Google Docs Gains Epub as an Export Option, But You Should Stick With the Other More Useful Options (PDF!)
EPUB is the most widely supported file format for publishing accessible documents and digital books, allowing people to consume long-form content in their preferred apps on a diverse range of screen sizes and devices, including smartphones, tablets, and eReaders. To make it easier for authors, publishers, and academic institutions to create works that can be consumed digitally, today we’re launching the ability to export Google Docs files as EPUB publications.
Leaving aside that Epub is not all that widely supported, this export option is more hype than substance.
Tidbits took a careful look at the Epub output and they found that it could not make a usable to save its life. I can report that I got a couple Epub files that had been converted to all italics (plus a bunch of mostly usable Epubs – if you don’t mind the lack of metadata, TOC, etc), but Tidbits says that nothing worked.
They tried a dissertation, and the text was clipped at the right edge of most lines. Then they tried the text of one of their blog posts, and got an Epub where the images bled into the margins.
Even a basic ebook didn’t fare well:
Maybe simple documents without graphics can make it through Google Docs’ EPUB-exporting mill. To test that, I tried a page of a novel I wrote recently, a book that contains no images and precious little special formatting. Even something this simple broke when the exporter encountered italic text, adding an extraneous space after each italic.
Here’s what Tidbits posted as proof:
One could argue that they were trying too hard, but I think that one can’t know a service’s limitations without stress-testing, and so far as I know Tidbits is the only blog to push this export option to its limits.
Have you tried it? Did it work well?
If it didn’t you might want to consider using an alternative format like the nearly-universally supported PDF format. Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets all let you export a PDF file, and since we know it can be read virtually everywhere it’s clearly the better choice than Epub.
Then again, why would you want to export a file? Why not just share it online?
image by Lindy Buckley