Author Topic: file conversion: PDF to epub or doc  (Read 351 times)  

Offline Joebabe

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file conversion: PDF to epub or doc
« on: February 08, 2018, 11:23:00 AM »
Im trying to get my new photo book on Amazon and Smashwords as an inexpensive eBook.  Their guidelines call for a Word doc or an epub format. 

Ive got a PDF of 114 pages, half of which are full-page images.  The PDF is designed exactly as I want the page to appear.  Essentially, each page should be treated as an image, even the ones which are full-page text.  The dimensions are already set (no bleed) and should meet eBook guidelines for devices.

The 150dpi PDF is 62MB and the 75dpi PDF is 15MB.  My goal is for the final product to weigh less than 3MB and still have high enough quality so that full-page images which appear on a tablet dont show any pixillation.  Now, both Amazon and Smashwords accept larger files, because they in turn transform the files for their platforms (and partners like iBooks).  But neither of them accept PDFs. 

Alternatively, I have each individual page as a PNG or JPG, also 150dpi.  I also have 300dpi versions of all, very heavy, if the best quality original is needed.

What I've tried so far:
-Convert my PDF by using the Calibre tool, but every time the output completely jumbled the pages and didnt show text at all.
-Kindle Comic Creator- made a 100MB mobi file from 52MB source files (PNG). No idea how it got so bloated. Also it created a white border for some reason.  Mobi works for kindle, but it still doesn't solve my problem for Smashwords.
-LibreOffice: which I'm told can convert to ePub, but the program couldn't open my PDF properly
-Fiverr.com: posted my request, but have yet to receive offers to convert my file for me

Im hoping for an easy and inexpensive solution, because the design is complete.  If you have any tips, or know anyone who might be able to help, Id sure appreciate the referral.

Note- Amazon charges delivery costs for large eBooks, so I absolutely dont want to go over 3MB

Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: file conversion: PDF to epub or doc
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2018, 01:18:54 PM »
I'm pretty sure trying to go straight from pdf to epub is a failing endeavor. Instead, start with your page-by-page jpgs. Make each file smaller by scaling it down (with picture-heavy books, I tend to go for about 550 pixels wide), then by saving at a lower quality setting (somewhere between 80 and 90% quality is where my eye starts being able to detect the results of this, so aim for right below that threshold). Using this method, a book with 150 images came to 10.7 MB, with a delivery charge of $1.61. Not great, but workable for a book priced at $8.99.

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Offline Gessert Books

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Re: file conversion: PDF to epub or doc
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2018, 01:36:32 PM »
There is no easy and inexpensive solution, sadly. PDF is an endpoint, so it's kind of like turning a hamburger back into a cow.

You can extract the text from it, but you will have to proofread the results very carefully, because there will likely be missing or substituted characters, incorrect hyphenation, etc. throughout.

As for using full-page images instead, this is not a good idea, because Amazon objects to that approach. Probably because it creates a bad user experience. Basically, they don't like it if you create a reflowable ebook that acts like a fixed-format ebook, and they also don't like fixed-format ebooks that would have been better suited for reflowable. If half of your pages are straight text, and the other half are all images, I do not think Amazon (or readers) will find it a good candidate for fixed-format or fixed-format-esque approaches.

I would be very cautious about any responses you may get on Fiverr, converting a PDF to a well-formed ebook is an arduous task, so hiring it out should be a lot pricier than most Fiverr gigs are.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2018, 01:39:29 PM by Gessert Books »

Offline dcswain

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Re: file conversion: PDF to epub or doc
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2018, 01:58:37 PM »
One idea might be to try the Kindle Kid's Book Creator, which is software created by Amazon to output fixed-format mobi files. When creating the file, one of the options is to import directly from PDF. It probably won't do much to compress the size of the file, but may be a good work-around for the formatting issue.

You can read about KKBC here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1002979921


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Online ShayneRutherford

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Re: file conversion: PDF to epub or doc
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2018, 02:14:05 PM »
In addition to what everyone else has said, I have a feeling that 57 full-page images is going to be hard to bring in under 3 mb. But you always have the 35% royalty option, which avoids download charges.
     

Offline Kate.

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Re: file conversion: PDF to epub or doc
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2018, 03:30:13 PM »
It's also a bad idea to force text to be a specific size. One of the big perks of ereaders is the ability to scale the text up as large as you need it. People with poor eyesight might need the text to be massive. If you try to make each page an un-adjustable image, you make it inconvenient or impossible for many people to read the book. It also makes it challenging for people who read with the Kindle app on their phones.

I'd second looking at the kids' book creator. I think I have a vague memory of Amazon having something similar for graphic novels?

