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Seventeen Apps That Help You Make eBooks

 

Amazon may be quietly locking out its competition with ebook creation apps like the newly released Kindle Creator, but not all ebook creation apps tie you down to a single distribution channel.

Even iBooks Author can make and export Epub3 files now, and that’s not the only app authors can use to make ebooks.

Here’s a double handful of apps and online services which can make ebooks (let me know if I missed one you like).

First, here’s the free app I use:

Sigil

Sigil is not the best app on this list but when it comes to free alternatives there is simply no comparison.

I found it easy to learn with an intuitive interface that did everything I wanted, and I am still waiting for a good reason to switch to another app like:

Jutoh

Jutoh is an ebook creation tool for all platforms (including the Raspberry Pi). It can make ebooks in all the popular formats and, aloing with Scrivener, comes highly recommended (although there is a vim/emacs divide in the author community over which is better).

WordToEpub

This is a Windows app from The Daisy Consortium. If you have MS Word you can use it to make an Epub3 ebook. (I do not have word, so I can’t tell you how well it works.)

Vellum

Vellum is a macOS-only app which costs so much that I can’t come up with a good reason to buy it.

It is a rather expensive app and costs either $200 for an unlimited license or $10 to $30 for each title. That is rather pricey when compared to the free apps much less the paid alternatives like:

Scrivener

Scrivener is the one paid app everyone recommends – including those who don’t use it.

It is a complex and feature-rich app which is designed to cover all the steps in the process of creating a book rather than just the act of making an ebook. It has always been way more than what I required, but many authors swear by it.

Calibre

Calibre is known as the best ebook library tool, free or paid, but it can also make ebooks in just about any format you can name. You can even use it to edit ebooks, although you shouldn’t distribute them to other professionals.

While I use calibre to convert ebooks and manage my library, I also know that it is widely hated by many in the digital publishing industry. Calibre makes ebooks which look okay, but the code is absolutely atrocious (Calibre-made ebooks have even been banned by Amazon once or twice).

Caveat Emptor.

Calligra

Calligra is the office suite which used to be known as KOffice way back when. It was originally developed for Linux systems and has since been ported to Windows, macOS, freeBSD.

Calligra has included an ebook export option since 2012, although I am not sure very many people are using it.

eBookBurn

eBookBurn is a paid web service I have been meaning to try. It costs $19 to export an ebook in Epub and Kindle formats, but you can set up as many ebooks – or parts of an ebook – as you like.

Pressbooks

Do you know how they say that a third of the web runs on WordPress?

That includes Pressbooks. This paid service lets you upload (or type) parts of a book, edit them, and then export an ebook in Epub, PDF, or Kindle format.

Everything except for the last step is free, and you can even set your preferred formatting as CSS. what’s more, WP is designed to publish to the web, and Pressbooks takes advantage of this. You like you can upload a book and then show it off and get feedback.

O O O

When I published a list of eight apps and services you could use to make an ebook about a week back, a bunch of readers responded with suggestions for other apps they either liked to use or had developed.

I think more info is usually better, so here are six more apps and services you can use to make an ebook.

Atlantis

In this day and age almost everyone has to use MS Office, Google Docs, or Libri Office in order to stay compatible with their colleagues, so you would think that the lesser known word processing apps would simply wither away and die.

Atlantis would suggest that is a faulty conclusion. This app doesn’t get much attention but it is still popular with some authors.

Draft2Digital

This company is known for being one of the best ebook distributors, but you can also use their service to produce an Epub from your source Word file. This is strictly intended as a proof copy, but there’s nothing stopping you from using it like any other ebook.

PublishDrive

eBook distributor PublishDrive launched their ebook conversion tool in early 2019.

Papyrus

This online editor can help you make an ebook from scratch, or you can use it to assemble an ebook from blog posts and web pages.

I found Papyrus really useful when I tried it two years ago, but it won’t work for me today. For some unknown reason it is kicking me out of the ebook project I started two years ago.

Oh, well, maybe I will try this next service instead.

Bookbinder

Edit: This service no longer makes ebooks.

This online service costs $19 per title and is entirely new to me.

It offers both a simple conversion as well as an online editor you can use to format an ebook.

Libre Office

This open source office suite gained the ability to export Epubs with its 6.0 release. It could already make PDFs.

Viewporter

Viewporter is a relatively new app that makes Epub3 ebooks. I don’t know anyone who has used it, so all first-hand user reports would be appreciated.

Kotobee Author

Kotobee Author is an ebook creator and Epub editor, allowing you to add interactive content that can be opened  in any compliant Epub 3 reader. Convert your PDF to EPUB, customize the look and feel of your ebook apps, and emulate the result on different platforms and devices. It can also make web apps, and is available for Windows and macOS.

WordPerfect

In just a few clicks, save WordPerfect documents in the popular Epub ebook format for easy publishing to popular devices. Improved file format compatibility enables users to save WordPerfect files in OpenDocument Text (ODT) format, while updates to PDF functionality give control over the resolution of linked and embedded content.

