Desktop tools for self publishing

DIY Ebook Publishing

© Lead Image © Askhat Gromov,

© Lead Image © Askhat Gromov,

Article from Issue 209/2018

LibreOffice, Calibre, and Sigil help would-be authors with do-it-yourself ebook publishing.

Self-publishing is not usually considered part of the Maker movement. Yet the two have in common a do-it-yourself approach and increasing popularity. Although the word processor was a major advance over the typewriter, until recently, the gap between home publications and professional ones loomed large. In the last few years, however, thanks to advances in free software such as the HarfBuzz font renderer [1] and the widespread availability of export filters, the differences between amateur and professional publications has all but disappeared.

The change is particularly noticeable in ebook publication. In 2016, almost 150,000 ebooks were published in the United States alone [2], and that number has almost certainly continued to rise in the last two years. Today, instead of working with exorbitantly priced online services, would-be authors can prepare their works for Internet download using such desktop tools as LibreOffice, Calibre, and Sigil.

The major ebook formats are PDF, EPUB [3], and MOBI [4]. Each is available in several different versions. PDF is a legacy format, having been in use long before the rise of ebooks. Being a close relative to the PostScript printing language, PDF is ideal for exporting complex formatting, but it has the disadvantage of having fixed font sizes that cannot be changed in many e-readers and software browsers.


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