BookBuilder – Create Your Own PocketBible Books

Posted on: March 12th, 2015 by Craig Rairdin 2 Comments

BookBuilderIcon512Laridian BookBuilder gives PocketBible users the unique ability to convert virtually any electronic text into a book that can be read by PocketBible on any of our supported platforms. Whether you want to have access to any of the tens of thousands of public domain Bible reference texts you an find on the Web or you want to create original reference materials from your own studies of the Bible, BookBuilder gives you the ability to view them side-by-side with your other PocketBible Bibles and books using the same tools we use in-house to create the add-on Bibles and books you can buy at our site.

Laridian has long had a commitment to creating an open ebook ecosystem, starting with our founders’ involvement in the creation of the only industry-wide binary standard for Bible software, the Standard Template for Electronic Publishing (STEP) in 1995, and in the definition of the Open eBook Publication Structure (OEBPS) in 1999, which later became EPUB. When it became clear that a common binary standard for Christian publishing was politically impossible and that OEBPS/EPUB wasn’t interested in extensions to support Bibles and Bible reference materials, Laridian went in a different direction: Releasing as a commercial product the tools needed to create electronic books for its readers.

While most Bible software companies provide some method for Christian publishers to convert large quantities of text to their proprietary format (often for thousands of dollars per title), Laridian is one of the few (maybe the only) commercial Bible software companies to offer an end-to-end publishing solution for everyone from individual PocketBible users to multinational Christian publishing houses — and to do it for only $49.99.

BookBuilder is available for both Windows (desktop) and now for Mac OS X. The Standard edition ($19.99) contains the ability to convert tagged text to a Laridian Book for personal use. The Professional edition adds two additional tools, DocAnalyzer and VerseLinker, and gives you the option of creating a book that can be sold or given away to other PocketBible users (including hosting your book on our server for easy distribution to users of our iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows Store, and Mac OS X versions of PocketBible who download books from within the program). In addition, the Mac version allows users to launch PocketBible on each successful build of their book for easier proofreading.

User-created books live side-by-side with Laridian PocketBible reference books and have all the same features as the books you purchase from our site. You can do sophisticated word and phrase searches, synchronize your user-created commentary to scroll alongside your Bible, look up words in your own dictionary, link to the Bible or other reference books from within your books, etc.

As an individual user of PocketBible, you might consider these uses for BookBuilder:

  • Convert your PocketBible notes into a commentary. You can log into your account at our website and download a fully tagged version of your Bible notes that is ready to be converted into a commentary for PocketBible. You only need the Standard edition of BookBuilder to do this.
  • Convert reference material you find on the Web into a PocketBible book. This could be anything from your pastor’s sermons to classic Christian reference material that is in the public domain. The Standard edition of BookBuilder will work for this, though the additional tools in the Professional edition come in handy when working with files that you did not originally author using the BookBuilder tagging format.
  • Create books for distribution to others either for free or at a price of your choosing. Unlike other Christian ebook publishing solutions, there is no royalty paid to Laridian on sales or distribution of your books. You’ll need the Professional edition to do this. Note that this doesn’t mean that Laridian will sell your books, but rather that you can sell them. You can host them on our server for easy distribution, but they don’t show up in our catalog.

Books you create for PocketBible have to contain special tags that tell us how to format the book. The basic tags are what you would recognize from HTML: <b>…</b> for bold, <p> and </p> around paragraphs, etc. To those we add some special tags to tell PocketBible what kind of book it is (commentary, dictionary, etc.) and to define the book’s table of contents (which we do using HTML heading tags, not a separate table-of-contents file as you might see in some other electronic publishing formats). You do all this using your own text editor, then run the text through BookBuilder to create a Laridian Book (LBK) file. This file is then copied to the appropriate location on your device or desktop computer so that PocketBible can find it.

