Pandoc is a great tool for converting a file in one markup format into another. This means we can use it to convert a file written in Markdown into an EPUB file that is supported by many e-readers.

Lets start by writting a very simple markdown file called example_ebook.md.

---
title:
- type: main
  text: Example Ebook
- type: subtitle
  text: An Ebook created from a Markdown file
creator:
- role: author
  text: David Sadler
publisher: Published by myself
---

This is an introduction.

# Chapter 1

This is the first paragraph of chapter 1.

This is the second paragraph of chapter 1.

Below is a list.

- Item One
- Item Two
- Item Three

# Chapter 2

This is the first paragraph of chapter 2.

This is the second paragraph of chapter 2.

# Chapter 3

This is the first paragraph of chapter 3.

This is the second paragraph of chapter 3.

Note that the file begins with a YAML metadata block that starts and ends with three hyphens (---). This allows you to specify EPUB metadata such as the title and author.

Converting this to EPUB is done by running pandoc.

$ pandoc example_ebook.md -t epub3 --toc -o example_ebook.epub

There are several options that need to be passed to pandoc.

  • example_ebook.md — This argument is the file that you are converting.
  • -t epub3 — Set the output format to be EPUB v3 book.
  • --toc — Include a table of contents in the output document. This will be derived from the H1 headers in the markdown.
  • -o example_ebook.epub — Tell pandoc to output the conversion to the named file instead of stdout.

You can now copy the file example_ebook.epub to any device that supports the format or use one of the many software readers such as Calibre. However, if you wish to read this on a Kindle device you will need to convert it to the Mobi format.

Amazon provides a command line tool called KindleGen that can convert our EPUB file into the Mobi format. After downloading the tool just run it as shown below.

$ kindlegen example_ebook.epub

This will create a file called example_ebook.mobi that you can copy to your Kindle to read.

There is a zip file available that contains all the example files.