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Comments


Moriah Jovan 6 April, 2017 um 10:01 pm

Atlantis Word Processor, which I’ve been recommending for several years, exports to EPUB beautifully. I don’t use it because it doesn’t fit my workflow process, but it was way ahead of the curve. http://www.atlantiswordprocessor.com/en/

BDR 7 April, 2017 um 12:17 pm

Not sure how they stay in business because you never hear about them but Atlantis has been my favorite for at least 5 years. Those who haven’t tried it, should.


Moriah Jovan 6 April, 2017 um 10:04 pm

I can’t sing Sigil’s praises enough, especially with some of the killer plugins available. I use epub3-itizer, kindle maker, epubcheck, and a okugin to automagically insert Apple’s wonky little code.


Felix 6 April, 2017 um 11:47 pm

"although you shouldn’t distribute them to other professionals"

Other professionals aren’t buying my books. Ordinary people are, and they’ll never, ever look at the source code. Who’s *your* audience?

Moriah Jovan 7 April, 2017 um 8:29 am

Occasionally, Amazon will reject books made from Calibre because they’re so bad, but I suspect that’s for a more complicated book than fiction.

Will Entrekin 8 April, 2017 um 12:13 pm

I think you have to be careful regardless, because the indie publishing revolution has ensured that some of our readers in fact *are* professionals. I manage a nano-press and have published both my own work and that of others fairly extensively, but I remain a voracious reader (as all writers tend to). And you’re probably right I don’t look at source code, but if I open a badly formatted book (extra space between paragraphs that aren’t indented, e.g.), I close it and get a refund. This is why we need to be make sure we’re doing our best with things like editing, proofreading, layout, formatting, and cover design. Being cavalier about such things is detrimental not only to one’s own brand but indie publishing-dom in general.


poiboy 7 April, 2017 um 1:12 am

there is also a good number of iOS apps to make iBooks as well as kindle ebooks like Daedalus and Creative Book Builder.

Nate Hoffelder 19 June, 2020 um 1:43 pm

I would add iOS apps except Apple makes it so damned hard to find them.


BDR 7 April, 2017 um 12:22 pm

Aside from my favorite, Atlantis, you should also add the on-line Papyrus to your list http://papyrus.yourstory.com/

Nate Hoffelder 7 April, 2017 um 1:04 pm

Those are good additions, yes!


Tom S 7 April, 2017 um 1:19 pm

I have Jutoh on my Raspberry Pi (it is free).

There’s also at least one editor for iOS: Easy ePub Creator Pro ($4.99). Does both reflow and FXL.


Fandor 7 April, 2017 um 4:46 pm

Thank’s for your text. I use viewporter http://viewporter.com/viewporter_editor/ I don’t know why not a lot of people use it. It’s very good.


Commenter 7 April, 2017 um 9:28 pm

"Calibre makes ebooks which look okay, but the code is absolutely atrocious"

Come on Nate, you know that Calibre (the converter) and Calibre’s "Edit Book" are separate things.*

Calibre’s editor is functionally equivalent to Sigil. Anything that can be done in Sigil can be done in Calibre’s editor and vice versa.

Yes, Calibre can convert from Format X (DOCX/ODT/…) to Format Y (EPUB/AZW/KF8) and sometimes create some hideous code, but that is a separate issue.**

—–

* You can reach Calibre’s editor by right clicking a book in Calibre and pressing "Edit book".

** And highly dependent on how clean your input is. If you have a properly styled DOCX in, you will get a clean EPUB out. If you pushed every single button in Microsoft Word and never used styles, you may get hideous code.

"(Calibre-made ebooks have even been banned by Amazon once or twice)."

The only Amazon-approved way to submit books to Amazon is by using Amazon’s KindlePreviewer or Kindlegen.

Converting to those formats using Calibre should only be for personal usage, or non-commercial usage (like if you were uploading public domain books to share on MobileRead).

Want to sell on Amazon though? Better use their official tools.


Will Entrekin 8 April, 2017 um 12:21 pm

There’s one simple reason to buy Vellum; of the apps you mentioned, it’s the best. The cost of access is high, given, as you note, that it’s not only $200 but also Mac-only, but honestly, having used nearly every app you mentioned (first I’ve heard of Calligrapha), Vellum is perfect at what it does.

And having just tried Kindle Create, the latter is basically a cross-platform, Kindle-only version of Vellum.

I’ve reviewed both on Exciting Press. Here’s for Vellum:

http://exciting.press/hot/vellum-best-thing-happen-authors-since-kindle/


?????Kindle Create????????? | ??????????? 11 April, 2017 um 11:58 pm

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Paul 12 April, 2017 um 4:29 pm

Bookbinder is a new, web-based formatting tool I’ve been working on. It offers lots of features that are missing in other apps (tables, internal link, custom fonts) and it’s really easy to use.

Check it out:
https://bookbinder.co


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Sharon Reamer 4 February, 2018 um 6:23 am

Nate – the link for Bookbinder now goes to a page that only has Word and Excel templates. Has it already gone out of the ebook business?

Nate Hoffelder 4 February, 2018 um 9:04 am

Possibly – I will double check and update the link.

Thanks!


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