eBook Editing

There are a wide variety of eBooks that are publicly available on the web- unfortunately many of them have crap formatting (or misspellings, rantogetherwords or missing punctuation).  Recently I discovered Sigil, a freeware EPUB editor.

It appears that an EPUB is a file container that can house xml documents, images and other items I have not explored (fonts, cascading style sheets, etc.). 

Using Sigil and an EPUB that have a title cover, the cover.jpeg (note it is usually jpeg, not jpg) can be readily be replaced with an updated version.

Sigil allows table of contents to be generated from the header markup data (h1, h2, h3, etc.); this is very useful for removing extra blank pages and regenerating a full table of contents.

Further searching found I can insert images into any xml document.  So- just for example- if I had a copy of one of the Wheel of Time books and I felt like adding in the chapter icons, I could download the icons, resize them to a consistent size that would fit on an eReader (100x100 or 100x200, depending on the original size) and then insert and verify the proper icons for each chapter.

After the formatting is completed and saved as an EPUB, I can re-open it in Calibe, verify the formatting looks good and convert it to a kindle format (MOBI or AZW) to read on my Kindle screen.


Android eBook Stuff

If you like to manage your eBook library and use it across multiple devices, download and install Calibre on your PC or Mac. 

Calibre is an app that can search for missing metadata/book covers, convert between different non-DRM formats (MOBI, EPUP, AZW, etc,) and sync with a wide range of devices (Android, Kindle, iTunes to name a few popular ones).

The Android market has a wide spectrum of eBook/Comic readers that all have inherit features and limitations.  One requirement I have for any eBooks reader is the ability to side-load media- that is the ability to add eBooks from another market/source outside of the associated eBook market (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc).  Some apps allow this readily but some make this task difficult/impossible as they want to tie you into purchasing only from their market.

A few readers that I find myself using on Android are:

Moon+ Reader

This is currently my favorite as it allows browsing the SD card for eBooks (i.e. no need to import or put in a specific folder), it supports EPUB, MOBI, CHM and HTML eBook formats (plus others) as well as CBR & CBZ Comic Book formats.

The free version has advertisements. The $5 pro version removes the ads and adds PDF support, text-to-speech and other tweaks.

Aldiko Book Reader

This is a no-frills eBook reader that supports EPUB and PDF files. It is fairly user friendly save for eBooks need to be imported into the Aldiko library into /sdcard/ebooks. The importing makes a copy of the original file and may end up with duplicates (i.e. in both /Books and /eBooks).

A premium version costs $2.99 and removes ads, adds the ability to add nodes and highlights and receives updates before the free version. Additional free and paid plugins allow for eBook sync via Dropbox.


This connects to Amazon’s market to download any books purchased from Amazon.  Sadly, the Amazon app does not allow direct importing of 3rd party EPUB/MOBI files.  It does creates a /sdcard/kindle folder where you can drop converted AZW/AZW2/AZW3(/MOBI?) format eBooks (converted by Calibre) that will also be added to your library.

Note: if you are on a PC and running Android v3 (ICS) or later, the /kindle folder is not presented over the MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) USB connection.  Earlier versions of android support MSC (Mass Storage Controller) USB settings and will let you directly access the folder.  If you are on ICS or later, you can use an Android file explorer such as Astro to move files from the /sdcard/Book folder to the /sdcard/kindle folder.

If you are using a Mac OS system, you will need the Android File Transfer utility to access an ICS or newer device.


The Nook reader is the Barnes & Noble storefront ebook solution.  It also allows for reading of EPUB books added to the /sdcard/Nook folder.


Kobo reader ties into the Kobo store (go figure!) and allows for importing of EPUB books from the SD card.  As of yet, I have not figured out exactly where it stores the books it imports…

Google Play Books

This is the most useless of all the eBook readers.  It is included by default on all newer tablets and it allows you to read any books purchased from the Google Play store. i.e. if you have an EPUB/MOBI/PDF that you want to access, you need to use another program.

There are a plethora of other readers but these are the ones that I have tried and sometimes still use.  :)


xMas Rebuild

Plans for my xMas weekend:  Rebuild my desktop to remove the abomination that is Windows 8.  

I have tried to live with Windows 8 for over a month- and it feels like attempting to work on a car while wearing kitchen mittens.  I understand Microsoft is trying to unify their interfaces across the different platforms (phone, tablet, desktop) but there should be differences as they are designed for different tasks: phones are for communication  tablets are for media consumption and desktops are for creating/composing/organizing.  Tiles do not work well for the later use.

Windows 8 may be good for a new computer user, but has a 'forget & relearn' curve that doesn't seem necessary for an interface that has been tweaked and revised for 12+ years.  Throwing most of the interface basis away for a new flavor while not allowing for backwards usability is a bit fool-hardy.  I also see this could likely cause a rift between corporate and home user OS versions (which Microsoft has been trying to unify since Windows 2000).

It feels like Microsoft is rushing to have everyone embrace their app store as they see Apple and Google making a decent profit.  :(

Several annoying issues that I encountered with Windows 7 are still present with Windows 8.  My favorite is Windows Explorer going AWOL for 30-60 seconds while it determines the contents of a folder (with an i7-2600k CPU, 32GB RAM and searching an OCZ Agility 3 SSD).

BOSD crashes (mostly from iTunes) have been more frequent in the past month of testing Windows 8 than I remember having cumulatively in my entire Windows 7 experience- It feels more like it was in the days of Windows 2000 where things would BSOD for no obvious reason.

Something is different with SMB shares on Windows 8- or the Windows 8 firewall behaves differently than earlier versions.  The network browser on a PCH-A110 cannot find a folder share on my Windows 8 PC.  The same share is accessible to a PCH-C200 and all Mac/Windows PC systems (and the PCH-A110 can see access other SMB shares on the network).

The Windows 7/8 upgrade has the feel of the XP/Vista upgrade (note: I liked Vista- with the proper hardware) issues all over again; while not as steep as Vista, it still has a long way to go to be usable. Mayhaps they will work out the issues and tweak the interface when Windows 9 rolls out.


Audiobook Player Notes

Audible for Android or iOS

  • Audible Player on Android is listenable at 3x; in iOS- not-so-much (it should like crap on iOS)
  • Audible Player on android shows a book as one item in the library with chapters; on iOS it breaks it down into downloaded parts, each with its own chapters and showing only playtime for the current chapter.  Audible really needs to update their app on iOS to make it more consistent when moving between platforms.
    • Ex: The Fires of Heaven – Wheel of Time Book 5
    • on Android: 
      29 chapters; 36:27:37 total playing time
    • on iOS:
      Part 1, 7 chapters, shows playtime per chapter. 
      Part 2, 8 chapters, shows playtime per chapter.
      Part 3, 8 chapters, shows playtime per chapter.
      Part 4, 8 chapters, shows playtime per chapter.
      Part 5, 6 chapters, shows playtime per chapter.
  • Audible does sync listening locations- which is nice when switching between devices.

Akimbo Audiobook Player for Android

  • Akimbo Audiobook Player for Android will play Apple Audiobook format (m4b), but cannot play at greater than 1x due to Apple licensing restraints.  It can play back mp3 audiobooks at different speeds up to 4x (but this doesn’t always work- dependent on device, media. etc.).

MortPlayer  Audiobooks  for Android

  • The MortPlayer Audiobooks is a great player with a nice interface, but does not have support for the Apple m4b format.  I am also unable to find a way to change playback speed.  The absence of these two features makes it useless for my needs.