Making an eBook for iOS

Update at the end of the post!

On #MyWANA the other day, I mentioned that I put my draft of my WIP on my iPod. There was some interest in that, so I thought I’d give you some ideas on how you can do that. I’m saying up front that this is more of a technical article, akin to Patrick Thunstrom’s TweetDeck series (check them out if you want to use that program at all, good stuff). You’ll need to be somewhat familiar with your computer and its programs. In short, there are 2 ways: the easy, and the not as easy way. So, if you want to take the plunge, read on!

I’ll start off with the easy way: Print your WIP as a PDF. There are a number of ways to do this, but I’ll give you two free ways. The first is to use LibreOffice or OpenOffice (they are essentially the same program, but have different names) and go to the File menu. There is an option to Export as PDF. It will ask you for a filename. The second is to get a PDF printer and print it that way. I use CutePDF Writer for that. It’s a free download, and works great. Just hit print, select CutePDF Writer (in this case) as your printer, and it will ask for a name for the PDF file.

Once it’s in that format, you can go to iTunes, go under the File menu, and select Add File to Library to import the file, and it will then show up in your Books list. Just sync your device, open iBook, and you will find it in the PDF list.

Now, while this was the easy way, I don’t like it as much. It doesn’t display nicely on my iPod Touch. So, that’s where the next way comes in. We create an EPUB. What is an EPUB? It is currently one of the main eBook formats. I know it works on iOS devices, and believe that it works on other eBook reader devices.

So, the first step is to get your document in an HTML format. That is what web pages are formatted in, and most programs should be able to save in that format. I did a Save As in LibreOffice and selected the HTML format for each chapter in my book. This isn’t necessary, as you can do a single file, I thought it worked better this way.

Next, I used Sigil eBook Editor to combine the files (if you did it like me) and create the EPUB. It’s an easy program to use. When you open the program it starts with an empty file, right-click on the text area, and Add your Existing HTML documents. Then just save the file, and move to the next step.

As with the PDF, once you are done we move back to iTunes. Using the same process as above, import the EPUB file. Once you sync, your book will show up in the eBook list, and you’ll be ready to go.

I want to mention Scriviner here. If you are using this software, you can do either of these in one easy step. It has a feature called Compile. This feature takes all the documents in the Draft folder (or optionally, the ones you specify) and compiles it into a document type of your choosing.

FYI, I’m running the Windows Beta. The instructions are specific to that version, but the Mac one should be fairly similar.

Open your Scrivener project, click on the File menu, and then Compile. This brings up the dialog box to create your document. The Windows version has the PDF option, no EPUB yet. The MAC version has both (I believe). Go through your options, and compile it. Now you have your document to Import into iTunes.

As I said, I can really only vouch for doing this on an iPod Touch. The other iOS (iPhone, iPad) devices should work the same way, or with minor differences. Other devices, like the Android phones and tablets, Kindle, and Nook probably have a way to do this as well. Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to try any of them. We have an iPad, Kindle and Nook where I work, so if I’m able to, I’ll post an update with some of that information.

There is also a MOBI eBook format. I am unfortunately not familiar with this format. I believe it should be possible to create this and place it on devices as well. I will see if I can find some information for a future post.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, corrections or clarifications, just leave me a comment. Happy (mobile) reading!

UPDATE: The Scrivener Windows beta was just updated yesterday, and some new features popped up. The ones relevant to this post are the ability to Compile into EPUB and MOBI ebook formats. I believe the Kindle uses the MOBI format. I still don’t know how to add a file to one, though. In any case. Those who use Scrivener now have an easier time at this!

2 thoughts on “Making an eBook for iOS

    • Good to know. I didn’t even think of checking Word. I have 2007 here at work, and just checked. It does have an option to save as a PDF. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

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