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High-quality PDF-to-EPUB conversion

Newgen's Silk Evolve is a powerful automation platform

How many times have you opened an ebook and noticed awkward hyphenations or other conversion errors? I still see this in the majority of the ebooks I buy and it’s clear these are the result of someone not paying attention during the conversion process. They may be minor annoyances but they reflect poorly on the publishers who produce them.

I recently had a chance to talk about this problem with Patrick Martinent, the CTO at Newgen KnowledgeWorks. They have a terrific platform called Silk Evolve that helps automate and reduce the errors when going from PDF to EPUB. The following Q&A is a preview to what you can expect to hear in Patrick’s session at next month’s TOC NY conference.


Tell us about Silk Evolve and why publishers need to know about it.

Silk Evolve is Newgen’s proprietary integrated product for high-quality, professional conversion of PDF to EPUB; operators with limited or no knowledge of EPUB, PDF, or HTML can produce EPUBs in less than one- tenth of the time that an expert would normally take.

Publishers always complain about lack of quality in the EPUB output format and issues such as hyphenation, word spacing, special characters, super scripting and sub scripting are much-publicized quality issues found in ebooks.

The key to getting the best quality output in the shortest possible time is in striking the right balance between automation and human judgment. The design theme of Silk Evolve is to automate as much as possible and to keep the operator focused only on those issues where his judgment is required, which in turn assures better quality and output.

What are some of the benefits Silk Evolve offers over other PDF-to-EPUB conversion tools?

There are many companies/products in the market that claim to have an automated solution, but these fall short in the aspect of quality and ability to handle complex books. Often, the generated EPUB needs hours of manual correction. This manual correction requires skilled people who are adept at HTML & CSS coding. Silk Evolve produces professional grade EPUB2 or EPUB3 books which very rarely require any further tweaking.

What user skills are required to become proficient with Silk Evolve?

As mentioned earlier, operators with limited or no knowledge of EPUB, PDF, or HTML can produce EPUBs in a fraction of the time required by an expert.

Does Silk Evolve fully support EPUB3 and are there ways for a user to leverage EPUB3 functionality via Silk Evolve that simply wouldn’t have been in the original PDF file?

Yes. Silk Evolve generates EPUB3-compatible files that implement many of the standard new features. In particular, the native audio and video support and images in PDFs can be converted to SVG for better scaling. Math equations are rendered as MathML 8.

The Silk Evolve process has two stages: automation and manual. How much content is typically converted without the need for much manual intervention?

With Silk Evolve, PDF is converted to EPUB not by one but by multiple cycles of automation and user review. Though this sounds more manual, it actually results in fewer errors. We call it inprocess review as the user gets a chance to review the result at each stage. In each cycle, Silk Evolve automates and accomplishes a clearly defined task. But while processing, there might be some complex or ambiguous situations where the program is not sure of its results. So, after automation, Silk Evolve will highlight only those areas the user needs to review. As mentioned before, the idea is to strike the right balance between automation and human judgment.

Does Silk Evolve learn the specifics of a particular book series so that manual steps on the first book can become automated in future ones from the same series?

Of course, that is why we call it Silk Evolve: first, it is an evolutionary platform which integrates our learning from tens of thousands of books converted; second, the operator is equipped with many semi-automatic routines that will allow her to deal with unexpected scenarios. Furthermore, it is possible for advanced operators to write some scripts that Silk Evolve can execute and make global changes in one go.

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Comments: 22

  1. You are right there are many cases where EPUB books has awkward hyphenations, that is why we launched our EPUB QA services (http://www.heliconbooks.com/article/epubqa)

  2. I can’t seem to find a way to download or purchase this software. I tried the developer’s website, Google(ing), etc. Can you post a link/way for this to be purchased/downloaded? Thanks!

