Ebooks are quickly becoming the most popular publication medium for books. More people than ever are buying their books in digital form, and ebooks open up an invaluable opportunity for publishers and self-published authors alike. ebooks are even a popular tool for inbound marketing and lead generation.
If you want to create your own ebook in Linux, you have some excellent options, and they’re all free (both as in beer and freedom) and open source.
These aren’t in any particular order. They’re all great, and you should choose the one that best fits your use case and style.
Scribus is a full-featured desktop publication program. It includes options for creating custom layouts for both print and digital media.
It provides a simple yet powerful drag-and-drop interface that allows you to create professional layouts using both text and graphics. You can can tailor your designs to your publication medium and page size. Of course, you can create multi-page layouts in Scribus as well.
Calibre is all about ebooks but in a very different way. It is an ebook management platform. Calibre doesn’t just focus on creating ebooks. It also has the tools to read, download, and manage a full collection.
Calibre is your library. You can download books and magazines directly through Calibre and manage them through it. It provides tools for you to organize and even make backups of all of your downloaded books and magazines.
Calibre is also an ebook reader. It has all of the capabilities that you’d expect from a traditional e-reader, like a Kindle.
This article is about authoring, and Calibre is totally capable there as well. Calibre enables you to do everything from minor edits to creating your own book from scratch.
3. LibreOffice with Writer2ePub
If you’ve been using Linux for a while, you’re probably familiar with LibreOffice Writer. It’s been the standard for document writing on Linux for years.
LibreOffice Writer is an excellent open-source alternative for Microsoft Word, and it’s available for every major operating system. Writer has all of the features that you’d expect from a top-notch word processor, and it can easily handle very large documents.
While LibreOffice Writer itself can’t export to .epub or any ebook format other than PDF, it has an available extension that can. Writer2ePub allows Writer to export in the .epub format to create ebooks. It doesn’t change the way this word processor works or make layouts any easier, but it does make Writer a solid option for creating ebooks that are primarily text.
Sigil is geared exclusively towards creating ebooks. It allows you to use it either as somewhat of a word processor or as an HTML editor. It also has a powerful WYSIWYG editor that enables you to bypass writing any HTML and handle the layout graphically.
Even with the WYSIWYG, Sigil is a tool for users who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and control the layout of their book manually. If you have some knowledge of HTML and CSS and you want fine-grained control over your layouts, Sigil is a great option.
Pandoc is something entirely different. It isn’t an editor, and it isn’t an authoring tool. You certainly don’t write in Pandoc either.
So what is it? Pandoc is a command-line utility that allows you to convert documents between virtually any format. You can write your ebook in HTML, markdown, or even LaTeX and easily convert it to multiple formats including .epub. Pandoc also allows you to include CSS styling.
Pandoc is the ultimate power tool for gaining complete control over your project.
Any of these tools will be able to handle your ebook projects. Each one is fully capable. The main difference between all of these authoring tools is their style. Some, like Scribus, are more graphical in nature. On the opposite end of the spectrum you’ll find Pandoc, with no GUI whatsoever. Which would you prefer to work with?
You should take the type of book that you’re writing into account, too. LaTeX is almost mandatory for some subjects. That would point you right in the direction of Pandoc. Maybe you’re just writing a novel with only text. LibreOffice might be the simplest solution for you. If all else fails, experiment. You’re bound to love at lease one of these awesome publication tools.