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What is the Mobipocket file formatHow do I create a Mobipocket eBookStandard eBooksAdvanced eBooks
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Extended eBook features
DatabasesSQL queriesJavascriptHTML forms
Open-eBook HTML tagsSupported HTML entitiesHTML form tagsMobipocket custom tagsOPF x-metadata tagsMobipocket URLsMobipocket Document Object Model (DOM)Mobipocket Active Server Pages (ASP)Mobipocket Active Data Objects (ADO)Mobipocket Javascript Objects
Drug interaction module
Advanced topics
Setting margins
Home | Hide TOC | Add to Favorites updated: 2008-04-24

Creating an eBook from scratch
Creating an eBook from existing content in a different format
  Deciding which format to use
  From an IDPF publication (IDPF 1.0 or 2.0)
  From HTML
  From XML and XSL
  From a Microsoft Word document
  From an RTF (Rich Text Format) document
  From a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet
  From a CHM file (Microsoft Compressed HTML Help)
  From an Adobe PDF file
  Modifying a converted book
FAQ about the PDF conversion
Conversion tips and tricks


To create and build Mobipocket eBook files, you should use one of the following tools:

  • Mobipocket Creator Home Edition: this graphical application lets you create or assemble content for personal use.
    Mobipocket Creator Home Edition is free.
    More details | Download | User manual
  • Mobipocket Creator Publisher Edition: if you are a publisher and intend to sell eBooks through eBookbase, this is the version of the Mobipocket Creator that you should use. Additional features essential for publishers include:
    • the encryption level required by eBookbase
    • an integrated "deploy" feature to automatically upload or update your books in eBookbase
    • the metadata editor to set the price, ISBN, cover image... of your books
    • PDF import
    Mobipocket Creator Publisher Edition is free.
    More details | Download | User manual
  • KindleGen this command line tool allows you to build a Mobipocket eBook from an OPF publication or a single HTML file. This can be used by advanced users to create build chains.
    KindleGen is free.

Creating an eBook from scratch

If you want to create an eBook from scratch you can either:

  • use one of the ready-to-use templates in the Mobipocket Creator.
    For instance, if you want to create a recipes books, choose the "Cooking Recipe Database" template end use the user interface to enter recipes one by one. The building process will create the nice layout, colors and fonts, will add the searching indexes and will make a full eBook from the raw recipes data.
  • use an HTML editor to create the content. There are a lot of different HTML editing software that allow you to type and format text, insert images, tables, etc... You can then build this HTML into an eBook using the Mobipocket Creator.

Creating an eBook from existing content in a different format

There are a number of different file formats that can be converted directly or indirectly to an eBook. The process is different for the different file formats.

Which format should I use

In some case, the source files for your publication can be used directly in Creator or can be imported in the Creator. In some other cases, you will have to use an export feature of the editing software you used to create your book. The exported intermediary files can then be used or imported in the Creator. In this situation, you will have to decide on the intermediary format to use.

Formats that you can use directly or import in the Creator (from the most recommended to the least recommended) are:

  1. IDPF 1.0 or 2.0 (OPF + HTML)
  2. HTML files
  3. XML and XSL
  4. Microsoft Word document
  5. RTF document
  6. PDF

When converting books, an intermediary format may be needed, the decision process should be the following:

1. If the source files of the book are in one of the following formats:

Source format of the book
from the most recommended to the least recommended
How to create
(click to read more)
How to change the
formatting in the eBook
1. source format is IDPF 1.0 or 2.0 (OPF + HTML) → open OPF change HTML files
2. source format is HTML → add HTML
3. source format is XML → add XML & XSL change XSL stylesheet
4. source format is Microsoft Word → import Word change intermediary HTML files that are part of the Mobipocket Publication, do not change original source files and import again, more here
5. source format is RTF → import RTF

2. for any other source format, check the export / save as feature of the editing software

Possible intermediary export formats
from the most recommended to the least recommended
How to create
(click to read more)
How to change the
formatting in the eBook
1. editing software has an IPDF export feature→ export to IDPF → open OPF change intermediary HTML files that are part of the Mobipocket Publication, do not change original source files and export again, do not change intermediary Word or RTF files and import again, more here
2. editing software has an HTML export feature→ export to HTML → add HTML
3. editing software has a Microsoft Word export feature→ export to Word → import Word
4. editing software has an RTF export feature→ export to RTF → import RTF
5. as a last resort, if editing software has a PDF export feature→ export to PDF → import PDF

Note: PDF is not a source format, it is an export format from a software edition tool that has its own native format.

From an OPF publication (IDPF 1.0 or 2.0)

Mobipocket Creator supports OPF files natively. Simply open the OPF publication with the Creator and build it. It will produce a Mobipocket eBook.


Mobipocket file format is based on HTML. To create an eBook with your HTML file(s), simply create a blank publication in the Creator. Then add all the HTML files using the "Add File" link or by dragging and dropping HTML files on the Creator window.

Please note that links from one HTML page to the other will work provided that the destination file is part of the publication. This means that if you have a set of cross-linked HTML files, you have to add them all to your publication, the Creator won't follow the links to find out what extra HTML files are needed.

From XML and XSL

The Mobipocket Creator supports XML in the sense that it is capable of apply XSL stylesheets to transform XML into XHTML before building the publication. Therefore, creating a Mobipocket eBook file from XML requires knowledge of XSL and HTML.

Create a blank publication, add your XML file using the "Add File" link, then click on "properties" for the new XML item, fill in the "XSL stytlesheet" field and click on "Update". The XSL is automatically applied to the XML during the build process.

