I am looking for an easy to use editor that provides a WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) interface. I know that you can import a Microsoft Word document into Calibre, but I would prefer to be able to edit an ePUB book using a robust editor. Does something like this exist?

up vote 25 down vote accepted

When someone asks me what GUI to use I suggest Sigil. I find with Sigil, unlike it's alternatives, it does not add unneeded code to your ePubs which causes bloating, errors, and slower viewing on devices:

enter image description here

Man page on github

  • Sigil is back in development? I thought it was dormant. The github has commits though... You're spot on RE Sigil. – Paulb Sep 26 '15 at 15:57
  • Updated Sigil link. – Bulrush May 4 '16 at 15:38

Calibre comes with an integrated editor that can handle epub and azw3 (Kindle) files.
It has a set of features comparable to Sigil, maybe even more complete; I think that it is also more actively maintained.
A manual and an introductory video are available on Calibre website

enter image description here

Calibre main program also has some minor tweaking capabilities, like editing the Table of Contents or automatically cleaning ebooks, and its functionality can be extended by plugins that provide even more options.

Papyrus (http://papyruseditor.com) is a WYSIWYG editor for ebooks.

You can edit your book in WYSIWYG interface Payrus WYSWYG editor

Also, You can create your ebook cover right inside the editor enter image description here

Disclosure: I am the creator of this website.

  • 2
    Welcome to the site. I hope you continue to participate here as I am sure your knowledge will allow you to contribute to the community. – Chad Dec 27 '13 at 19:23

Brackets.io

As a suggestion, I have been enjoying using Brackets to create epubs on my Mac.

Brackets.io Screenshot

Procedure

  1. Unarchive your epub into a folder (change the extension to .zip, and extract).
  2. Open Brackets, and go to File -> Open Folder. Select your extracted epub folder.
  3. Edit any of your HTML and CSS files!
  4. Activate Live Preview to view the ebook in Chrome! The preview will change as you type. (Not totally accurate rendering, compared to how it'll look on an eReader, but suitable.)

Why do this? Because Brackets has some pretty neat features. For example, if you're going through your HTML and you decide you want to change the style on something, just highlight the tag or the class attribute and activate Quick Edit (Cmd+E on OSX) and you can immediately edit the CSS styles, even if it's in a different file! Super convenient.

Caveat

One note: if you open the .opf or .ncx files, you will notice that there is no syntax highlighting. To fix this, as covered here, go to Debug -> Open Preferences File and add these as XML types within the JSON structure. For example, here is my preferences file:

{
    "useTabChar": false,
    "tabSize": 4,
    "spaceUnits": 4,
    "closeBrackets": false,
    "showLineNumbers": true,
    "styleActiveLine": true,
    "wordWrap": true,
    "linting.enabled": true,
    "linting.collapsed": false,
    "quickview.enabled": true,
    "debug.showErrorsInStatusBar": false,
    "language.fileExtensions":{
        "opf": "xml",
        "ncx": "xml"
    }
}

Version Control

Being a programmer at heart, version control is appealing to me, even when dealing with ebooks! I use Git for that. The thing with applying version control to an epub file is that an epub is a binary zip archive, so Git would not be able to differentiate between changes to the files if you edit the epub with something like Sigil.

When you're working with the epub exploded, using Brackets, you can use Git to apply version control to what you're doing.

Why do I make this point? Well, mostly to point out that there's a silver lining to the fact that you have to work with the epub exploded if you want to use Brackets.

Generating EPUBs

Edited with new method!

When I want to generate an epub file out of my folder structure, I use a simple Applescript file (remember I'm on OSX) that I found to do this. The essence of the process is creating a zip archive out of the folder and then changing the extension to "epub", but there are some potential issues.

There's an article called Unzip and Zip EPUB files safely with these AppleScripts, which links to a MobileRead thread, in which a fellow named Dan Rodney gives the scripts. Here is a direct link.

I stuck the creation script in my Finder toolbar for easy access, and I changed the icon (detailed here) to an epub logo (with transparent background) that I found on Google Images. So I just highlight the folder in Finder, click the button, and I have an epub!

Validation

Bonus section! Nothing to do with a WYSIWYG editor per se, but validation is important if you're going to be hacking around and editing your epub file by hand!

In terms of validation, EpubCheck is one of the industry standards, and I would suggest using one of the GUI incarnations. The Pagina version works great for me; stick it in the OSX dock and just drag epubs onto it to get a report.

Fin.

  • I love Brackets. Thanks for this mini tutorial! – Tony Brasunas Sep 30 '17 at 2:19

I have never tried this...but have heard good things about Scrivener

What differentiates from other products here are the productivity tools for writers:

  • outlining
  • story boarding
  • stores text snips
  • manuscript formatting

Note I am not in anyway affiliated with Scrivener.

  • One-line answers that provide slightly more than a link are not very well received here; you should at least briefly describe this program (even by quoting its website); please refer to the help center; furthermore, if by chance you are somewhat affiliated with the link you are providing, we appreciate a disclosure about that (see gt5050's answer to this question) – Sekhemty Sep 29 '15 at 10:30
  • Scribbler is quote "Scrivener itself is not an e-book editor, even though it can produce e-books via its compilation process." scrivener.tenderapp.com/help/kb/general-qa/working-with-e-books – Mark Apr 20 '16 at 14:51

LibreOffice (free) also has an extension Write2xhtml to write EPUB files. CAUTION: make sure your epub validates here before sending it to a publisher.

LibreOffice is for Linux, Mac OSX, and Windows.

You may also try Nevron Writer - http://www.nevronoffice.com - it allows you to read / write ebpub, rtf, docx, txt and html files using the familiar MS Word like interface.

Disclaimer: I am the CEO of the company that makes Nevron Writer.

  • Welcome to the site! Please note that we require users to disclose their affiliation with any products or tools that they mention. I've edited your question to include such a disclaimer. – Ed Cottrell Apr 20 '16 at 4:37

If your primary goal is to edit eBooks I would use Sigil. It is simple and straight forward. You can quickly switch between the WISWIG and html editor.

I have tried Calibre (he pronounces it Caliber). It has a lot of options and is very good if you want metadata for all the stuff that has nothing to do with reading a book - author, publisher, published date, rating, synopsis, etc.

The reason I will not use Calibre is because of the directory structure. It will not work with your existing eBooks folder and needs an empty folder in which it duplicates every book.

Not only does it duplicate every file but it creates hundreds of folders and sub folders. Calibre makes the assumption that files are named with the convention Title - LastName, FirstName. So when it imported my library it created directories with the wrong names. There is a setting to change this, so you should do that before importing your library.

In my opinion Calibre is good as an eBook reader and library and if you need to sort and search and you want metadata.

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