Creating EPUB-format ebooks for the iBookstore

I formatted one of my books (well, 40-page booklet) for release as an eBook. I took out the tables, simplified the structure, eliminated multiple fonts, redid the cover, and so forth. My intent was (is) to release it on both Amazon/Kindle and Apple/iPad.

After some poking around, I came across a spiffy eBook manager/converter called Calibre. I downloaded it, ran my book through, and converted it to MOBI (for the Kindle) and EPUB (for the iPad). I checked the MOBI version using a Kindle simulator that Amazon supplied, since I don’t have a Kindle myself. I checked the EPUB version by dragging it into iTunes and syncing into my iPad. Both versions looked good!

After signing up on both websites, I uploaded the MOBI version to Amazon, and it’s out there selling. When I tried to upload the EPUB version to Apple, however, I was met with a loooooong string of errors. During troubleshooting, I came across a statement on Apple’s help site that says, “Do not use Calibre. It generates invalid EPUB files.” It appears that iTunes will accept improperly-formatted EPUBs, but the Apple store will not.

I plan on doing a whole string of these eBooks, so I don’t want to pay a service to convert it for me. The other two options Apple suggests are buying software from them (Pages) or buying software from Adobe (InDesign). Although I do have InDesign, it’s an old version that lacks EPUB support.

Any suggestions? Have any of you created your own EPUB eBooks and offered them for sale through Apple? What did you use for the conversion?

Thanks in advance for any help!

Calibre is extremely active development-wise, so I bet they’re working on this right now. Check out the Calibre section on Mobileread’s forums.

I create my ePubs by hand, generally.

Have you tried epubcheck or something similar yet, to validate the ePub structure?

And, what source format are your books? claims “Publish to the Apple iPad, B&N nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, iPhone and more” “It’s fast, easy and FREE!”

Disclaimer: I haven’t used it yet, although I’ve seen it recommended and plan to check it out.

I noticed in last week’s update that Caliber ignores EPUB format errors when it transfers to iTunes. I hope they’re working on it, but that’s not a good sign.

I have not tried a validator. I wouldn’t mind hand-tweaking if this was just one book, but I don’t want to have to do that every single time. I’d rather find a tool that works correctly.

I use Microsoft Word at the moment. I transferred this book into InDesign and did my print formatting there. Unfortunately, I had to rip all of that formatting out to create the eBooks. Nonfiction with tables and illustrations isn’t as straightforward as fiction.

I just spent a little bit of reading time on the Smashwords site. The conversion is, indeed, free. Then they upload it to Apple on your behalf, accept the royalties on your behalf, delay the payments to you, and take a percentage of the royalty.

To me, that defeats the purpose of doing it myself.

Have you tried Atlantis Word Processor?

Any EPUB file generated by Atlantis Word Processor, always passes through the EPUB validation test.

Didn’t somebody buy Calibre and there was talk/worry that it was bought so it could be trashed in some way?

I think Amazon or Apple didn’t like how easy it is to use open formats (ie not have one of theirs which they can lock down and charge).

You can use a validatorto find the errors and then fix them manually using Sigil. Depending on the number and kind of errors, it could be fairly time consuming. I’ve been using Sigil for personal projects for a while, but I never published anything through Apple. It’s great at fixing things, but doesn’t have enough editing tools for creating longer books.

Or you can use an EPUB creation tool that does not generate erroneous EPUBs.

As you might know, Sigil makes more changes to EPUB files than you might expect. Those implicit changes might be quite significant, and sometimes entirely unacceptable. When you need to make “delicate” changes to existing EPUB files, you can use the free “tweak_epub” utility:
With this utility, you can make changes to individual files from EPUB packages without affecting other files.

Actually, Apple made a point of using an open format.

First time I wanted to publish book on iBookstore I only used Sigil and after couple of corrections it worked (but I did study EPUB and XHTML extensively for some years now). As for Smashwords, you could convert it to EPUB by their standards until it is ready for their Premium status. You do not have necessarily to publish it through them, just upload that same file directly to Apple, it should work.