Converting to Palm eBooks

This page contains some pointers and help for converting documents in other formats into something usable by Palm DropBook.

Gutenberg and other Text documents

The Gutenberg texts at http://www.gutenberg.net/ are mostly plain ASCII. However, they include returns at the end of each line, capitalization to represent italics, underscores to represent underlined text, hyphenated words broken between lines, and other conventions that make conversion to PML interesting.

The following is a general guideline for converting Gutenberg texts to PML.

  • Remove hyphens at the ends of lines (words broken between lines shouldn't be), but not on lines that end with two hyphens ("--").
  • Remove line endings except between paragraphs. Some programs may have a specific command to do this. Otherwise, this can be done with a text editor by
    1. Replacing sequences of two line endings with a character that won't appear in the text
    2. Replacing line endings with a space
    3. Replacing the character used in step 1 with two line endings
  • Replace sequences of two spaces with a single space.
  • Spell check!
  • Replace backquotes ("`") with a single quote ("'").
  • Replace "' with "\a160'. A double quote followed by a single quote looks like three single quotes in the small font, so a space should be placed between them. The \a160 is a non-breaking space character; you don't want to allow a line to break between two quotes.
  • Replace '" with '\a160" for the same reason.
  • Replace sequences of periods which are intended to represent an ellipsis with \a133, the ellipsis character code.
  • Keep your eyes open for sequences such as I-95 that should use a non-breaking dash, \a173.
  • Make sure the quotes "work". A programming editor such as CodeWarrior will syntax hilite strings, so you can scroll through the file and easily pick out mismatched quotes.
  • Convert words in all capitals to italics using the \i tag where appropriate.
  • Convert words with leading and trailing underscores to underline using the \u tag.
  • Add title pages and chapter tags.
  • Build the book using MakeBook.
  • Proofread. Scanning a book (as was done to generate the Gutenberg texts) produces errors that are not necessarily picked up by spell checkers. The word "close" is sometimes scanned as "dose", for example. Initial words of chapters are often in an unusual font that cause them to be omitted from the scanned text.
  • Proofread. Compare against a printed version of the text when possible.
  • Proofread!