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How to Convert an eBook into eReader Format for the iPhone...

For the next few weeks, I’m going to do posts on how to convert ebooks into formats that work on dedicated and multi function devices. First up is the eReader format. Both Stanza and eReader on the iPhone allow uploading of personal content but only in the eReader format. Making an eReader book isn’t hard but it does require some software and depending on your system, maybe an outlay of money.    The following works with both Macs and Windows BUT! you need to have MS Word on your computer.

You need to start with an html file. Most ebooks from epublishers come in html format which is comprised of the book file and an additional folder that contains images and styling information.


If your book is in another format, these instructions won’t work.   This week will address the conversion using two free programs:   Publish eBook and Drop Book.

Step 1: Download Conversion Programs: Publish eBook and Drop Book:

If you have Microsoft Word, download the program “publish ebook.”   This is essentially a Word macro that turns any Word doc into a PDB file.   PDB is the extension that eReader will view.    Once you download the Publish eBook to your computer, open the files and make sure “Drop Book” is included.   If not, you’ll need to download “Drop Book” from   Make sure that DropBook is placed in the “Publishe eBook” folder.   You can place the “Publish eBook” folder anywhere you like, but put it where you will be able to locate the following file whenever you want to do a conversion.



Step 2:   Create a MS Word document from the HTML file.

The above program only works with MS Word files so you’ll need to create a MS Word file from the HTML file you downloaded.   Navigate to your ebook file.  

  • Highlight the ebook file.   
  • Right click and choose Open with. . .
  • Choose MS Word.

MS Word will open and there should be the book with cover.   Go to File, “Properties” and then fill in the title of the book and author of the book.   


Close out of those dialog boxes and choose Save As and choose MS Word doc.


  You should now have a MS Word doc in the folder along with the hmtl file and the images.


Step 3:   Open Publish eBook and create PDB file.

Go to the Publish eBook.doc.   Open it.   You   may have to “Enable Macros”.   Click on the “Publish eBook”.   Navigate to the MS Word document you just created.   Doubleclicking on the MS Word document will trigger the macro and the Publish eBook document will close and your file will be created and saved in the folder where the “doc” existed.


Step 4:   Upload your PDB file to your Personal Bookshelf.

Congratulations.   You have created a simple PDB of your book and can upload that to your or Personal Bookshelf area.   

Step 5:   Further customization using PML.

If you want to pretty up your eReader ebooks, you can hand edit the PML file.   To generate a PML file, uncheck this box in the Publish eBook.doc:


Now when you create a PDB, you will get both a PML file and a PDB file:


Open the PML file with Notepad.exe or Wordpad.exe.   From here you can add images or chapter marks and any other further PML markup as found here.   Adding images, though, is a huge pain in the ass because the images must be in png format that is not filtered or interlaced, must be put in the folder “bookfolder_img” where “bookfolder’ is the name of the folder, and must be less than or equal to 65505 bytes in size.

Next week:   Using Open Office Writer (free).

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Maria
    Dec 14, 2008 @ 08:09:43

    I am going to adopt you!! This is terrific.

    I am not a techy person and this sounds like something even I can follow. Thank you!

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    Dec 14, 2008 @ 08:34:52

    […] today’s tips focus on the eReader format as a destination. Then you can use the eReader program or Stanza to […]

  3. BevQB
    Dec 14, 2008 @ 10:42:33

    YES! Now see, THIS is the kind of stuff I need to know before I make a decision on a device for reading ebooks.

    Thanks Jane. Without you, many of us poor defenseless (*snerk*) Romancelandians would have to brave the scary technogeek sites to try and ferret this info out.

    However, I have two important areas that I also need more info on before I make a decision, and this would apply to your subsequent posts in this series, too:

    Are the results satisfactory? By that I mean, when reading a converted ebook, is it formatted as well as a native ebook or is it screwy but tolerable; does the device treat it like a native ebook- does it remember where you left off reading in these converted books; can it be bookmarked?

    What format and/or conversion program seems to work best on that device? I’m not sure if there is one answer for that since it may depend on the format (LIT, PDF, ePub, etc.).

