eBook Makers

converting html to ebooksMaking ebooks is easy. Some software packages have their own page layout facilities, but most simply compile pages that have been created in other programs.

Ebooks serve two purposes: they keep pages together for easy reading, and they prevent those pages being tampered with, i.e. copied and taken under new ownership.

To make the best choice of programs available, you have to know what features are needed, and whether they're worth paying for.

In general the field separates into two:

Creating Ebooks: Adobe's Acrobat System

The advantages are:

Popular: customers feel safe with the software

Industry standard: many printing companies will accept the pdf format

Versatile, producing good screen displays and paper printouts

Wide range of software add-ons have been developed

Works on the Windows, Mac and Unix platforms

The disadvantages are:

Adobe's software is fairly pricey.

Proper security add-ons are even more expensive.

Pdf files can be bulky.

Creating Ebooks: Webpage Compilers

A few ebook creation programs will accept text or MS Word files, but the majority compile HTML pages. That means:

programs can be reasonably cheap

But also that:

Layout is more restricted (or calls on considerable HTML authoring skills).

Pages that look good on the screen won't always print out neatly: check.

Ebook Facilities

In assessing the wide range of software that now exists for ebook creation, the key features to consider are:

1. type of computer / operating system the e-books will be read on:

desktop PCs and laptops: operating systems:

Windows

Macintosh

UNIX / Linux

e-book readers: operating systems:

Windows

Windows CE

Linux

Proprietary

handheld devices: operating systems:

Palm

PC

HPC

Windows CE

Linux

2. layout precision required: program

Compiles HTML pages

Simple formats only

Complex formats preserved

Employs own layout language

Layout through editor

Requires hand-coding

3. E-book content

Text only

Text and graphics

Basic multimedia

Flash and/or videos

Includes .pdf Acrobat files

4. E-book functionality

Individual pages can be hidden/password protected

Printing can be disabled

Copying can be disabled

Indexes easily created

Search facility can be added

5. level of security required

Password protection of whole document

Password protection of individual pages

Time expiry of e-book

Expiry after certain number of times used

Access restricted to single machine/user

User tracking

Many of the programs have free trials or demo versions, which should be tested.

Creating Ebooks: Security Considerations

Once the password is provided, what's to stop your e-book from being unlocked and copied/sold across the Internet? To be doubly safe you'll have to create e-books that will 'lock' into the hard disk specification of the individual PC, or which need to look up a password from a website you control. Details are in the comparison table, but be warned that installation instructions can be both a turn-off and a time-waster. Not everyone wants to be bothered with instructions, and sorting out unlock codes for customers can be exasperating. Many ebook publishers have now dropped the security features, accepting that their work will be pirated, but updating regularly so that previous editions act as publicity.

 

Ebook generators come in a wide variety of shapes and prices.

A free trial or demo version is generally available, and should be carefully checked: not all software performs as advertised.

Programs that 'lock' the ebook to a designated computer and/or have time-expiry features are welcome additions, but expect some hassle in implementing and dealing with customer queries.

Below is a fairly complete list.

