The E-Reader Landscape Part II: Converting Hard Copy To Edoc Format

First Steps

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 readability issues that I wanted to fix so that I could read the entire novel comfortably: Those issues were:

  • Single spaced type was too close together
  • Entire first word in each chapter was capitalized (Yuck!)
  • Chapter title was in an awkward position in relation to picture of original first page in the novel
  • Type was too small and had to be expanded for mobile device reading and I ran the type past the borders of said devices when I enlarged it to my comfort level
  • Placement of pictures wasted too much space between text

So, before I could download each novel as a permanent PDF copy to my iBooks storage platform, I wanted to make 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.

Discovering The Auto Conversion Miracle

After trial and error attempts reiterated to in Part I of this series, I finally went to the file folder that contained my original downloads and opened each novel in my MS WORD platform (Windows 10), and the default parameters in MS WORD automatically converted the un-editable PDF version I downloaded into an editable MS WORD document. Perfect!

Then I went to my Styles Sets in my ‘Home’ tab in MS WORD and picked a style that I liked and clicked on the bottom arrows to create a drop down box that would include the Page Title style form and the Paragraph (Normal) Style form. I modified both style forms to suit me and had them ready to transform the body text and chapter title.

One of my main goals was to move the computer version of MS WORD onto the related IOS app for my iPad because said version includes a dedicated icon that automatically converts the regular print view into a user-friendly mobile electronic device format. When small text is expanded to a larger size on the mobile device, all text stays within the visible parameters of your cell phone, tablet device, or e-reader.

First Issue

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. So I clicked on it and did 2 things:

  1. I moved it to the left by clicking on the left-hand text icon located in my MS WORD home tab.
  2. I then moved the cursor to the lower right hand corner of picture and scooted the picture button up to reduce the size of said picture by 30%.

This gave me room to include an enlarged sized (bolded) chapter title underneath and a decent amount of first and/or second paragraph dialogue on the first chapter page.

Second Issue

Since the first word in the first paragraph of each chapter was set forth in All Caps, I then took the following steps:

  1. I changed the the word to show first-letter capitalized only
  2. The I clicked on the Insert Tab on MS WORD and went to the Insert Drop Cap section and clicked on the custom feature and chose the #2 size for my first letter of the first word in each chapter’s first paragraph. Phew!

Now I had a popular text modification to start each chapter that is very prevalent in 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!

Trickiest Issue

The font size in the body text was already number 12 in Times New Roman (Most popular font style 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 set forth. This would save me enormous amounts of time-consuming modifications later on.

Anyways, when I modified the Normal Paragraph style instruction box to transform the text from single space to double space, the entire novel instantly went to the new format with no further efforts on my part.

The problem with the font size surfaced when I was unable to get the iPad version of WORD (App) 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. So, for now, I finally decided to change the font size to #18 in the paragraph text style sheet. This allowed my 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

Pictures on the same pages that contain text create a whole new problem, especially with MS WORD processing software. I had pictures bumped to a following page when the text forced them to be handled as such by the standard default settings.

This left the previous page with only have the available space filled with text. The rest of the page was left blank. This situation, of course, was totally unacceptable. So, I had to manually fix each occurrence. And this was laborious. Still, I did the following:

  1. I would ascertain the amount of text lines that would fit into the available open area of each page vacated by the picture.
  2. I then cut that amount of text from the paragraph(s) that followed the picture, and re-positioned them after the text on the partially blank page ahead of the picture.
  3. 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. I did not send it in the correct format, at least I did not do so for the ebook version.

What I discovered was the miracle of exporting a MS WORD document such that all coding, transparencies, fonts, and such would be reformatted for acceptance by the receiving platform and which would get it it with everything in tact and no conflicts to cause interference. It’s called the PDF/A compliant document.

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. Oh Happy Day!

The End Result

I then tried to send my final document via Yahoo email and was informed that my document (over 25 mb) was too large, but that increased capacity was coming soon. Then I tried to send it via gmail, and again was told it was too large. However, google automatically solved the problem by downloading the Google.Docs platform to my laptop and then used it to reformat my document sitting in my gmail outbox to handle the overage and complete the transmission.

This procedure worked to perfection. So I tried to send the document to the Apple default email address (which I defaulted to 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 PDF and other documents 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 favorite search engine because of the folders and search suggestions features.

When this was done, I was able to read the entire novel of The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, as well as peruse all the pictures therein, in two days with ease using my iPad after completing this creative effort. I am currently dissecting The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, but it will take longer as I try to decipher all the strange dialectic lingo. And I had hard copy paperback versions of each novel delivered to me for addition to my physical home library to back me up. I’m in like flint!

NOTE: My third reading choice, The Great Gatsby, which I will attack next, is available in an acceptable electronic device format version courtesy of the Planet Book website. My paperback copy contains no pictures and my online research shows no evidence of pictures 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!

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