THE E-READER LANDSCAPE: PART II_CONVERTING HARD COPY TO EDOC FORMAT
Plan Set In Motion
In my previous blog, The E-Reader Landscape: Part I_Converting Hard Copy To Edoc Format, I discussed how I wanted to convert a classic novel into my own format for reading it on my iPad. That novel, The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, was available online through a website called Project Gutenberg. Their volunteer contributors had Transcripted pages of the original hard copy book, including all the inclusive pictures as well as a photo of the original book cover, and transferred them to an online format for reading on a computer or mobile electronic device.
To enhance the experience for the reader, they also included a copy of the original first-chapter page for effect, even though the actual words embedded in the picture of that page were included in the online transcription of all the text in the novel. That type of compilation makes you feel like you are opening the original publication presented by the author, Mark Twain.
When I reviewed the same transcription from another website, Planet Book, all the words were there in an easier to read format, but none of the artwork, pictures of the book cover, or time worn copies of inclusive documentation. Bummer!
Gutenberg To The Rescue
When I downloaded said online transcription from Project Gutenberg, I found that the PDF version had visual issues that I wanted to fix so that I could read the entire novel comfortably. Those issues were:
- The single spaced type was too close together.
- The entire first word in each chapter was capitalized (Yuck!).
- Each Chapter Title was in an awkward position in relation to the picture of original first page in the novel.
- The font was too small for a mobile device application and each paragraph ran past the borders of said device when the text was enlarged up to a comfortable reading size.
- The placement of artwork wasted too much space when placed between text on a page.
So, before I downloaded each novel in PDF format to be copied onto my iBooks library, I wanted to make significant changes to both The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, and the companion publication, The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. These changes would include fixes to the aforementioned issues stated above.
Discovering The Auto Conversion Time Saving Feature
After suffering through trial and error attempts reiterated to in Part I of this series, I accessed the file folder that contained my original downloads and opened each novel into my MS WORD program under the auspices of the new Windows 10 format. As soon as I did that, the default parameters in MS WORD automatically converted the un-editable PDF version I downloaded into an editable MS WORD document. Perfect!
Next, I went to my Styles Sets in my ‘Home Tab’ in MS WORD and picked a style that I liked. Then I clicked on the bottom arrows to create a drop down box that included the Page Title Style form and the Paragraph (Normal) Style form. I modified both to suit me and had them ready to transform the body text and chapter title of each download.
One of my main goals was to move the computerized version of the MS WORD document onto the MS WORD App installed on my iPad because the App version includes a dedicated icon that automatically converts the regular print view into a user-friendly mobile electronic device format. When activated, the small text can be expanded up to a larger size on the mobile device, and all the paragraphs are automatically rearranged to fit within the visible parameters of your cell phone, tablet device, or e-reader.
First Problem Addressed
The first thing I noticed was that the copy of the first page of the original novel took up the entire first page of my MS WORD document. To solve that problem, I did 2 things:
- I highlighted the first page picture and moved it to the left of my document page by clicking on the Align Left icon located in the Paragraph Block of the Home Tab my MS WORD program.
- I then moved the cursor to the lower right hand corner of the still highlighted picture and scooted the picture button up to the left to reduce the size of it by 30%.
This maneuver gave me room on my page to include an Enlarged Sized (bolded) Chapter Title underneath said picture, and still leave a decent amount of space to insert all of the First Paragraph Dialogue on my redesigned First Chapter Page.
Second Item Taken Care Of
Since the first word in the first paragraph of each original chapter was set forth in All Caps, I didn’t like that feature then took the following steps:
- I changed the the case of the word to show the first letter capitalized and the remainder in lower case. After that, I highlighted that capital letter to prepare it for the next step.
- Then I clicked on the Insert Tab next to the Home Tab on MS WORD and went to the Text Block and clicked on the Drop Cap arrow. This revealed a drop down tool box which included the feature.
- With the Drop Cap Options dialogue box open, I had 4 option to choose from:
- Dropped, which I chose
- Font, which I left alone
- Lines to Drop, so I entered the number “2”
- Distance from Text, which I left at “0”
When all the selections were made, I clicked the OK button and the highlighted capital letter transformed into a prominent Drop Cap Letter. Phew!
Now I had a popular text modification feature installed on my redesigned Chapter Page that replicates the same feature on transcriptions done by website platforms like a Planet Book. I use this feature in all of my novels and love it. Especially since the MS WORD default programming does all the auto sizing and spacing for you. Excellent!
The Trickiest Issue I Faced
The font size in the body text was already number 12 in the Times New Roman style (Most popular choice in all fiction book publications). I left it alone for now, but was happy to find out that it was already formatted in the Normal Paragraph Mode in the original download. This meant that any modifications I made to the Normal Paragraph Style Set automatically transformed all the paragraph text in the entire document to match the directives I set forth. This would save me enormous amounts of time-consuming modifications as I moved forward.
