This is my inaugural tutorial. The aim of this, and subsequent tutorials is to offer my knowledge and “expertise” to those who are looking for specific answers to specific questions.
This tutorial is going to cover how you create an EPUB or Mobi of a graphic novel or manga for your eReader. Your eReader could be a Kindle, Nook, iPad or any other variant.
The key is to make sure that your reader is supported by Calibre. But there aren’t that many devices that aren’t supported by Calibre
What You’ll Need
You’ll need several things for this tutorial:
- Some kind of graphic novel or manga in an electronic format (scanned, preferably)
- A computer (obviously). It doesn’t matter which operating system you use, since all of these tools (and indeed all eReaders) are operating system independent
- Three pieces of free software: GiMP, 7Zip and Calbre (download and install them, now. It’ll save time later).
First Things First
And now for the slightly boring but legal bit
This tutorial is provided “as is” and is meant to impart the working practises and methods that can be used to achieve a certain goal using modern computing equipment.
This tutorial does not contain links to web services where copyrighted material can be obtained.
This tutorial does contain the steps required to create an EPUB or Mobi file for an eReader using free, open source software.
What This Tutorial Assumes
I assume that you are able to navigate an operating system, install software, read and understand English and follow instructions. That is all. No advanced degrees in Computer Science should be needed.
Oh, I also assume that you have either:
- a collection of images or
- a zip file containing a collection of images
Step One – Checking The Images
Check that the images you have are numbered. They need to be numbered in the correct order.
For instance, if I was dealing with a comic book, I would make sure that the first page was named something like”<name of comic book>-01.jpg” and that the final page was named something like “<name of comic book>-32.jpg”
Assuming that the comic book was only 30 pages long, with a cover page and a final page, too
Here is a screen shot, showing you the format I mean. You’ll notice that this comic book has only three pages, and that they are saved as png files. To be honest, it doesn’t matter what file type the images are saved as, since they’re going to be converted into the correct format for your eReader any way.
The naming convention I’ve used here is slightly different, but as long as the images are listed in the correct order, then it doesn’t matter what naming convention you use.
Step Two – Resizing The Images
The next thing you might want to do is edit them. All we should have to do is resize and drop the DPI for the images.
Most scanned comic books, graphic novels and manga are in very high res. Ths is fine if we’re going to read them with one a computer (maybe using Comic Rack, or something), but not if we’re going to read them on an eReader; especially since most eReaders have a limited screen resolution and memory.
So, open the first image with GiMP. You should see something that looks similar to this:
The area that we’re going to focus on is the “Image” menu. Specifically, we’re going to look at the “Scale Image” tool within the “Image” menu exclusively.
The “Scale Image” tool has only a few options, and we’re only going to change three things at maximum).
The first thing we’re going to do is drop the “Image Size”; most eReaders have a maximum images height of, about, 1000 pixels. So, change the number in the box next to “Image Height” to 1000. You should find that the number in the box next to “Image Width” changes, too (if it doesn’t, then click on the chain icon on the right of the boxes for both “Image Height” and “Image Width”)
Next, we’re going to drop the DPI (Dots Per Inch) or Resolution of the image to acceptable levels for eReaders. Most high resolution images have a DPI of, around 200+. This means that there are 200 (or more) pixels per inch of the image. The higher the number the more pixels there are in the image(which boosts the quality). The only problem with this, is that high DPI images will take a long time to display (if they display at all) on most eReaders.
All we need to do here is change the value in the box next to “X Resolution” to 75 (my go-to number for eReaders, as it’s nice and small, but still retains a fair amount of quality). You should find that the value in the box next to “Y Resolution” should change to 75, automatically (again, if it doesn’t, then click on the chain icon on the right of the boxes for both “X Resolution” and “Y Resolution”)
The final step is to change the “Interpolation” to “Sinc (Lanczos3)” then hit the “Scale” button.