    • Just Passing Through

      You can’t find a way to download or purchase the software because it’s not for sale. It’s a service. You have to buy each conversion. it’s not an “alternative to Calibre,” and this made me actually laugh out loud. You have no way of knowing whether it’s software, hardware, or 20 third-worlders making the edits. It’s basically a step-by-step, paint-by-numbers way for people without any knowledge to create ePUBs from PDF’s, but the basics aren’t any different.

  3. This is also a high-quality PDF to epub converter: http://kitpdf.com/. It’s free and it doesn’t require download. Useful stuff.

  4. In my opinion a PDF to ePub conversion should be in high quality only. Otherwise there would remain number of flaws. And a conversion should always remain flawless in respect of quality and may be quantity wise too. I think, if you visit http://www.datahouse.co.in/PDF-To-ePub-Conversion.aspx you will find more information

  5. Thomson PhyllisMarie

    Thank you share.Here see this link. He can tell you how to convert PDF to ePub on your iPhone http://www.ipubsoft.com/pdf-to-epub-converter-for-mac/convert-adobe-pdf-to-epub-on-mac.html step by step.

    • There is an even less expensive Adobe product which also works perfectly but is more difficult to find, thanks to Adobe’s annoying habit of trying to upsell versions of their products that do more than you need. It is a relatively low-cost annual subscription service called Adobe Export PDF. It can be found on:


      The British version costs a few pence under £13 a year (around $20). The main point is that it works well, producing Word documents that retain most of the original formatting and features.

  6. If the ebooks you own are in the .epub format, it is a better practise to convert them into PDF as it is very easy to share the ebooks with family members and friends through PDF document. Calibre is a fantastic tool to use for changing a books format, too, though I doubt that it can be done with a library book. I use it regularly to change formats and ‘clean’ up a book or add a cover when a file I have is stripped down to the basics. There are many diffierent between: PDF, ePub and iBooks: http://www.vibosoft.com/ebook/convert-pdf-to-epub-mac-windows.html

  7. I love how this becomes one giant spam board..

  8. Narendra Sannabhadti

    The challenge with desktop publishing softwares are related to workflow complexities related to version management, complex installations, regular upgrades and high amount of training costs. The ideal solution is a cloud based platform with an ability to convert content to fixed layout EPUB, KF8 automatically and being future ready for newer formats in the market. This short video explains how the ideal solution can be achieved http://goo.gl/0tCe3

  9. Yeah,This article
    can really help us. But here i use this ThL W11 Monkey King Smartphone
    5.0 Inch MTK6589T comes with a 5-inch display and as the above phones
    mentioned which from MoonarStore shopping.The phone is 16GB powered by
    Dual Cameras Core Processor. I have been you way and found it can easy read ped to ePub. Thank you ! Rescource:http://www.moonarstore.com/

  10. I just search a tool named iStonsoft, (http://www.istonsoft.com/pdf-to-epub-converter.html), it seem it can be able to convert PDF files to ePub with retaing the original layouts, you can have a look!

  11. Thank Yoy! I’ve downloaded the software to convert my PDF’s. SOmetimes My ebook doesn’t show well the pdf format.

  12. WOOW! An alternative to Calibre….I’ve used calibre in the past to convert my pdf’s but
    without success….I’m going to try this software. I’ve find a pdf ebook here (http://laxantesnaturales.com)
    and I wish to read it into my ebook but sometimes fails…..I don’t know why (perhaps it cost me $300).

    Thank you very much!

  13. PDF is an ideal file format for document distribution. But as an eBook
    format, PDF is not so good. PDF file is too big to read on small-screen
    devices, like iPhone 5, iPod touch or iPad mini. You have to adjust the
    PDF to the display and scroll back and forth to read the content.I always need to convert pdf to epub,so I use the Coolmuster to help me,with it,convert become more easy.

  14. Where is this product then?

  15. it does like a good pdf to epub converter, here is how to convert pd fto epub in the web browser . share with you http://www.rasteredge.com/how-to/csharp-imaging/pdf-converting/

  16. Here’s also an article about “how to transfer PDF to iPad“.

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