Since this post was written, Sigil has come back and is better than ever! Yay!
Sigil, my ePub editor of choice, is no longer being developed. The last version still works great for ePub2 editing—clean code, no bloat, effortless file management, previews, metadata support, validation, and elegant design—but going forward to ePub3, its useful life will end and loyal users must move on.
Sigil’s mantle will now fall to Calibre, which has a new “Edit ePub” feature (replacing the older “Tweak ePub” functionality). I’ve tried Calibre in the past and rejected it, mainly for adding a huge amount of unnecessary and proprietary code to the ePub XHTML. I hope that’s no longer the case.
The developer of Calibre is nothing if not dedicated to the task of improving and promoting the conversion program. He deserves props for that and for adding more editing capability to Calibre. Could be that the current version of the program is up to the task. I don’t know yet, but I’ll give it a fair try.
Calibre is available for free download for Windows, Windows 64bit, Mac, Linux, and portable drives. Same as for Sigil, if you like and use the program, it’s good to donate something towards future development.
Calibre’s Killer Feature
The changelog reports that “Edit Book” lets you edit HTML, CSS, and images in ePub and AZW3 books, with “automated tools for error-checking, table of contents, merging, splitting, bulk renaming and so on.” For details, see Calibre’s edit manual. Robust editing is a new world for Calibre, so we are warned to “expect a few bugs.” Calibre has a good track record for continuous updating, so that’s an honest, but not alarming, caution. The ability to examine or edit AZW3 books is a “killer” feature.
- Roll your own ePub from scratch is still a viable option. It’s not difficult, but faster and less error-prone with a good editor that supports multi-file projects and regular expressions. I’ve used Notepad++, EditPad Pro, and UltraEdit. They’re all great editors. Notepad++ is free, EditPad Pro has awesome regex support, and UltraEdit has a kitchen sink of options for coders.
- Adobe InDesign is looking better all the time. It excels at print layout and can export ePub, but has a high learning curve and some quirks that must be attended to when working with eBooks. InDesign CC has built-in support for exporting documents to ePub and Kindle. There’s also an Amazon Kindle export plugin for InDesign.
- Scrivener supports compiling for ePub and Kindle. The interface is daunting for new users, but the program offers many options and organizational tools for authors. Once you get the hang of it, Scrivener really shines for writing. I don’t have a sense of its goodness for exporting to other formats using the Compile options.