How do I annotate epub's in a portable way?
June 4, 2014 4:16 AM   Subscribe

I prefer to work with electronic academic texts in PDFs since I can annotate them in a portable way and easily store them in Zotero. I have a few texts, however, that I only have access to as epub's. What's the best way to annotate them so that I can return to those annotations at any point and search them in Zotero?

I use a Macbook air running Mavericks and plan to do all my reading on there. There seem to be at least two options:

1. Use some kind of ereader program that allows annotations. I am a little worried on this front, though, since apparently epubs don't include annotations as part of their specification and so each ereader does annotations slightly differently. I am anxious that in a few years I won't be able to read those annotations. Furthermore, I doubt that these annotations would then be searchable through Zotero. I can see that this is in many ways the more attractive option, though -- working with epub's as they were meant to be used.

2. Convert the epubs to PDFs and use them that way. I would prefer this option, but I'm having difficulty finding software that allows an attractive conversion to PDF. Calibre technically does it, but the resulting PDFs are very ugly (hardly any margins, weird page breaks and font sizes). I'd appreciate any help in finding a better conversion program or teaching me how to use Calibre effectively (very simple instructions).

Thanks for your help in advance. Happy to provide more details if helpful.
posted by crazy with stars to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Try an epub to PDF conversion on I've had great luck with them.
posted by chasles at 4:36 AM on June 4, 2014

Epubs are zipped html files so you could unzip it, open in a text editor/browser, add your own style sheet and print to pdf from there.

I've tested it on am small file but I'm sure it would work with book length files.

And once you created that style sheet it would be usable for many more.

Here's a starter tutorial.
posted by humph at 4:45 AM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Does Zotero work with Firefox's EPUBReader add-on?
posted by scruss at 6:57 AM on June 4, 2014

Calibre will convert EPUBs to PDF.
posted by gregr at 2:50 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

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