So, when I modified the Normal Paragraph Style Instruction Box to transform the text from single space to double space, the entire novel instantly incorporated the new format with no further efforts on my part.
As for the font size itself, a problem surfaced when I found out that I was unable to get the mobile device App version of WORD to accept my computer version, or to get the newly redesigned IOS OFFICE App to do the same. The transfer kept freezing up or went into an endless loop of conversion. To solve that problem for the time being, I changed the font size to #18 in the paragraph text style sheet(s). This allowed me to use the normal method of expanding text on the iPad to bring the dialogue up to an acceptable size for reading and still keep within the borders of the device.
Dealing With The Pictures
Any artwork or copies of original documentation placed on pages that also contained text created a whole new problem, especially with the MS WORD processing software. Many of the pictures were automatically bumped to a following page when the text forced them to be handled as such by the standard default settings embedded in the software.
This left the previous page with only half of the available space filled with text. The rest of the page was left blank, a situation, of course, that I found totally unacceptable. So, I had to manually fix each occurrence which was a laborious undertaking. Still, I did the following:
- I would guesstimate the amount of text lines that would fit into the available open area of each page vacated by the picture.
- I then cut that amount of text from the paragraph(s) that followed the picture, and repositioned them after the text on the partially blank page ahead of the picture.
- Then I sized or re-positioned each picture to finish the process or add some flair to the overall appearance. Originally centered pics were often placed left or right to create an interesting twist to the transcription.
The PDF/A Miracle
One of the mistakes I made in transferring documents from one form to another, or to another device, or even email, was sending an editable document. This is a disaster on electronic devices like my iPhone or iPad. When I go to read the document, the keyboard keeps popping up in a decidedly frustrating scenario to interfere with my view, amidst other problems.
When I went to present my first novel to Kindle Publishing, my manuscript was rejected for various reasons. For one, I did not send it in the correct format, or at least I did not do so for the eBook version.
After pursuing the cause of my misfortune, I discovered a marvelous feature of the new MS WORD software. I could export my documents through a selective format that handled all coding, transparencies, fonts, etc. in such a way that my editable document would be reformatted for acceptance by the receiving platform with everything in tact and eliminate conflicts that might cause interference. It’s called the PDF/A compliant document algorithm.
It goes out as a MS WORD document but gets automatically transformed into an un-editable PDF document with all the necessary attributes that allow the reception device or medium to see exactly what you sent with out conflicting issues and baggage to go along for the ride. And most current online platforms recognize the standard for easy transmittal. The first time I submitted my PDF/A compliant document (i.e. manuscript) to Kindle, it was accepted. Oh Happy Day!
My Final Chore
I then tried to send my final document via Yahoo email and was informed that it (over 25 mb) was too large, but that their increased capacity for sending large documents was coming soon. When I shifted gears and tried to send it via Gmail, I was again told it was too large.
However, a Google pop up let me know it could solve the problem by downloading the Google.Docs platform to my laptop and then use the capabilities of that software to reformat the document sitting in my Gmail outbox so that it could be sent.
Once I completed the download, the activated procedure worked to perfection. So I tried to send the document from my Gmail folder to the Apple default email address (which is setup with Yahoo as the email preference of choice) and it went through with no issues. The reason I chose this maneuver was the fact that I can transfer downloads to my iBooks storage area through the Apple Safari search engine or the Apple email app (Yahoo), but not through Google Chrome,(or Gmail) which is my search engine of choice because of the folder and suggestion features provided.
When this was done, I forwarded the document to my iBook’s App which automatically creates its own PDF conversion and readable eBook when done. I then was able to read the entire novel of The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, as well as peruse all the pictures therein, within the timeframe of two days with ease using my iPad after completing this creative effort.
I then dissected The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn after completing all the same procedures, but it took longer as I try to decipher all the strange lingo that filled the pages inside. On top of all that, I had hard copy paperback versions of each novel delivered to me for additions to my home library shelves to back me up. I’m in like flint!
NOTE: As for my third reading choice, The Great Gatsby, I did it attack next. Fortunately, it was already made available in an acceptable electronic device format version courtesy of the Planet Book website. In a thorough review of my paperback copy, I found that it contained no pictures, and my online research shows no evidence of them presented in the original version. I had to choose that route because, for some strange reason, the Gutenberg Project has other completed books written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but not his celebrated The Great Gatsby novel. Hmm!
I am requesting that my readers click on the links provided and download a sample read of each book and give a review on Amazon. You will have free access to the first four chapters of each book. My hope is that you will like the story lines enough to obtain either an eBook version or a paperback copy that you can put on your bookshelf as a masterpiece when you are done. FATE STALKS A HERO I: RESURGENCE, FATE STALKS A HERO II:THE FIJI FULCRUM, and THE SAGA OF HERACLES PENOIT. I will be giving excerpts on these works in upcoming blogs to familiarize you the reader with exciting details about the contents of each one. Thank you!