Find Your Ideal E-Book Conversion Company

Mar 28

At this moment, with New Publishing quickly gaining ground over the old, there are two favorite self-publishing routes for first-timers. One is to use a print-on-demand firm (essentially an Internet packager) like iUniverse, xlibris, or lulu. But because many of these firms don’t give you much control, often writers prefer multi-service printing companies who also offer e-book conversion services—for example, Lightning Source (owned by Ingram) and CreateSpace (owned by Amazon).  This choice is a no-brainer because in addition you automatically get broad distribution.


In preparing a book for publication, a self-publisher does well to organize both the print version and the e-book version at the same time, even if you plan to begin with one or the other. Expert cover and interior designers will be equipped to handle both versions, knowing in advance the path will be to print with either Lightning Source or CreateSpace.


However, because they are basically printers and they handle all the pieces, Lightning Source and CreateSpace are a good choice for self-publishers who are starting from scratch. But what if:


  • You want to go straight to the e-book format, which is faster and cheaper?
  • What if you already have a print book and want to turn that into an e-book?
  • What if you already offer a PDF of your book on your website?
  • And what if, considering that the Kindle accounts for 60% of all e-book sales, you're ready to take the leap and make it available on the Kindle and in the ePub format for Nook, Kobo, Sony e-readers, etc?


Here's where independent e-book converters come in. Heaps of e-book conversion companies are springing up, and it's my desire to sort out a handful of trustworthy ones. Smashwords is a great example. They offer distribution in addition to free conversion. The only problem is that they prefer converting straight-text Word documents. So if what you have is nonfiction with visual elements like graphics and tables, you'll need to look elsewhere.


What about eBook Architects? In my last post, "5 Steps To E-Book Conversion," I received lots of positive feedback about several firms, including BookBaby, eBook Architects, and InstantPublisher. Do these offer the distribution you need? When researching the various companies, consider your needs and determine how close they come to providing the entire book printing/marketing/distribution process that you’re looking for.


At the moment, I am converting a nonfiction PDF (a more labor-intensive process than fiction because all the formatting needs to be reproduced correctly) with, and so far I am very pleased with their service. However, it's an e-book conversion from a PDF (which resides already on one of my websites,, converting to an ePub and a Mobi (Kindle), so it is not starting from scratch. I will let you know if makes my final list!


Who are your favorite e-book converters? Please let me know. My intention is to narrow the list down to a trustworthy five for my book publishing clients. Thanks for your input!

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  1. Thanks, Maggie. Good stuff. I've had a wonderful experience with CDBaby to handle distribution of music CDs, and have every reason to believe they'll be great at books with BookBaby. BUT, does anyone remember the DEC Rainbow? In the early days of personal computers it was a MUCH better product than the IBM PC or the Compaq. And if you bought one, you were ultimately stuck with a door-stop as the market went in a different direction. Same with WordPerfect vs. Word.

    My manuscript is getting its final polishing and the designer will be giving me a PDF file (among others), so I can go anywhere. My heart says BookBaby; my business-brain says CreateSpace.

    • Maggie Lichtenberg /

      Barry, thanks very much for these thoughts. Is your hesitency regarding BookBaby vs. Amazon that BookBaby wouldn't have a powerful distribution network?

  2. Thanks, Maggie, for this post. It's great timing for me. I'm very curious to learn more about your experience with and to hear more about the other companies you're checking out.

    For the ebooks I've worked on so far, I've used Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing via a LiberWriter conversion. However, I have two clients with children's picture books and an illustrated nonfiction book I'm currently finishing myself. I've been following Smashwords' recommendations to insert art in Word as In Line with Text, though that will probably too limited for many future projects.

    • Maggie Lichtenberg /

      Hi Lana,

      My experience with has been excellent so far, though my challenge for them is PDF conversion. I see now why PDFs are far more complex than converting straight Word content, and why Smashwords doesn't choose to convert PDFs! has been taking a lot of time with me, explaining things in detailed email and generally being very responsive. I think BookNook mainly converts fiction, but they are enthusiastic about more heavily formatted non-fiction books as well. What is your role with your clients, what services do you offer?

      • Thanks for asking, Maggie.

        I've been editing books for publishers and individual authors for years, frequently also providing camera-ready copy for printing. The last couple of years have brought more clients who want to publish by POD. Last year I began preparing ebook files for submission to Kindle and Smashwords.

        I do publishing consultations as well, primarily to help authors decide which route to take and doing a bit of hand holding during the development of their books.

  3. I use Deena at eBook Builders………..she specializing in those hard to format books…….check her out below……..she has a very information packed blog as well……..

  4. Maggie,
    Would love to know your outcome with
    Was the service satisfactory?


    Theresa Michna

    • Maggie Lichtenberg /

      Theresa, yes my experience with was most satisfactory. I would add that the book I converted was a non-fiction trade book, so therefore far more complex than just straight prose fiction. Some conversion companies won't touch non-fiction because it's a bigger challenge. What is it you're looking to convert?

      • ornella /

        hi maggie
        i have written a non fiction book about fashion which contains most of my fashion designs could handle such book? or could you recomend me to any other,

        • Maggie Lichtenberg /

          Ornella, I'm not sure, so I would contact the owner of, Kimberly Hitchens, and discuss exactly what you have with her. Good luck, and keep me posted!