    Hmmm… I’m not sure all of that applies to an iPhone because it really doesn’t have a native ebook format. But I’d still like to know what reading on an iPhone is like. Or is all this completely off-topic since you are concentrating on conversion programs?

  4. Jane
    Dec 14, 2008 @ 11:38:13

    The conversion results appear fine. The italics and bold transfer. You might not get
    A drop cap and images don’t transfer well.

    The one nice thing about Bookshelf for Iphone is that you don’t have to convert files. It reads almost all kinds.

    Fictionwise only read Ereader format for personal content (ie books you have bought innother formats and want to add to the iPhone).

    Stanza will convert a number if formats, even MS Lit but I have had look and feel issues with Stanza.

  5. Teddypig
    Dec 14, 2008 @ 12:00:30


    I don’t get your post since you are not taking the Stanza Desktop program into consideration for all this.

    If you have the Stanza Desktop installed to your Mac or Windows PC then it will conveniently convert the non-DRM ebooks of most formats for you and transfer the eBook to your iPhone or Kindle.

    If you are buying a eBook directly from say Fictionwise on your iPhone only then does Stanza require only ePub and eReader DRM formats because there is no way to convert the file when using your iPhone only.

    Otherwise just read the Stanza FAQ for the current supported list that the Desktop Stanza Program will support and convert for your iPhone/Kindle…

    Stanza Desktop contains built-in reading support for Amazon Kindle, Mobipocket, Microsoft LIT, PalmDoc, Microsoft Word, Rich Text Format, HTML, and PDF. Stanza iPhone / iPod Touch supports ePub and eReader.

    My suggestion is if you are buying DRM eBooks and you are using windows buy Microsoft .lit and use convertlit and transfer the now non-drm file to your iPhone using Stanza Desktop.

    If you are using Mac the Stanza Desktop program allows you to read non-DRM mobipocket and non-DRM Microsoft .lit so get it for those reasons too.

  6. Emma Wayne Porter
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 14:03:23

    If you have a Word .doc or .lit file, also consider Calibre.

    Most Word versions (with the exception of 2007) have a supported Read in Reader add-in to create .lit files. (RiR will work in 2007 with a little nudging, but forcing it takes options away from the end user)

    Calibre does a pretty decent job with .lit to .epub — better than Stanza Desktop as far as certain reflowable text formatting concerns go. Most validators don’t love files sourced from Word, but they do pass.

    You’ll find, too, that many epubs generate filtered html files from Word. We’ve done this in the past, but starting with all new releases in 2009, we will be making available a raw .html version that’s stripped down to xml compliant tags, and totally reflow-friendly.

    …and DRM is the devil. Hax ftw.

  7. Jane
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 21:51:53

    @Teddypig: I know I didn’t entirely make clear that this was for those who wanted to upload to the “Personal Content” area of either Stanza (via or

    You are absolutely right that the Stanza desktop program allows for fairly easy conversion of books and addition to your iPhone. However, if you want to use eReader (which I do think is the best iPhone reader out there), you have to convert to pdb.

    I have some problems with how Stanza converts a few of my books, but those are really minor. Overall, though, this series is designed to help people convert and use ebook software.

  8. Lisa
    Jan 12, 2009 @ 09:58:09

    I have folders and folders full of PDFs that I have created using adobe and that contain online stories and books I have found on the web. I have spent hours now trying to figure out how I can convrt these PDF files into PDB files that will work with ereader or stanza. I have noticed that the sites that offer their stories in multiple formats (one being for palm reader)–those will work for me. However when I have tried to convert my own PDFs into PDBs I can’t get anything to work? Is it suppose to be this hard to find a program that can convert PDF files into ereader PDB files?? Please help!

  9. Kindle Conversion Service | Kindle Formatting | Kindle Publishing
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 05:04:33 offers kindle eBook conversion service. We have expert skill to convert normally any format document to kindle eBook format. Find more about our eBook conversion service; Mobipocket eBook conversion, and MS Reader eBook conversion services.

