- TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics - http://www.teleread.com -

How to download properly-formatted fanfiction the easy way

Posted By Juli Monroe On February 11, 2013 @ 11:00 am In ereaders | 9 Comments

Fanfiction is one of the easiest sources of free reading to track down online. I use it liberally to stretch my e-reading dollars, and if you are selective, you can find enough good writing to keep you in reading material for a long time.

Traditionally, one of the downsides of fanfiction is getting the stories to your e-reader quickly, easily and well formatted. Anyone remember a little executable file called Interparse? It made converting list-serve email files into decent text documents relatively easy. I say “relatively” because a decade ago, I would occasionally spend as much time on file conversion as I did on my actual reading.

But that’s not a problem any longer. The two main fanfiction repositories right now are Archive of Our Own [1] (known as AO3) and Fanfiction.net [2]. It’s possible to easily download well-formatted stories for your tablet or e-reader from either site, although you’ll need Calibre [3] for the best results.

 

 

For Fanfiction.net, you’ll want to download the Fanfiction Downloader [4] app. As you can see from the image above, it’s very user-friendly: Simply paste the link to the story you want in the Storylink field, and then click ‘Check and Download.’ There are a variety of output formats to choose from, including EPUB and MOBI. The downloader does create  a working table of contents, so the ‘Time Until End of Chapter’ feature will work properly on Kindle Touches and Paperwhites. I don’t know about you, but that’s an important feature for me.

AO3 provides a one-button download feature, as you can see below. (Shameless self-plug here: The story pictured is one of mine.)

 

 

The EPUB version works well. It handles odd characters and creates a working table of contents. The same can not be said for the MOBI version. For best results on a Kindle, I suggest downloading the EPUB and using Calibre to convert to Kindle. If you change one setting, everything will look beautiful.

In the MOBI Output section, select ‘Ignore margins.’ Otherwise, you’ll end up with a very wide left margin, which is rather distracting.

 

 

If you don’t care about the working table of contents, and assuming the author hasn’t done something odd (like inserting double spaces after periods), the MOBI download option is perfectly fine.

If any of our readers know an easy way to download from Livejournal, please share it. I’ve used Instapaper [5] there with mixed results—most of them bad. Fortunately, most Livejournal authors also archive to AO3 or, less commonly, to Fanfiction.net.


9 Comments (Open | Close)

9 Comments To "How to download properly-formatted fanfiction the easy way"

#1 Comment By Frank Lowney On February 11, 2013 @ 11:41 am

Since I have a Mac with Pages installed, I tend to use the Safari browser’s “Reader” feature to separate the wheat from the chaff. With the text in view, I simply copy it to the clipboard and then paste into Pages. This usually grabs any illustrations as well as the fonts and styles used. I can then re-do that if I feel the need. I often capture several article like this placing each one in a separate chapter so that my students have a package of related material in the form of an ePub. The Pages.app has an excellent ePub export function.
There is another option that Mac users have but may not be aware of and that is the MacOS X Services in version 10.7 and later. Here’s a good description of the ePub service in MacOS X: [6]
Once configured, just select text and invoke the service via the contextual menu (Control-click) and an ePub document is created.

#2 Comment By -Andy- On February 11, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

So, that’s PC only?

Personally, for most of my fic downloading needs ( unless a fan fiction archive has its own ePub output generator) I use flagfic.com. It doesn’t support multitudes of ebook formats but it does the common ones. And supports some specific fic archives. Works great from my iPad. Lets me download ePub files directly into my favorite ipad ePub reader – iBooks, Stanza, etc.

Good luck finding a download tool for LiveJournal based stories. Using LiveJournal to archive fiction (fan or otherwise) is painful and a serious square peg in a round hole endeavor. Trying to extract anything from that mess requires too much manual effort since there are no standards. And most serious ficcers on LJ are moving to AO3 anyway.