You’re computer will do some maths, then produce the scaled image. Save this image (Ctlr+S/Command key + S or File>Save) and you’re done.
Step Three – I Couldn’t Think Of A Catchy Name For This Step
Perform Step Two on each of the images. Come back when you’re done. I’ll wait here patiently.
Step Four – Creating The CBZ File
Done? Excellent. Now what you need to do is used 7Zip to compress the folder containing your comic book into a zip file. But we’re going to change it’s file type from .zip to .cbz
You can also use cbr, but cbz is a littler quicker at Step Five
Right. Navigate to the folder with your images in. Then go up one folder.
For instance, the comic book that I am using is one called “Beta!!” You can see the files for this in the following screenshot:
As you can see they are stored on my computer at C:MangaBeta!!
One folder up from that would be C:Manga That means I want to go to this folder. As can be seen here:
Next, we need to right-click the folder with the comic book images in (at least in Windows) mouse over “7Zip…” and select “Add to Archive…”
I’m using Windows here, so you’ll need to figure out how to compress a folder into a zip file on your Operating System if it is different to mine.
The compression options screen should come up:
Most of these options are fine as they are (check that your options match mine). The only thing that needs to be changed is the text in the box under“Archive:” (at the top of the window. The only thing we want to change are the final three letters. We want to change those to “cbz”
In my example, the text will read “Beta!!.cbz” as can been seen here:
Your computer will do some more maths and compress the comic book image files into a zip file, then turn that file into a cbz file.
Step Five – Adding The CBZ File To Calibre
This one is real easy. The file that we just created?
Drag and drop it into Calibre; this will add the cbz to your library of books.
I use Calibre to manage my kindle, and it’s an excellent program
As you can see, “Beta!!” has been added to my library, but it has no meta-data (or tags). Both your eReader and Calibre use meta-data to organise your library of books. Any books that are already on your eReader will have meta-data on there (that’s how it knows what the title of the book is, what the name of the author is, how many pages the book has, what page you are up to, etc)
Step Six – Adding Meta-Data To The CBZ File
You can skip this step if you wish, but I don’t recommend it
To add meta-data to your comic book, all you have to do is right click on it, mouse over “Edit Metadata” and click on “Edit Metadata individually”
Adding meta-data is as simple as clicking into a box and typing it in. If you want, you can use Calibre’s built-in tools to download the correct meta-data for you (you’ll need to have the isbn number, minimum, for this to work correctly) but I’m not going to show you how to do that.
When you’re done adding meta-data, click “Ok” to save the meta-data.
Step Seven – Creating an EPUB or Mobi
Right click on your comic book, mouse over “Convert Books” and click on “Convert books individually”
Your comic book might have moved down your list of books, if you have more than one. This is because Calibre will be sorting your library by the authors’ surnames
The conversion wizard should be shown. You only have to alter two things on this wizard. As can bee seen here:
Make sure that you tick the box labelled “Do not add a Table of Contents to book”
And make sure that you select the correct file format for your reader from the drop down menu. When you are ready, click “Ok”
Step Eight – Deleting The CBZ
Go back to the Meta-data window (read Step Six, if you can’t remember how)
In the top right of the screen, you should see “CBZ (some numbers)” and “MOBI(some numbers)” or “EPUB(some numbers)”
The part that I’ve called “some numbers” is the size of the file in megabytes
Simply click on the icon that has the universal symbol for “Recycling” to delete the CBZ file. Now click on “Ok”.
Plug your eReader into your computer and wait a few moments for Calibre to recognise it. You’ll know that Calibre has recognised your eReader because a new column will be added to your library called “On Device”.
With your comic book selected, click on the “Send to Device” button at the top of the screen:
In a few moments your new comic book will have been copied across to your eReader. When it has been copied to your device, a green tick will appear next to the book under the “On Device” column.
Now close Calibre and safely remove your eReader and voilà.
That wasn’t so hard now, was it?