If you’re going to distribute your books, you’ll need the Professional version of BookBuilder. Once your book is finished and proofed, you send it to us and we’ll assign it a unique publisher ID and book ID so that it can co-exist with other books in users’ Laridian library without interfering with other books there. We’ll host it on our server and tell you how to authorize other PocketBible users to download it. This authorization is normally done manually (you log into your account and manage your books from there) or it can be automated if you have the ability to write the appropriate script for your website to send us a special command via HTTP POST. It should be noted that most people can’t do this. Generally if you’re not already confident you can do this as you read this, you can’t. But the capability is there if you need it.

You can read more about BookBuilder here:

Here’s an introduction to the Mac OS X version of BookBuilder:

I record these videos in my kitchen; hence the folk art painting in the background. 🙂

2 Responses

  1. Bruce Gilliland says:

    Having created a number of books using Bookbuilder Pro for Windows, I can said that it is a very useful tool. I have created “books” with Bible readings for extended Bible study courses, lists of readings for Lent, as well as for several commentaries.

    But I can also say that it does take some work. You MUST read the Help document thoroughly even if you are familiar with HTML tagging. And if you are not familiar with HTML tagging, you are going to need some introductory tutorial. One good way to start is to study the sample files that come with the program. You can see how tags are used.

    As to source files, an HTML file will be okay, but note that HTML files generated from documents such as a Microsoft Word document will contain too much HTML garbage, causing probems for Bookbuilder.

    You will need a good text editor, not a word processor, to prepare the file. Some editors work with HTML files. Although Bookbuilder can process a text file, I save my source files as HTML files. This allows you to see the semi-finished product in a browser. (The Laridian-specific tags will not show there however.)

    The new Doc Analyzer feature is nice. I wish it was available in the Windows version several years ago. Oddball characters in an HTML or text file would shut down Bookbuilder in a heartbeat. For example, I would have to replace the slanted apostrophe/single quote mark with the more generic straight quote mark. It could take me a long time to track where the problem occurred. Learn to use the error log file that is generated each time Bookbuilder is run.

    One feature in the current Windows Bookbuilder can take an old source file from an earlier version of Bookbuilder and update the tag syntax. That was useful in updating some old books I had done.

    Be careful in assigning book ID numbers. After about 20 books, I was not keeping up with my IDs and I managed to “replace” an existing book with the new book because I used the same ID twice.

    The books I have created work well with PB Windows Desktop, PB on my Android devices and PB for my iPad. Getting the LBK files on to my Android devices is relatively easy. I use Dropbox to make them available and copy them to the appropriate location where my regular books are located. (This can differ depending on the memory setup for your device and the location selected in the PB Settings.) Getting the files onto my iPad is a little trickier. It requires using iTunes on the PC. Michelle was able to help me with the details.

    Personal books work like any other book with Bible links, searching, book syncing, etc. The Bible links do require some work to set up. This is where the tutorials and sample files come in handy.

    In working with long text files, I had to develop some techniques for automating the process. I was able to use a spreadsheet and copy and paste methods to insert similar tags quickly. It took me a while to develop this process, but it was the only way I could do a long book in a reasonable time.

    • Craig Rairdin says:

      I’ve updated the User’s Guide in the Mac version to expand on the topics you mentioned. It was almost funny going through your comment because you make every point that I expound on in the help — HTML files generated from Word are not helpful; use a text editor (like TextWrangler or BBEdit on the Mac), not a word processor; “slanted apostrophe” and “curly quotes; use the log file; read the help for each reader to figure out how to install books.

      We use some scripting tools here that allow us apply complex search-and-replace functions to the file. The tool we use on Windows is very user-unfriendly and I don’t even want to try to document and support it, so it’s never made it into the BookBuilder suite. You could script your text editor and accomplish the same thing.

      BookBuilder is not a drag-n-drop, plug-n-play, point-n-shoot process. But once you figure out how to tag books (some HTML skills plus knowing a few Laridian tags) it’s pretty easy to do. Like you mentioned, looking at the samples and reading through the documentation is a really good idea.

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