Huge Project: Calibre and Bookfusion Git It Done!
#1  McJohn 09-23-2019, 09:35 PM
Hello, everyone! Longtime lurker, first-time poster. Apologies in advance for the giddiness.

Got two vintage Sony PRS-505s (still the best, and I've done a lot of looking) and have been relying on the sublime Calibre to keep 'em fed and happy for, like, years.

A decade ago, some buddies and I on a sadly now-defunct FanFic board did an epic story that took three years to wind up. Many of the characters were based on people on the board, and the rowdy crew's suggestions for plots and twists (chiefly, killing off recalcitrant villains based on their bosses) went into the stew. As all things must, the board closed down, and we managed to snag all the Web pages that recorded the rollicking literary journey.

Everyone missed the board and the story, and I thought it might be nice to convert it to something that didn't require opening 90 Web pages one after the other. It took me ten years to try to figure out a way to transfer the content from the Web pages into one massive Word document, with the goal of converting it to an ePub with my trusty friend Calibre. (It wouldn't have taken so long except I had to wait for Microsoft to release Word 2011 for the Mac, which was the only word processor that would handle the gigantic job without barfing all over my desktop.)

The Word file features lots of full-color illustrations, anything from emoji to animated GIFs to JPEGS to colored text to I dunno what all. Calibre converted all of it to an ePub, and then to an AZW3, then to a PDF, and then, while it was on a roll, to a MOBI. Honestly, the only thing it tripped over was an illustration that I placed directly after a custom cover, so I just took that out and went on finding new formats to convert to. Calibre didn't so much as breathe hard; the resulting ePub is about 11.3MB, and comes to roughly 1,800 to 2,000 pages, depending on how big I make the window.

The PRS-505s handle the file with aplomb, but there are some compromises: no color and no animation. That's OK by me--I spent so long converting this thing that I'm sick and tired of the text by now--but the goal was to make it available to the other readers who hadn't seen it in ten years. I've mailed out some thumb drives, and wanted to know how it would look on various readers. A Kindle, I figure, will show it pretty much the way it looks on the PRS-505s, so that's covered, but what about... an iPad?

Boy, did I get an eyeful researching that one! iTunes and iBooks ignored the very notion of non-purchased content. Off to Mobileread: Stanza dead, Marvin odd, Calibre Companion apparently chose last week to wipe out everyone's libraries, everything else requires an ability to use a command-line interface that I don't trust myself not to mess right on up. Bookfusion it is!

You guys. You guys. I'm not a complete novice when it comes to installing and using software, but I'm extremely twitchy about getting my electronics into something I can't extricate them from gracefully. Installing the plugin gave me some anxious moments, but really, it was only because I had no idea what was going to happen.

Some puttery chug-chugging here and there from Bookfusion, and I have the single most beautiful ebook it's ever been my pleasure to behold. The animated GIFs, my standard of ebook display, are in there large as life and twice't as natcherl. The font is gorgeous. The little animation to turn the pages makes me smile. It looks like a real book. To see something I helped type (and spent months pasting emoji into) look like it came out of Simon & Schuster's prestige imprint... wow.

Some of the people who participated in the original project a decade agone are no longer with us, and the ones who are getting the thumb drives are trending toward fragile health. One in particular, a 90-something former Air Force officer with age-related macular degeneration, pretty much had little hope of being able to revisit the story. Until now.

Thank you, Calibre and Bookfusion developers. This is astonishing. I cannot tell you just how much this will mean to some folks you ain't never gonna meet. I appreciate your talent, your expertise, and your dedication. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

#2  kovidgoyal 09-24-2019, 02:46 AM
You are most welcome

#3  Gibbo 09-24-2019, 04:54 AM
Do you plan on releasing it?

#4  McJohn 09-24-2019, 11:27 PM
Good evening, all! Mr. Goyal, thank you for your reply. I'm sure you hear similar stories roughly three times a week, but the years of easy, fulfilling e-reading you have afforded me, with my little pack of Sonys past and present, is doubtless multiplied by millions of other clients. Readers aren't known for swimming in money, but between the Sonys, Calibre, and Project Gutenberg, I've been able to build a delightful, rich library of authors and works I'd never otherwise have encountered. In this, I am far more fortunate than Dickens or Shakespeare.

Gibbo, we weren't planning to release the story any more widely than to the small group of site veterans who were involved in its creation; it's fanfiction, for one thing, which means it's not commercially viable (unless you happen to be, like, married to a TV producer). For another, while this was a romp for the gang who put it together, we're kind of thinking that there are quite a few in-jokes it wouldn't be fair to unleash on a broader audience. That we could actually e-publish a meandering epic thrown together by an international pack of clowns goofing around on an Internet board is miracle enough for us!

#5  kacir 09-25-2019, 08:14 AM
Quote McJohn
Gibbo, we weren't planning to release the story any more widely than to the small group of site veterans who were involved in its creation; ...
It is a shame, because, looking at your posts, I would like to read more stuff that you wrote ;-)

#6  McJohn 09-25-2019, 11:29 PM
Thank you, Kacir! I'll see what I can do. (And this would definitely be the place for it!)

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