Andrew Matthews

Preparing a Project Gutenberg ebook for use on a 6″ ereader


For a while I’ve been trying to find a nice way to convert project Gutenberg books to look pleasant on a BeBook One. I’ve finally hit on the perfect combination of tools, that produces documents ideally suited to 6″ eInk ebook readers like my BeBook. The tool chain involves using GutenMark to convert the file into LaTeX and then TeXworks to modify the geometry and typography of the LaTeX file to suit the dimensions of the document to suit the small screen of the BeBook, then MiKTeX to convert the resultant LaTeX files into PDF (using pdfLaTeX).  Go to GutenMark (plus GUItenMark) for windows, MikTeX which includes the powerful TeX editor TeXworks, install them, and ensure they are on the path.

Here’s an example of the usual LaTeX output gtom GUItenMark. Note that this is configured for double-sided printed output.

\geometry{verbose,paperwidth=5.5in,paperheight=8.5in, tmargin=0.75in,bmargin=0.75in, lmargin=1in,rmargin=1in}
\evensidemargin = -0.25in
\oddsidemargin = 0.25in

We don’t need the margins to be so large, and we don’t need a difference in the odd and even side margins, since all pages on an ereader need to look the same. Modify the geometry of the page to the following:

\geometry{verbose,paperwidth=3.5in,paperheight=4.72in, tmargin=0.5in,bmargin=0in, lmargin=0.2in,rmargin=0.2in}

This has the added benefit of slightly increasing the perceived size of the text when displayed on the screen. Comment out the odd and even side margins like so:

%\evensidemargin = -0.25in
%\oddsidemargin = 0.25in

And here is what you get:

The finished product

Since both gutenmark and pdflatex are command line tools, we can script the conversion process. The editing is done with Sed (the stream editor). I get mine from cygwin, though there are plenty of ways to get the Gnu toolset onto a windows machine these days.

/c/Program\ Files/GutenMark/binary/GutenMark.exe --config="C:\Program Files\GutenMark\GutConfigs\GutenMark.cfg" --ron --latex "$1.txt" "$1.tex"

sed 's/paperwidth=5.5in/paperwidth=3.5in/
s/\\evensidemargin/%\\evensidemargin/' <"$1.tex" >"$1.bebook.tex"

pdflatex  -interaction nonstopmode "$1.bebook.tex"

rm *.aux *.log *.toc *.tex

Now all you need to do is invoke this bash script with the (extensionless) name of the gutenberg text file, and it will give you a PDF file in return. nice.