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I'm just getting started with my shiny new Kindle. The main purpose I have for it is to be able to conveniently read a lot of fiction freely (and legally) available on the internet.

For this purpose, I need a way to easily create very simple e-reader-friendly versions of existing, available material.

Ideally, I would like to:

  • Copy-paste material into the ebook. Assume material is text with simple formatting, e.g. at the level of bold and italic typefaces. This is mostly material I'm directly copy-pasting off web pages.
  • Mark where segments begin and end (e.g. complete stories, acts of a play, chapters of a book)

Nice bonuses would be:

  • Simple conversion to a Kindle-readable format (so I wouldn't have to go through Calibre every time)
  • Preview ability, so I can see that the created file looks roughly as I expect it to, without transferring to my Kindle or using a third program.

A major issue I've had with my attempts so far is that I haven't found an ebook format editor that I can simply copy-paste content into - plain text would work; but lose even basic formatting; html isn't copy-paste-able; the ebook-specific formats I'm less familiar with, and I assume they need their own editor; Word documents aren't easily convertible for e-readers.

Example usages would be collecting a bunch of stories from an online fiction magazine, or converting this play into an ebook file which can flip easily between acts. For personal use only, it doesn't need to be at all polished.

Clarification: I am brand new to the Kindle and to ebooks in general, so it is entirely possible I am unfamiliar with basic terms, tools and conventions.

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migrated from Oct 18 '11 at 20:10

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Sigil is the editor for ePubs. You can edit using HTML or WYSIWYG (like MS Word).

enter image description here

Apparently, ePub is/will become a format Kindle can read... so do I get a bonus? :P


  1. Download eBooks as ePub. If you can't do that, then Bulk-Convert them in Calibre to ePub.
  2. Open ePub in Sigil.
  3. Manually tweak ePub.
  4. Save ePub.
  5. Bulk-Import and Bulk-Convert ePubs to MOBI in Calibre.
  6. Transfer to Kindle.

...Not that much work?

EDIT 2: You can convert Microsoft Word Documents in Calibre. I think .DOCX is convertible.

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So, problem, Sigil can only paste as plain text. So it's something like: copy-paste into rich text editor; export to HTML; tweak in Sigil; convert Sigil's epub to mobi; load to Kindle. Whoosh! That seems like a lot. – Ziv Oct 19 '11 at 6:34
@Ziv If you can manage to 'command line' all that, not really... I guess you could create a program that'll simulate all the mouse clicks for you. On a side note, if you open your original book with Calibre, you can view the HTML in the Developer Tools, or something - just copy and paste that into Sigil. You'll need to tweak manually anyways, so there's no problem there. Kindle will support ePub in the future, so that will be fixed. In conclusion, we will have a simple process once Kindle supports ePubs. – Mateen Ulhaq Oct 20 '11 at 2:40
Actually, forget what I just said in my last comment. See my edit instead. – Mateen Ulhaq Oct 20 '11 at 2:43
re Edit 2: You can't conver .doc or .docx. See , and… . If only it were so simple :-/ Editing appropriately. – Ziv Oct 20 '11 at 17:57
I think your suggested process works - I can copy-paste into an rtf, convert to ePub for tweaking, convert to mobi for reading. "Not that much work" describes it nicely :) – Ziv Oct 20 '11 at 18:03

This is not a complete answer by any means but I believe you are looking for something like document markup. The best tool to do that job, in my experience, is LaTeX. For example, since you mentioned the Sherlock Holmes play, LaTeX supports writing plays via stage.cls or ScriptTex. You can also use LaTeX to annotate your e-book, as in mark where chapters begin and end and generate simple ToCs. You can find out more about LaTeX here and here. SE also has a very helpful LaTeX and TeX Q&A site here.

For conversion between various e-book formats I would recommend Calibre. It can convert to and from a large number of e-book formats including MOBI and PDFs.

Hopefully this answer will give you a starting point for your search.

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I'm almost sure this isn't what I'm looking for. LaTex adds structure and formatting; I want to copy-paste existing content into an ebook with minimal need for adding structure, and even then, not much. The last thing I want to do is run through the script adding tags everywhere - it's fine just the way it is. – Standback Oct 17 '11 at 22:06

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