And.. Did I miss a warning about fan fiction quality? Sure there’s good stuff out there but Sturgeon’s Law applies – Squared! (90% of everything is crap. And 90% of the remaining is also crap! So, approximately 1% of all fan fiction is readable. Fortunately, there are millions of people churning the stuff out for free, some even with a firm grasp of grammar and how to use a spelling check.

#3 Comment By Juli Monroe On February 11, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

Andy, as far as I know, the AO3 download function works on Mac. It also works beautifully from mobile browsers.

Fanfiction downloader has a web-only version that should work on Mac. No Mac here, so I can’t confirm it.

Yes, quality is an issue. I find AO3 to be generally higher quality than ff.net, and it does depend on the fandom. BBC Sherlock and Doctor Who (my two favorites) seem to have a better than 99:1 ratio. Maybe more like 95:1 :) When I find a good author, I grab everything and then check that person’s favorites, bookmarks, etc. That usually uncovers more decent stuff. Tumblr has some fic recommendation accounts I follow, which helps to separate decent from horrible.

Flagfic looks good. It handled my “test” fic (where the author screwed up so many things that the entire mobi file is replete with unprintable characters when downloaded directly from AO3). However, it doesn’t add a functioning Table of Content on a mobi file, so it won’t replace my current methods.

#4 Comment By Chris Meadows On February 11, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

I also mentioned this utility on TeleRead [7]. :)

#5 Comment By Juli Monroe On February 12, 2013 @ 8:21 am

Chris, now that I think about it, that’s probably where I learned about it. :)

#6 Comment By Chloë On February 14, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

By far the easiest tool I’ve seen (and used many times) is FLAG – [8] – I’m surprised nobody has mentioned it yet!

#7 Comment By Juli Monroe On February 15, 2013 @ 11:20 am

Chloe, Andy did mention it, and I tried it out. It doesn’t add a working Table of Contents on mobi files, so it’s not ideal for me. But it did look like a good option for people who aren’t as picky as I am.

#8 Comment By Holdt On November 5, 2013 @ 11:35 am

FLAG no longer works with ff.net, sad to say.

#9 Comment By Luna On February 24, 2014 @ 1:47 pm

Hi,
if anyone is still looking for a mobile way to access/download fanfiction.net and AO3, you should try the Codex Fanfiction Reader app. I’ve been using it so far and can only recommend it. It allows browsing and offline reading. It also offers the option to read a fic “in app”, if you’re using chrome or so to browse. (->No annoying id/url copying anymore)
Fanfiction can be saved in the internal database, and can also be exported as epub afterwards. (This feature doesn’t work on the old Kindle Fire HD, but definitely on Sony Xperia V.)
The app allows you to boomark favourite stories by “star”-ing them. Furthermore, it is possible to group, categorise and tag fics. A grabber which uses the ids is included,too. Moreover, one can synchronise stories (in a bulk and each on their own), so that you’ll never miss an update.
Personally, I like this better than having to download each fanfic via the calibre plugin etc. The downloading is instant and even works with mega crappy internet connection. As a boon Fictionpress is also accessible.
So far I didn’t have any problems with this app. It’s far superior than the “fanfiction”-app and completely free. So, if you dislike the new ff.net layout or like to read offline, this app is magic :)


Article printed from TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics: http://www.teleread.com

URL to article: http://www.teleread.com/ereaders/downloading-fanfiction-easy-fun-and-properly-formatted/

URLs in this post:

[1] Archive of Our Own: http://archiveofourown.org/

[2] Fanfiction.net: http://www.fanfiction.net/

[3] Calibre: http://calibre-ebook.com/

[4] Fanfiction Downloader: http://www.fanfictiondownloader.net/

[5] Instapaper: http://www.instapaper.com/

[6] : http://www.macosxautomation.com/lion/epub/index.html

[7] : http://www.teleread.com/net-related-tooks-from-search-engines-to-blogware/downloading-fanfic-to-e-book-formats/

[8] : https://www.flagfic.com/

Copyright © 2010 TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home. All rights reserved.