Epub scripts

Recently, I read a few stories from Andy Hertzfeld's site, which are terrific stories about the development of the Macintosh. As I read it, I started to view a few videos, some podcasts etc that were connected to the stories. Wouldn't it be nice to bundle all of this into a single epub, so it's all in one place?

Well, you can always do that by editing an epub in Sigil or other tools. However, I've found it convenient to take out some of the tedium through a couple of small scripts that bundle everything together from txt files. The scripts do very little -- it's best suited when you pretty much have straight text, and perhaps a set of media that you want to insert into the text at appropriate places.

It also assumes that you're reasonably comfortable with the command-line, and can deal with a couple of thrown-together scripts. [Fortunately, they are small so I hope they will at least be a starting point.]

Here's how I assemble my epub. First, I create a directory that will hold all the content I want in the epub.

$ mkdir macintosh_stories

Next, I create text files -- one for each chapter, to contain the text. So (say) I create one file called macintosh_stories/01.txt that contains this:


Even though Bruce Daniels was the manager of the Lisa software team,
he was very supportive of the Mac project. He had written the
mouse-based text editor that we were using on the Lisa to write all of
our code, and he even transferred to the Mac team as a mere programmer

You can mark (2 levels) of headlines with the # character. One # is the largest headline, and ## gives a subheading. There isn't anything much else it does, though you can notate italics by _italics_.

This is sufficient to create the first epub -- and you run it as

$ gen.sh macintosh_stories "Macintosh Stories" "Andy Hertzfeld"

Let it do its thing, and your epub will be left under macintosh_stories/out.epub

To create more chapters -- keep adding more txt files. The sequence of chapters are strictly determined by the filename of the text file -- so I usually create text files like 01_xxx.txt, 02_xxx.txt and so on.

To add a cover and other media, first create a directory called media

$ mkdir macintosh_stories/media

If you then create a file called macintosh_stories/media/cover.jpg, the scripts will add the cover to the epub.

To add images into the file, first place them into the media directory. For example, in the above story -- there's an image of the packaging, which I've saved as macintosh_stories/media/alice_packaging.jpg

From within 01.txt, I refer to it as:

disk was enclosed in a small cardboard box designed to look like a
finely printed, old fashioned book, complete with an elaborate woodcut
on the cover, that contained a hidden Dead Kennedy's logo, in tribute
to one of Capp's favorite bands.

[> media/alice_packaging.jpg <]

Since Alice didn't take up the whole disk, Capps including a few other
goodies with it, including a font and "Amazing", a fascinating maze

Now I was curious how the game itself looked. So I downloaded a youtube video. Please note that it must be an mp4 file. This too, I put into the media directory, and embed it the same way in my txt file.

Since Alice didn't take up the whole disk, Capps including a few other
goodies with it, including a font and "Amazing", a fascinating maze
generating program that he wrote.

[> media/alice.mp4 <]

When I saw the completed packaging, I was surprised to discover that

You can also embed audio in the same way as well, interviews, podcasts, or audio versions all work well. But please note that it must be in the .m4a format. This is the only format that works on the Color Nook. I use ffmpeg to convert an mp3s into m4a, and that seems to do the trick.

Here is a zip file of the scripts and just for kicks, the sample epub.

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