I thought I'd start a discussion of some of the tools for creating an ePub file from a word processor document for people who want to self-publish ePub books or create them from your own files.

Long ago, when ePub was still the Open Ebook format, I used to hand-code the book using BBEdit Pro. I still use BBEdit Pro for tweaking (the free sister of BBEdit TextWrangler can do the same thing, but it lacks the very handy tools palette; still, if you're on a Mac TextWrangler is a fabulous text editor for using GREP or tweaking files using the powerful search and replace options).

I want to recommend a book: Liz Castro's Epub: Straight to the Point. It's from Peachpit Press, but you can also buy an ePub version from Ms. Castro's site. Her blog is a good source of updated information about ePub.

Apple's Pages the iWork wordprocessor/document layout program does a clean and very easy conversion from Pages to ePub via Share -->Export. Apple even provides a free template and instructions for creating ePub books.

Pages works very well if you have a fairly simple ePub book. It's a good way to get an ePub bundle (ePub documents are really a bundle of files) that you want to tweak by hand.

Lately, I've been using Scrivener 2.x for Mac to create ePubs; it's a simple export, and Scrivener allows you to make some nify and very professional styles in your ePub without hand-editing CSS or xml/html.

ePub Reader is a free Firefox plug in designing to allow you to read ePub books in your browser. It's a great way to do a quick check to get an idea of how an ePub book will look on the screen. It also creates a "library"--which allows you to look at an "exploded" or un-bundled ePub and see how a book was made, or access the CSS to modify it.

Calibre is a free multi-platform ebook conversion tool that handles ePub quite well; it can be complicated, there are lots of options, but it can do a very good job.

Stanza is a reader, but it too is awfully useful and multiplatform. Stanza for computers does epub conversions.