I'm asked this often because the truth is, making an eBook from a PDF is quite expensive. As it's time-consuming and labor-intensive.  People think that's nuts--that they can see that option, right there in Adobe Acrobat or PDF 995 or whatever PDF reader software that they're using, that says "export file to Word" or "export to HTML" or from GoogleDocs, "export to ePUB" and they think, "well, hell, how hard can it be?" 

The answer is--very.

The actual steps for us to make an ebook from a PDF are:

  1.  We scan the PDF, using AbbyyFineReader commercial scanning software.
  2. We OCR the PDF, also using Abbyy.
  3. When we're done with that step, we have a raw scan output Word file.  This Word file has the same page layout and page breaks as the original PDF.  That's important and you'll see why in a moment. 
  4. That Word file is full of red-marked/lettered text.  That text indicates where Abbyy suggests that there's a scanning error.
  5. We go through, fixing all of those, checking them against the original pdf.
  6.  When we've completed that step, we export that edited Word file to PDF format.  
  7. We then run a COMPARE program, that compares the original PDF ("PDF1") with this new, from-the-Word-file-PDF ("PDF2").
  8. We check and correct every single comparison "twig" that says that there's something different between PDF1 and PDF2.
  9. Then we take the revised Word file, and export another PDF.
  10. We export another PDF (PDF 3), and,
  11. Yup, we run a comparison, now, between PDF3 and PDF1.
  12. If we get more compare discrepancies, we lather-rinse-repeat, correcting those discrepancies in the Word file, from the original PDF.
  13. And we continue this process, over and over, until there are no discrepancy reports between PDFx and PDF1.  
  14. At that point--we are finally ready to start the eBook formatting process, which means we start by cleaning the "new" Word file, exporting it to HTML and starting at the same place that we would have been, if we'd had a Word file to start with.

And that is why, especially for very long, complexly-laid out PDFs, formatting into an eBook is so expensive.  The automatic "export to Word" functions, either from Acrobat, other PDF software or those online websites are all full of utter nonsense.  What comes out looks okay on the surface, but it's broken underneath--where eBooks live.

Heck, don't believe me--export your PDF into Word and then upload that at the KDP, and preview the resulting eBook.  Horrified? Yup, that's how that goes.  Trust me, we don't do this for fun!  If there were a faster, cheaper way to do this right--making ebooks from PDFs--I can assure you, we'd be the very first people to use it!

T'was the Night Before Christmas... 

 (With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, may he forgive my doggerel...)

...and all through the shop,
all we minions were working,
   until ready to drop.

The ebooks were flying,
the covers were spare,
The edits were crazy,
   with "one more thing I must share!"

We waited for Santa,
'Cuz we love old Saint Nick,
But Hitch made us work,
   Waving 'round an old stick!

So slave we all did,
And made all your books,
So that Hitch would say now,
   that we're off the hook.

Come today we're off,
to rest up our fingers,
Our hats we will doff,
   No books they do linger.

But we'll all be back,
Don't give it a thought,
for like all wage slaves,
   we're easily bought.

We'll be back on the fifth,
all eager and fresh,
All ready for you,
   after a well-deserved rest.

So Hitch wants to say,
very strongly and loud,
  you're the best type of crowd.

Indy and Len and Hitch and the gang,
will be back on the 5th,
to do books with a BANG!

In the meantime don't worry,
if you're in a hurry,
'cuz some poor guy got stuck
   sitting here like a duck.

Your emails we'll receive,
so no need to grieve.
We'll be a bit slow,
but we're raring to go.

Your books will be worked on,
your edits still made,
we're just resting a bit,
   before we all fade.

So please excuse the delays;
It won't be for days;
we'll jump on your queries,
   for your wondrous new series.

We waited for Santa,
'Cuz we love old St. Nick,
And sure 'nuff he came,
   It wasn't a trick.

And as he rode off,
into the night,
I could swear I heard Hitch yell,
   "That Edit's Not Right!"


We'll be back on the morning of January 5th; we'll be here parttime between now and then, thanks.