Converting RPG PDFs to ebook Formats for Free
I’ve downloaded several dozen RPG PDFs over the last year — some for free and some for money. I’ve always wanted to be able to read them on my Nook. However, reading standard-sized PDFs on a Nook is an awful experience. It’s even worse if the PDF has multiple columns. I’ve tried programs like Calibre that allow you to convert PDFs to epub and other ebook formats, but the resulting ebook files were generally unusable. This was especially true of multi-column PDFs as the converters ignored the columns assuming everything on one line (no matter how many columns) belonged together. I gave up.
A week or so ago, I stumbled across the free Mobipocket Reader Desktop. I had not noticed this program before as it converts PDFs to the mobi format (the Kindles’s format?). However, I tried it and it converts multi-column PDFs intelligently (for the most part) and produces fairly readable mobi files which I can then convert to epub format with Calibre.
There are limitations, however. Obviously, it can’t do much with PDFs what are simply pictures of the text pages — like some scan PDFs of very old material. The text has to be present as text in the PDF for conversion to have a chance. Also, it does not handle pull quotes or sidebars all that well. I just plugs them in wherever they fall in the column/text sequence. This can made reading ebook files converted from PDFs with sidebars and pull quotes something of a pain as you suddenly go from text to the pull quote or sidebar then back to the main text without any warning. Also, as usual, tables do not convert well at all.
However, I’m now able to read much of Labyrinth Lord (the first few pages did are unreadable, but everything else is workable, weird), Adventurer Conqueror King, and Fantasy Craft on my Nook. I’ll be trying other PDFs as I get a chance. Again, this isn’t perfect, but it is free and it works better than anything else I’ve tried. Until publishers start releasing ebook versions of their products, this will help.