It's on the web, but I want it in my pocket. Sort of as a book.
October 12, 2010 7:02 AM   Subscribe

What's the best / easiest way to process / format material I've downloaded or copied from the web to read on Apple's Books app? On a Kindle? If I format for the Kindle, would the material be synced on both devices if I use the Kindle iPhone app as my reader? I've been using Calibre to rip ePubs, but there has to be an easier way than what I'm doing, which takes forever.

I have an iPhone 4. I am considering getting a Kindle. There is a lot of content I want to read (public domain, blogs, how-to stuff, friends' stories) that is not on Gutenberg. I want to render that material in some format that I can read on my commute; I realize that iPhone reads ePub, but the Kindle does not--so I may end up having to encode two different files.

What is the best way to get an HTML-formatted webpage to look right? Assume basic formatting--italics, special characters, nested paragraphs--but no tables or graphics.

So far, what I've been doing has been to 1) grab the html source code for the stories I've been reading and then 2) waste a couple hours stripping out the tags and web characters, and reformatting the entire thing in Word, then 3) print to a PDF, then 4) having Calibre make an ePub from the PDF (it does not like my .docx files). This seems like madness. It takes forever for a novella-length story.

What's the best way of getting formatted text into a clean file for reading on a mobile device? I suppose I could print to PDF from Safari, but I want as clean a file as possible--I don't want graphics and footers with "page 1 of 75" as part of the text I read on my phone (I realized this morning that the Word file I used to make this morning's read had footers with the file name which appear in the middle of paragraphs in the ePub file). It should just be text, as if I purchased a commercial title.

Bonus question--if I were to encode for the Kindle app on the iPhone and also have a Kindle, would it sync my own files between the devices, so that it would know I read up to page 77 on the iPhone/iPad and then automatically open to page 78 when I start the Kindle?
posted by Admiral Haddock to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

It has a iphone app, so you might not even need the kindle.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 7:04 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

.... and also exports in Kindle format
posted by TheOtherGuy at 7:06 AM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster: I've just played with instapaper a bit now, but I've found that it's not 100% accurate--in the short story I just bookmarked, it ran several paragraphs together, for some reason, ignoring a few br tags.

I'll play with it some more at home tonight. What I'd really like, though, is a solution to create and store the files on my computer as part of my own library; I don't love just syncing it all up through the web. I see that you can export from instapaper, so that may be the solution, but for all its kludginess, I liked having a file on my computer at home I could open in Word if I wanted to.

Any other ideas?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:58 AM on October 12, 2010

Seconding Instapaper. I use it with my Kindle and love it. To your bonus question - Kindle apps will synch across your devices, but, of course you have to be connected. I often turn the wifi off on my Kindle to save battery power, so this doesn't always work out...
posted by mkim at 8:02 AM on October 12, 2010

Sorry - missed your response. Yes you can download your Instapaper articles as a mobi file for Kindle. That's what I do. And then use Calibre to add/remove from the Kindle.
posted by mkim at 8:05 AM on October 12, 2010

The nook.

Seriously--my husband got me one recently and it's fantastic, and handles pdfs and epubs like a dream. If not the nook, why not get some other ereader that actually handles the formats you use?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:20 AM on October 12, 2010

(Oh, and Calibre works to make epubs for the nook.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:24 AM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster: I'd definitely consider the Nook--but the thing is, I'm more concerned about getting the content off the web (and lookin' sweet!) than getting it onto the device; as you say, Calibre can keep the catalogue, or I can add files to iTunes easily.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:34 AM on October 12, 2010

Calibre will go directly from html to epub or mobi, automatically and quickly. There is no need to go throguh all those other steps.
posted by rtimmel at 8:35 AM on October 12, 2010

On your bonusquestion -- no. Amazon will sync Amazon purchased materials between the Kindle and the Kindle apps. It does not sync non-Amazon purchased material.
posted by rtimmel at 8:41 AM on October 12, 2010

If it's any extra enticement, I've used adobe digital editions to sync all sorts of content (pdfs, epubs, nook epubs, converted .docs) to my nook. And everything has looked pretty much perfect. However, I don't know how (or if) it works with the iphone.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:54 AM on October 12, 2010

1) I just tested the latest version of Calibre, and it apparently converts html to epub (as well as mobi, pdb, and pdf) just fine (at least the page I tried). That would skip that extremely time-consuming sounding process you're doing now. I do not know how the accuracy is on large pages/docs, so maybe that's why you've been using this other process.

2) My Android Kindle app has not been syncing pdf files I've put on the Kindle (but not on the Android). It does, however, sync stuff I've gotten from Gutenberg. According to this link, that's how the iPhone app works, too. (I just tested the Gutenberg syncing, after reading rtimmel's comment on preview, and it does work.) However, it doesn't appear to sync (or even show) books I sent through the Kindle email service. I don't understand what's going on there.

3) The footers that occasionally appear on other people's pdfs are annoying (and not worth the hassle of getting rid of, to me), but if you're the one creating the pdf, you could just create it without the headers and footers in the first place. Calibre has never worked very well for removing footers for me, even though that is in the options.
posted by wending my way at 9:01 AM on October 12, 2010

There's probably an easier way, but this is how I get articles from the Web onto my Kindle: I copy the text from the printable version, paste it into a TextEdit document, save that file, and e-mail it to my free Kindle e-mail address. So far it's worked fine.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:05 AM on October 12, 2010

When I download web articles to read on my Kindle, I put them in RTF. It renders well.
posted by neuron at 3:32 PM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster: OK! It looks like my new approach is to download the piece from Chrome as an HTML file, then strip out the header/table tags (etc.) and then just convert to an epub/mobi in Calibre. This will save hours and hours.

Thanks to all for your help!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:17 AM on October 13, 2010

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