Small and Simple
Is there a space in the world of publishing for a simple but efficient piece of software?
I design and write software for a living. For a bit of fun I tried to write a novel. Having written it, I tried to turn my novel into an EPUB. To my amazement, it was extraordinarily awkward to do, so I wrote some code.
I firmly believe that the best software is small, simple, does only one thing and is born to play nicely with other software rather than demanding its user to change his or her lifestyle to be able to use it.
I have written some open source Python which turns multiple text files into an EPUB. It is not that clever or tricky but it works well. The code will deal with text files that include HTML or Markdown snippets, it allows anyone with basic web skills to change the look of their resulting eBook making it unique even beautiful.
My little software does not do marketing, it is not an editor and does not have a GUI. It will however work nicely with GitHub and DropBox if you want it to and will let you easily create a two-level table of contents and other useful things.
Any author or publisher who uses the code can keep everything needed to re-generate their book whenever they want. Tweaks to the text or styling are free – forever.
This little bit of code can take input arguments and generate a personalized copy of an eBook. One could include a personal message from the author, or a link that tells the distributor exactly which purchaser enjoyed the book.
My little bit of Python is good friends with EpubCheck, KindleGen and FlightDeck.
Perhaps most importantly, the code works from a human writeable, text based description of the eBook. This description is I believe, much more useful than EPUB as a “standard” for eBooks. This could become a standard for the book creators while EPUB remains the standard for eBook reader software.
John Cobo, Creator of EpubChef