Long has my inbox-on both LinkedIN and Facebook-been filled with inquiries on various ePub creation software, especially regarding two specific platforms: Sigil and Calibre. Both are free, open-source creations of unselfish and brilliant folks that saw the eBook industry coming a long time ago. I’ve fiddled around happily with Calibre for over a year and been fairly happy, but only just this week did I pay heed to the various forum posts praising Sigil. After watching a few video tutorials and scrolling through the basic crash course I downloaded the open source system in less than a minute.

The pros of this program are immediately apparent: the interface is rather DIY friendly, the icon design seemed crisp and best of all the creation of the TOS (Table of Contents) couldn’t be simpler. One merely highlights the chapter heading as an h1 or h2 (or any ‘h’, really) for each chapter, then hit a button and “voila!” the beautifully-linked chapters appear in a list on the right hand side, glowing in their success and all ready to be tested. This contrasts to the more involved, coded approach that users of Calibre have struggled with, sometimes abandoning their TOS altogether.

I was also pleased to see that Sigil forms all the files necessary for an ePub file (the epub, the cover image and the metadata file) into one easy-to-upload unit, which consumers likewise can download in a less-confusing fashion than juggling three separate files.

The cons of using Sigil were not as clear as the pros, and unfortunately have proven–thus far–to be insurmountable. The program does not ‘like’ imports of text formatted in html and its ePub “validation” process creates a long list of errors to “repair” with very little information on how to find or fix said errors. After combing through various ePub-makin’ forums I managed to glean a few answers and apply them, but as of yet the ePubs I’ve made with Sigil still won’t work on either of the two devices I’ve uploaded them to. It could merely be my own inexperience with the newer program, but I noted that I had viable, readable ePubs using Calibre in less than half the time it took Sigil to generate its list of errors. I was saddened by all this, mostly for the loss of the svelte TOS for whose sake I embarked on a two-day quest for forum help. Hopefully, I can find all the errors and deliver another piece detailing what ‘worked’ but, for now–in my opinion-Calibre remains the top self-publisher’s open-source ePub creator.

Via Greene Ink