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Create Your Own E-Book with Open-Source Sigil

Kindle in the DarkMore and more of us are reading e-books on our Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and various other e-reader devices. Usually these are books we purchase from the big players in the e-book market or download from public domain collections such as Project Gutenberg.

But have you ever wanted to create your own e-book? Maybe it’s a Creative Commons book that only exists in HTML format. Or perhaps it’s a set of blog posts. Or maybe it’s a student’s dissertation. Or even your own research notes. How do you convert these into an e-book?

One answer is Sigil, a WYSIWYG open-source XML-based ePub editor.

Or, in plain English: Sigil makes making e-books a breeze.

Sigil runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux. It’s free. It looks a lot like a word processor. Simply by copying-and-pasting text from other sources or importing HTML, you can make an e-book in the open-standards ePub format. All of the major e-readers accept this format, except for the Kindle. In which case, after you’ve generated your ePub from Sigil, you can use Calibre to convert it to the Kindle-friendly MOBI format.

How well does Sigil work? After my colleague Mills Kelly wrote about Sigil (in the context of the evolving world of scholarly publishing), I tried it myself and was delighted with the results. There are other ways to create e-books, but of the several methods I had tested for turning tens of thousands of words into an iPad- or Nook-ready book, Sigil was the best.

What about you? Have you created an e-book? How did you do it? Do you have any tips for our readers on creating e-books?

Without Benefit of Experience photograph courtesy of CarbonNYC, Creative Commons Licensed

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