From a Microsoft Word document

Use the Word import feature of the Creator. This will convert your Word document to HTML and add it to a new publication. You simply have to build the produced publication.

From an RTF (Rich Text Format) document

Use the Word import feature of the Creator. Simply select the RTF file instead of a Word document at the first step of the import wizard.

From a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet

You can convert Excel spreadsheets to HTML tables that will display properly in the Mobipocket Reader. However, you have to be aware that big spreadsheets will make large tables that won't be easy to read on devices with a small screens.

To perform the conversion, open your spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel and use the "Save As..." feature. Select "Web Page (*.htm;*.html)" as "Save as type" in the dialog box. You can then use the exported HTML in the Creator either by using the "Import from HTML" feature or by adding it to an existing publication.

From a CHM file (Microsoft Compressed HTML Help)

Coming soon: a CHM import feature in the Creator.

From an Adobe PDF file

You can use the PDF import feature of the Creator. This requires the Mobipocket Creator Publisher Edition. This will convert your PDF to HTML and add it to a new publication. You simply have to build the produced publication.

Modifying a converted book

If you need to modify a publication after you have imported it in the Mobipocket Creator or after you have exported it from the orginal edition tool, you should modify the HTML that was produced by the conversion. Usually modifying the original document and re-exporting it or re-importing it won't give good results.

You can edit an HTML item by selecting it and clicking on the "Edit with the HTML editor" link. You can configure the HTML editor you want to use in the Creator settings.

FAQ about the PDF conversion

We have had a lot of questions about the conversion from Adobe PDF to Mobipocket that our tools perform. Here is a summary of the most important points that people should understand when using this conversion.

  1. Why don't Mobipocket eBooks retain the exact layout of the PDF
    This is because PDF is a fixed layout format designed for printing and Mobipocket is a reflowable format designed to be displayed on screens that differ greatly in size and width / height ratio. For an explanation on reflowable versus fixed layout, please read this article.
    Mobipocket is one implementation of the Open eBook Publication format. The Open eBook Publication format is developed and specified by the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum) an independent organization formerly known as the Open eBook Consortium. This consortium specified that the format should be reflowable because it is the only way to provide a good reading experience on a variety of devices. Since most of the reading of electronic books happens on a portable device and not a desktop, it is important to optimize the reading experience on all devices and not just desktop computers.
  2. Why is so much of the formatting lost?
    The problem is that PDF is a "destructive" format in the sense that you loose all high level information. PDFs store characters and coordinates for each character or word. The information contained is very much like a scan of the printed pages. The notions of words, lines, paragraphs do not even exist in the format. Much less the flow of text (what follows what).
    So to convert the PDF document to a reflowable format which you can view on different screen sizes using any font size, our software has to apply "Artificial Intelligence" - like algorithms that simulate the way a human reader with knowledge of western typographical conventions would read the text. Using these algorithms, it reassembles characters into words, words into lines, lines into paragraphs, paragraphs into columns, etc... Even though we use a lot of complex algorithms, some of the formatting is lost. The goal of our software is to extract the text from the PDF without corrupting it and retain a minimum of formatting which is already an achievement.
  3. Why are tables not converted?
    As metioned in the previous paragraph, all the information about paragraphs, columns, tables, etc... is lost in PDF file. For instance for tables, you have lines that are drawn at various locations on the page. As of today, our software is not able to determine that these lines drawn on the page form a table.
  4. Why are images not the same size as in the PDF?
    The pictures that are not the same size are either because they were of different DPI in the PDF or because the Creator had to resize them the keep the size of the file reasonnable.
  5. Wouldn't third party tools do a much better job at converting PDF to HTML?
    The reason why we implemented this conversion software in the first place is that we did not find any satisfying tool on the market. The truth is that our software performs very well compared to the competition. You can for example try the Adobe's own "Save As HTML" feature in Adobe Acrobat and compare the results.
  6. Is there anything I can do to get better results?
    Use the source document whenever possible. If your PDF was produced by converting a Microsoft Word or RTF document for instance, use the Word or RTF import feature, it will give much better results. If your document was created with another publishing tool, try to find a "Save as" or an "Export" feature. If you can export either as HTML, RTF or Microsoft Word, re-importing that in the Creator will give much better results than importing the PDF file.
  7. Digital assets
    When storing digital assets, the key point is to store as much information as possible. The PDF format stores very little information and is not editable. As a general rule, be sure to have your digital assets in a structured format (XML, XHTML, Microsoft Word, raw text, ...). This will allow you to reuse them in different types of electronic publications.

Conversion tips and tricks

  1. I cannot import my file into the Creator, what do I do?
    Try to find a "Save as" or an "Export" feature in the publishing software you are using. If you can export your publication either as HTML, RTF or Microsoft Word, you can than import that in the Creator. As a last resort, you can export your publication as PDF and re-import it in the Creator.
  2. I have a publication with embedded Excel spreadsheets (for instance in a Word document), I don't like the way these sheets are converted
    Open the spreadsheets in Excel and use the "Save As..." feature. Select "Web Page (*.htm;*.html)" as "Save as type" in the dialog box. This will transform your spreadsheet in HTML. You can than add this HTML file to your publication. This means that you have to split your publication into pieces and re-insert the exported spreadsheets are the right locations.
  3. I absolutely need fixed layout for a couple of pages, how do I do that?
    Convert the whole page to an image and add the image to the publication. In the Mobipocket Reader, the user will have the option to zoom on the image and scroll.
  4. I am not willing to do the conversion, do you offer a conversion service?
    As a general rule, we do not do conversions ourselves, but we recommend that you contact our Conversion partners.

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