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Inspiration Lab - Sigil

Want to share your story with the world? Learn how to create your own eBook using Sigil.

Getting Started with Sigil

The Inspiration Lab is a free place dedicated to digital creativity, collaboration and storytelling. It features high-performance computers, analog-to-digital conversion, recording studios, video editing and self-publishing software.

Sigil is a free, open source program that lets you create and format ePub documents, like eBooks. Working files within Sigil are automatically saved as reflowable EPUB 2.0. 

Booking Inspiration Lab Equipment

The Inspiration Lab is a self-directed, Do-It-Yourself space in the library to help you create and experiment with digital media.

Recording studios, equipment, and computers are available for booking if you have a library card with the Vancouver Public Library. To use the studios, you will need to have a library card with proof of address and no more than $10 in library fees. The Creation Stations and Digitization Stations can be used by anyone with a valid card, including an Internet Access card.

The Inspiration Lab is open during regular Central library hours. However, the recording studios close half an hour before the rest of the library.

  • The recording studios can be booked for a maximum of three hours per day.
     
  • Creation Stations and Digitization Stations can be booked up to three hours per day, but a Creation Station or Digitzation Station session may be extended at staff discretion if time is available and other library patrons are not waiting to use it.
     
  • Bookings of studios, Creation Stations, and Digitization Stations can be made up to two weeks in advance. For more information on booking, please see the booking instructions for recording studios, Creation Stations, or Digitization Stations.

Project Checklist

Bring the following with you to the Inspiration Lab to start working on your eBook project:

Must Haves:

✔ A digital copy of your manuscript that has been edited and basic formatting applied (.doc, .docx, .html, .rtf).
✔ Portable storage device to save your working files (USB, Portable Hard Drive).

Optional:

✔ Backup copy of any website links.
✔ Photographs, illustrations, other graphics (.jpg, .png).
✔ Cover artwork (.jpg, .png), this can also be created using Adobe InDesign CC or Photoshop CC.
✔ Video and audio files (Interactive PDF or Fixed layout EPUB 3.0 only).

Choosing Software

You can think of creating your eBook with the following formula in mind: 
 

Document + Formatting software + EPUB conversion software = eBook

 

When deciding what software to use for your project, consider the following points:

  • Your level of technical expertise
  • The amount of time you have to devote to the project
  • What you want your eBook to accomplish
  • Who your intended audience is
  • What type of device you want it to be read on

 

Tech Skills: Basic
Format: Reflowable EPUB 2.0

Aspose.Words Express
  • I just want to share my eBook with family and friends
  • I'm not really concerned with how my eBook is formatted
  • My manuscript is text-only
  • I want software that is fast and easy to use
  • I have a tight timeline


Tech Skills: Basic to Intermediate
Format: Reflowable EPUB 2.0

Sigil
  • I want to share my eBook with family and friends
  • I would like to submit my eBook to a distributor online and reach a wider audience 
  • I want more control over how my eBook is formatted
  • My manuscript has text and images, but also tables and web links
  • I have beginner to intermediate technical skills and I'm familiar with word processing software
  • I have some familiarity with HTML and CSS
  • I want to add metadata to my eBook 


Tech Skills: Advanced
Formats: Fixed Layout EPUB 3.0 or 
Interactive PDF

Adobe InDesign CC
  • I want to share my eBook with family and friends
  • I would like to submit my eBook to a distributor online and reach a wider audience 
  • I want more control over the visual layout and formatting of my eBook
  • I want the layout to remain the same across devices
  • My manuscript has text and images, but also tables, and interactive content like audio and video 
  • I am a quick learner and have plenty of time to explore new software
  • I have used other Adobe Creative Suite Software in the past
  • I am interested in creating other materials for print - brochures, cards, printed books

Types of eBook Formats

Reflowable EPUB vs. Fixed Layout EPUB3

Although the majority of eBooks are reflowable, the newer EPUB 3.0 format allows for books with fixed layouts, similar to PDFs. There are many different file formats for eBooks, but the two file types held as standard are PDF and EPUB. Each of these file formats have their own advantages and limitations, and are things to keep in mind when starting your project. Adobe Digital Editions 4.0 supports the new EPUB 3.0 format and is installed on the Inspiration Lab computers. It is also free to download and install for home use.

For a detailed listing of the many different kinds of eBook formats, see the Wikipedia comparison of file formats.

  Reflowable (EPUB 2.0.) Fixed Layout (EPUB 3.0.) Fixed Layout (Interactive PDF)
Advantages
  • Accepted by most platforms and devices
  • Readable on any size of screen
  • Cheap and simple to produce
  • Simple formatting
  • Easy to update
  • Embedded metadata
  • Open Format but can be protected by DRM
  • Complete control over page layout (fonts, image positioning, mulit-columns, etc.)
  • Allows for interactivity and animation
  • Can sell through iBooks store (as opposed to PDF)
  • Good for children's books, cookbooks and "coffee table" photography books
  • Ideal pages that rely heavily on images, layout designs, and particular fonts
  • Can use word processor
  • Supports hyperlinks
  • PDFs that include audio, video, and animated transitions
Limitations
  • Only supports simple page layout – no multi-column or absolutely positioned content.
  • The reader controls the text size, font, line spacing and margins
  • Limited support for embedding specific fonts
  • Supported only by tablets, not eReaders.
  • Does not adapt to particular devices, making it difficult to read on small device screens
  • Requires significantly more design work
  • More involved to update
  • More expensive to produce
  • Will not adapt to particular devices = difficult to read on small device screens
  • Limited options for metadata
  • Can be viewed on your eReader but need to zoom in and out to see the full page or make font larger