe not.
One of my clients Twittered about her new eBook, one that I had formatted; and for some reason I thought, Why don’t I just look at that book on one more app. So I whipped out Adobe Digital and uploaded her epub file. Adobe Digital is actually the easiest app to use for checking ebooks…just go to the Library feature and Add a Title to the Library, browse your computer and choose the epub you want. So I did. The Cover was wonderful, the copyright data was good, the text was perfect, the fonts were good, the quotes came out fine and were indented perfectly as I intended. BUT the Title on the Title Page was one space off center. WHAT!?! I quickly looked at the same ebook on my Kindle for PC…perfect Title Page. What the #$%#@!
Now, I know html pretty well. And what I don’t know my web-guru son can fill in. So in the past when there was wonkiness going on in a file, either the epub or the prc, I went straight back to the base html document to fix it. BUT today I discovered that Calibre takes my html and futzes with it further! I didn’t know that! I opened this “one space off” epub in Sigil (an html AND epub editor) and looked at the underlying code. It’s NOT html…similar but not quite! Oh no, another piece of the puzzle to conquer!
Well, after about 5 seconds I found the problem…it was only the Title line after all. Calibre had re-written my Title Style and inserted an extra line of code which centered the Title and THEN indented it one space. Why I don’t know. The Style description in the html doc didn’t have that indent line. So…I took it out, saved the epub, opened it in Adobe Digital…and perfect. But I’m asking now…why the indent code? Where did it come from? When will it happen again? Will this be #463 in my list of things to check on every ebook I format? I need a vacation!
For basic formatting steps look for The Ebook Revolution Formatting Guide at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and coming soon to Sony and the Apple iBookstore.