ePub v. MOBI – making documents accessible to smartphones

epub v. mobi

Image by Guiding Tech {link to http://www.guidingtech.com/9661/difference-between-epub-mobi-azw-pdf-ebook-formats/}

My internship project at Center for Technology in Government this summer was to research on ways to make CTG publications more accessible for a wide range of devices. With changing reading habits, nowadays people tend to read more on smaller devices such as eBook readers, iPads and cell phones. Currently CTG publications are in the form of PDF and HTML on the CTG website. However, these formats are not accessible for smaller devices. The focus was to convert the publications into eBook format so that readers would have the option of reading using small devices as well as PCs. While converting the publications into an eBook, choosing an eBook format that was compatible with most devices was a crucial part of the project.

After some research, I found that the best options were the ePub format and the MOBI format. ePub is an open form and is based on XHTML and XML, and is popular due to its re-flowability; the text readjusts based on the screen size, therefore it is ideal for small screen devices. However, ePub is not compatible with Kindle devices, as Kindle only works with Amazon’s MOBI format. In order for any format to be readable on the Kindle, it had to be converted to the MOBI format.

Calibre E-book manager is an open source eBook conversion software. Using Calibre, I was able to convert the HTML publications into both ePub and MOBI formats. When we tested the e-books using different readers and devices they worked well with different screen sizes. Calibre also generates a table of contents from the original HTML documents.

Another area of my research was finding a good option for hosting the publications. We wanted to publish the e-books for free; however, most eBook stores such as Amazon require a minimum selling price and only allow writers to publish free books for a limited promotional period. As a result, we decided to try storing our eBooks using Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS allows storage, access and download of files for a minimal monthly fee. Once you upload a file and make it public, it gives you a link to access and download the file. The link can them be provided on the website as a download link.

While converting the files I was introduced to and gained a basic understanding of HTML, XML, XQuery and XSL style sheets. CTG publications source are written in XML, but since Calibre does not take XML input, with the help of my supervisor we converted them to HTML.

Interning at CTG this summer provided me with a great experience working in a professional environment. It also helped me gain knowledge in the areas of web publication and markup languages, namely XML and HTML, which will be very useful for my future academic and professional career. This job in particular let me see the ways new and smaller devices are changing the ways the government does things.

Meley Sennay Kifleyesus

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2 thoughts on “ePub v. MOBI – making documents accessible to smartphones

  1. Pingback: Ebook Stuff | Green Embers

  2. Congratulation Melley with impressive scientic work
    I ‘ m a Norwegian MD who knew your parents in Sahel in the 1980’s – they must be proud of you – and I know they have been proud!
    Warm regards Birgit Lie

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