  10. Roland Hughes
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 13:13:05

    Here is a question I don’t find answered in the blog entries: Which listing service do you find to be the best for listing an ePub format eBook?

    Logikal Solutions has recently released “Infinite Exposure” in eBook format. This book will follow the modern publishing model of being released in eBook first until sales reach a sufficient level to warrant putting out a hard cover version. It’s the best way to go green and a business model most publishing houses will have to adopt if they want to stay in business.

    “Infinite Exposure” is a story about how the off-shoring of IT jobs leads to the largest terrorist strike the free world has ever seen, and ultimately nuclear war. It is not a novel for people who like romance stories with happy endings.

    The book was written entirely in OpenOffice and converted to both ePub and Sony formats via Calibre. The Palm format was converted to PML via an OpenOffice plug in, then a nasty Windows box was used to layout the PML via the studio program. There are free promotional versions containing the first 18 chapters available.

    We have listed the book on the Sony site directly and the Palm version on eBookMall. We are currently looking for the best deal in putting up the ePub version for iPhone users. We have been in touch with Stanza, which has a $1000 setup fee in their contract on top of taking a cut from sales. A new service, PixelPapyrus wants $3000 and a 20% cut on top of what the Apple Store takes.

    What site carries ePub format and is the easiest to deal with ?


  11. Jane
    Feb 27, 2009 @ 21:11:33

    @Roland Hughes Roland, I think carries ePub format, but I’m not sure the ins and outs and whether you’d be able to submit it directly without a history of e-published work. Rosetta is the epublisher that bought Terry Goodkind’s rights. Overdrive is the biggest supplier of epub that I know of. They are a fulfillment service, though, and not a direct to consumer retailer.

  12. Robert McKay
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 09:52:13

    I tried to use the macro but when I used the button to list books for conversion I was asked for a PUBLISHEBOOK password???? Please help me as I am very interested in using this function.

  13. Lucy CHambers
    Apr 19, 2009 @ 12:39:16


  14. Rstrad
    May 13, 2009 @ 08:44:09

    I have a pdf and a apple computer. I want to take that book that is in PDF format and read it using my ereader on computer and itouch. How do I do this.

  15. Abdulelah Dandachi
    May 29, 2009 @ 15:21:47

    Terrific, thanks so much for putting up this guide!

  16. Nelson Robin
    Jun 04, 2009 @ 21:10:50

    Here’s a way to transfer PDF’s to an iPhone – converts them to EPUB and then sends them to your iPhone.

    Jun 20, 2009 @ 23:20:45

    hi. i tried to convert word to html it was succesful . but when i was about to finish creating pdb file it gave a fatal says there there were fatal errors in dropbook,try correcting your original document to avoid them.what do you recommend me ? pls help .tnx

  18. Jh
    Oct 28, 2009 @ 03:24:45

    This is a nice tip. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Thomas Staub
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 14:02:21

    Another way to read pdf (or docx) files on your phone is to convert them to ePub format and read them with the builtin ebook reader. Converting can be done with , a free online converter.

  20. Jpen
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 01:48:26

    Can’t download the PUBLISH eBOOk program…

  21. Richard
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 14:37:25

    Interesting article, but I used who converted and published my book for free. I’d defo recommend them

  22. transfer pdf files to iphone | Buy it!
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    […] How to Convert an eBook into eReader Format for the iPhone Using … Dec 14, 2008 … REVIEW: Convert Ms Reader Files into eBookwise …. Here's a way to transfer PDF's to an iPhone … […]

  23. Sorilla
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 14:23:55

    I successfully use free program called Calibre ( to convert my PDF books from my Ccomputer to EPub for my iPod/iPad/Kindle/Nook/Android or whatever!
    There is a specific choice for converting PDF to any listed above device and more. I just love it, thinking to donate some $ to developer ;).

    All the best,

    ~ Sorilla

  24. Bryce Collins
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 15:49:19

    Great article. I however am not however the best with computers and formatting my eBook was very hard. I really would recommend especially for people like me to get get there eBook formatting done by a eBook service company. I messed up on mine and the software was free but it took so long and it was so much easier and better when I had a company do it for me.

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