Offline Joebabe

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Re: file conversion: PDF to epub or doc
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2018, 04:11:55 AM »
Thank you all for your generous advice.  Using Kindle Kids' Book Creator, I was able to produce a final product Im happy with.  No pixellation, unified black border.  I thought doing facing pages as a spread would reduce the size, but it didnt.  The eBook 4x6in spread from 150dpi jpg files.mobi is 32MB.
My book file size after conversion is 15.37 MB.  I will submit this in the short-term, and price the book much higher than I want to, to offset the delivery charges.

Long-term Im re-sizing the whole thing to 550 x 825 pixels (3.67 x 5.5in @150dpi).  This will take a lot of re-formatting (Im using Lucidpress) so I wont have an update for awhile.  Then, Ill run it through KKBC again as above.  This should reduce delivery charges, but still end up with a converted file above 3MB.  Ill let you know.

Alternately, Ill try to import the photos in Scrivener, and actually use text (24pt Baskerville) for the full-page written parts.  This should reduce the size, because the text wont be treated as images.  Of course, this is all theory.  I dont know how to use Scrivener this way, and Im sure its not designed to do this.  For example, white type on a black background - is this even possible?  If I succeed, Scrivener outputs to .mobi .epub and such just fine.  Wish me luck!  (Or correct me if Im going on another wild goose chase)

Offline Speaker-To-Animals

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Re: file conversion: PDF to epub or doc
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2018, 04:21:09 AM »
I wouldn't bother with Scrivener for that. It is not an ebook production application, it's a writing application that happens to have a basic ebook export. I think you probably need to do something like this by hand to get the best result.

I would make sure to read it on a variety of devices and see what it looks like because some of the sizes you're talking about are half the resolution of an ipad. I can't imagine that's going to look great.

Offline Sleeping Cat Books

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Re: file conversion: PDF to epub or doc
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2018, 04:41:02 AM »
Alternately, Ill try to import the photos in Scrivener, and actually use text (24pt Baskerville) for the full-page written parts.  This should reduce the size, because the text wont be treated as images.
Sigil would be a better option, as it's designed exactly for creating ePub files.

Forgive me for asking, but do you own an ebook reader or have you read an ebook? It just seems to me like maybe you don't really understand how reflowable ebooks work, and that trying to duplicate a print page design for ebook consumption is never a good idea. All text should be reflowable, and all images should be treated as discreet objects within the book. Forget about how the print edition pages look. Ebooks don't have pages. You need to think about the user experience and not what the "page" looks like.
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Offline notjohn

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Re: file conversion: PDF to epub or doc
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2018, 01:52:18 PM »
Sigil would be a better option, as it's designed exactly for creating ePub files.

Forgive me for asking, but do you own an ebook reader or have you read an ebook? It just seems to me like maybe you don't really understand how reflowable ebooks work, and that trying to duplicate a print page design for ebook consumption is never a good idea. All text should be reflowable, and all images should be treated as discreet objects within the book. Forget about how the print edition pages look. Ebooks don't have pages. You need to think about the user experience and not what the "page" looks like.

I get that feeling almost every day on the KDP forums. And on bad days I get the feeling that not only don't most of the posts come from people who've never read an ebook -- they've never read (or anyhow never seriously looked at) a book of any kind.
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Offline Lyle 007

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Re: file conversion: PDF to epub or doc
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2018, 06:41:51 PM »
 :P
There is no easy and inexpensive solution, sadly. PDF is an endpoint, so it's kind of like turning a hamburger back into a cow.

You can extract the text from it, but you will have to proofread the results very carefully, because there will likely be missing or substituted characters, incorrect hyphenation, etc. throughout.

As for using full-page images instead, this is not a good idea, because Amazon objects to that approach. Probably because it creates a bad user experience. Basically, they don't like it if you create a reflowable ebook that acts like a fixed-format ebook, and they also don't like fixed-format ebooks that would have been better suited for reflowable. If half of your pages are straight text, and the other half are all images, I do not think Amazon (or readers) will find it a good candidate for fixed-format or fixed-format-esque approaches.


I would be very cautious about any responses you may get on Fiverr, converting a PDF to a well-formed ebook is an arduous task, so hiring it out should be a lot pricier than most Fiverr gigs are.

 :P :P :P that was so funny! ... hamburger back into a cow ...

Experimenting and figuring out how to reverse a mess sucks ... I know.


Offline Joebabe

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Re: file conversion: PDF to epub or doc
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2018, 03:11:17 AM »
Your advice and guide on formatting is helpful.  Your mockery isn't.

A photo book is a really different animal.  How would you re-flow Washington Crossing the Delaware?  Maybe show an oar first, then a wig, then a couple words from the caption, then the boat, then the icy water, and finish with more jumbled words from the caption?  What kind of user experience does that create?

I'm sure of the effect I'm trying to achieve, which can work as well in an eBook format.  Other fixed-design projects like childrens' books, manga and the like might also benefit from conscientious replies to the same questions I'm asking.  I thank those who share their insight without denigrating them who ain't got the same skillz.  We gotz udder skillz.