program

price
US$

viewing platform

input as

accepts graphics

accepts flash plug-in

mult- media

hide pages

disable printing

password protection

tracking facility

notes

Acrobat
Acrobat

229-669

W M O

g h t v w

yes

no

yes

no

yes

yes

no

1 10 19

Adobe Framemaker

800

W M O

g t

yes

no

yes

no

yes

yes

no

21

Adobe Pagemaker

520

W M O

g t w

yes

no

yes

no

yes

yes

no

20

Book Generator

147

W

g h t w

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

8

yes

7

DesktopAuthor

119

W

g t

yes

no

no

no

no

yes

no

-

Ebook Pack Express

29-79

W

g h t

yes

no

yes

-

yes

yes

no

eBook Edit Pro

79

W

g h t v

yes

yes

yes

yes

no

4

no

-

eBooks Writer

119

W

g h t

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

5

no

6

Exbook

€50

W

g h t

yes

no

no

no

-

yes

no

23

Express Collage

0

W

g h t

yes

no

yes

no

no

yes

no

Fast Ebook Compiler

40

W

g h t

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

Flip Publisher

enquire

W

g h t

yes

no

yes

no

no

no

no

eBookPaper

17

W

g h t

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

9

no

-

HTML2Exe

39

W

h

yes

no

no

no

yes

11

no

-

Hyper Publish

190-226

W

h t g

yes

no

yes

no

no

no

no

Hypermaker

149

W

a g h t v

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

5

no

-

Keebook Creator

50-320

W

h t

yes

no

no

no

no

no

no

22

Microsoft Reader Add-In

0

W P

w

yes

no

no

no

no

yes

no

14

Mobipocket

0

D

g h p t w

yes

no

no

no

no

yes 8

no

-

Natata

40

W

g h t

yes

no

yes

no

yes

yes

no

NeoBook

200

W

g t

yes

no

yes

15

15

15

no

15

Presenter

175-594

W

g t

yes

yes

yes

no

no

no

no

12

WebEx

40

W

g t h

yes

no

yes

yes

yes

yes

no

Webpacker

99 - 149

W

g h t v

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

5

no

-

WinEbook

0

W

g t w

yes

no

no

no

no

yes

no

-

yBookmaker

0

W

h t

yes

no

no

no

no

yes

no

-

key

viewing platform

M=Macintosh, W=Windows, O=Palm OS and PocketPC, P=Pocket PC 2002, D=PDA formats including PalmOS, Windows CE/PocketPC, Psion, Epoch R5 and R6, Franklin eBookman,

input as

a=Acrobat pdf files, g=graphic files, h=HTML, p=MS Powerpoint t=text or rtf files, w=MS Word

notes

1=very fully featured including support for XML, asian fonts and third-party security, 2=security features include time-expiry and individual passwords, 3=multimedia add-on for $50, 4=security features including time expiry and restriction to single user machine, 5=security includes password protection, restriction to single user machine and time-expiry, 6=marketing software available for extra $120, 7=e-book cover generating software available for $97, 8=security features include restriction to single user machine, 9=security features include password protection of book and pages, time expiry and number of viewings, 10=eBook reader available for Windows and Macintosh platforms, 11=security includes password protect of whole document and time-expiry, 12=essentially a complete multimedia presentation package, 13=£50 add-on allows export to Flash, 14=includes site to market your books when you purchase Pocket PC 2002, 15=additional plug-ins for security ($20) and increased functionality ($30), 16=security features include password protection, time expiry, restriction to single user, disable printing and disable copying, 17=supports IE4+ but not NN browsers. 18=security via Internet tracking, 19=very wide range of add-on programs available, 20= advanced page layout program that can save in Acrobat format, 21=advanced page layout program that exports to .PDF, .LIT and Palm Reader formats, 22=compiles from Internet searches 23=autosale feature: registration at manufacturer's website.


Resources

You'll also find the following useful for your e-book software program:

ePublish. Very extensive listings of software for e-publishing and Adobe Acrobat enhancement.

eBook. Answers.com short but useful introduction.

Ebook Compilers. Short list of ebook generating software.

Microsoft Reader. Information on the product and a free plug-in to convert MS Word documents into MS Reader files viewable on a PC and PocketPC 2002.

Mobipocket. Software to convert text, graphics, MS Word and Powerpoint documents into PDA format, including PalmOS, Windows CE/PocketPC, Psion, Epoch R5 and R6, and Franklin eBookman. $149.

Palm OS and Pocket PC Software. Information on and coding required to make ebooks in Palm OS and Windows CE/Pocket PC formats.

Create PDF. Converts (online) most files to .pdf format. $10/month or $100/year. Currently available only in USA and Canada.

eBook Express. Converts (online) most files to .lit format for Microsoft Reader viewing. Free.

GoHTML. Converts text and word processor files to PDF or HTML formats.

PrintToPDF. Converts text files to PDF format (but without security features). For Mac OS7-9 platforms.

Reader Works. Software to convert various documents to Microsoft Reader format.

Rudenko Bookreader. Gives the VDU a book-like appearance. Free.

Tiny eBook Reader. Reads .txt, .html, .zip and Lit formats on the PocketPC. $14.

Win2PDF. Converts text files to PDF format : for Windows platform only. Pro version has security features.

PDS Information. Handy information on e-book software and accessories for hand-held devices.

Ebooks & Ebook Readers. The Book Designer. Overview of platforms.

 

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