I just suddenly thought, even though this blog is all about creating epubs for ereaders, its actually a bit annoying to have an epub if you don’t have an ereader. So, I quickly converted the test Poe Two Blackwoods Stories epub into a PDF.
Converting EPUB into PDF is actually a bit harder than it should be. EPUBs are basically a zip file with the text contained in XHTML files. Like any web page there is no exact page layout encoded. So to create a PDF, the text must be laid out on a standard page format. One method is to create a CSS file that will add proper layout and formatting to your html, but it takes some tweaking to get it working correctly, and you still need a method to create a PDF from this layout. Ideally, as a book editor you would simply copy the text into a word processor/publishing program and do the layout by hand to ensure all the page breaks and formatting make sense.
However, I don’t want to spend a bunch of time re-editing this file!
The quickest automated conversion method is to use Calibre’s (free, open-source ebook manager, http://calibre-ebook.com) built-in conversion tool. However, you have to fiddle around with the settings a lot to get good results, because the converter is aimed at making a custom PDF designed for a specific screen size (i.e. your particular ereader or tablet), not a standard print PDF.
I used a different slightly silly work around:
Using 7-zip (free, open-source archive manager, http://www.7-zip.org) I extracted all the files from the epub (7-zip automatically recognizes epubs as zips). The actual text will appear inside a directory as XHTML files–in this case, there is one for each “chapter” of the book. I opened each with Firefox, and printed it as a PDF. However, I changed the print settings to make the font bigger and add some margins to the page. This crudely converts the free flowing epub text into a page layout. Then I took the PDF printout of each chapter and merged them into a single PDF. Finally, I edited the PDF metadata, just to try to be thorough about everything.
This creates a very basic PDF, basically recreating the look you would have on an ereader.
Since PDF is an accepted format at wordpress.com, I can share it right here: