[][src]Crate bookbinder

Create pdf or epub books from markdown.

Basic Example

use bookbinder::{BookSrc, BookSrcBuilder, create_epub, create_pdf, EpubOptions, LatexOptions};

let src = BookSrcBuilder::new("A Book")
    .author("A.N. Author")
    .add_mainmatter("# Greetings\n\n Hello world...")
let epub_options = EpubOptions::default();
let epub = create_epub(src.clone(), epub_options)
    .expect("Error producing epub");

let pdf_options = LatexOptions::default();
let pdf = create_pdf(src, pdf_options)
    .expect("Error producing pdf");

Why use this

There are plenty of options for creating books from markdown; in the Rust world, there's mdbook and crowbook; there's the amazing Pandoc in Haskell.

But these all tend to take Markdown constructs and turn them into books. This is great while it works, but books are complicated things. So, to take one simple example, a top-level markdown header (# Header) might represent a section, a chapter or a part depending on how a book is structured. Then it might need to be rendered with a label (Chapter 1: Header) or as a number alone (I or One or 1), or as a title alone (Header)...

If it looks more like # Foreword or # Appendix you've got another set of problems: in a proper book, these should display differently -- for example, page numbers in a foreword should probably be represented as roman numerals and any labels should refer to an appendix as Appendix A, not Chapter 23.

Then you've got other difficulties -- most books will want a titlepage and a titlepage verso (copyright page), and they'll often feature things like epigraphs or a dedication. All of these need special formatting, but you can't really extend markdown indefinitely to include them all, or before you know it you've recreated TEI without the rigour.

This crate relies on the insight that within a text divided into semantic roles, Markdown is an ideal solution -- you can say 'emphasise this text inside an epigraph' and all is well, but you can't say -- within Markdown itself -- 'this text is an epigraph'. Since there aren't that an infinite number of possible parts to books, and things like the epub structural semantics vocabulary already have a range of defined possibilities, it's relatively easy to set up a container which renders Markdown within a more complex semantic system.

And since some of these elements, like a titlepage or a copyright page, are pretty strictly the product of metadata, we further extend things so that they can be -- if you want -- generated automatically from the metadata which should already be included.

In other words, you can do this:

let introduction = "This is an introduction...";
let dedication = "This is dedicated to someone";
let foreword_with_custom_heading = "# A peculiar light\n\nForeword goes here...";
let mainmatter = "# Early Life\n\n## I am born\n\nThe day of my birth was a dark cold day...";

let src = BookSrcBuilder::new("A Book") // Start with a title
    .author("A.N. Author")
    .publisher("Publisher Name")
    .add_introduction(introduction, None, "Introduction Author")
    .add_foreword(foreword_with_custom_heading, None, vec!["First Foreword Author", "Second Foreword Author"])

And get a book with a titlepage and copyright information, semantically aware presentation of details, and just really nice aesthetics.

The example above would give you a halftitle, a titlepage, a copyright page explaining that this is copyright this year by A.N. Author and published by Publisher Name; then you'd get a sequence of frontmatter pages with niceties like roman page numbers, including an introduction with the header Introduction and a foreword with a nice label explaining it's a foreword but the header A Peculiar Light, as well as an unlabelled dedication which shows by its format (typically italicised text in a minipage, but you could specify otherwise) that it's a dedication. (Of course, if you wanted to avoid having things like a copyright page generated, or provide your own, that's easily done too!)

The mainmatter following would treat # Early Life as a part header, and # I am born as a chapter header, but if they'd both been top-level headers they would have both been treated as chapters (or if one was a second-level header and the other a third and there were no top-level headers, they would have been treated as chapters and sections.)

And so on. It's pretty cool.

But even better is that it's easy to change how these basic semantic constructs are represented -- if you just want to ignore whatever chapters are titled and call them One, Two and Three, you can just set an option to do that! If you want your pdf book to be all in A4 paper and set in Comic Sans, but with headers in Papyrus -- many things are possible, but only some are well-advised.

let options = LatexOptions::default()
    .use_words_for_chapter_labels() // this says 'Number chapters using words!'
    .only_number_chapters() // And actually, while you're about it, don't do anything *but* number chapters
    .set_serif_typeface("Comic Sans") // and set the main text in Comic Sans
    .set_heading_typeface("Papyrus") // and headers in Papyrus
    .set_papersize(PaperSize::A4Paper); // and an A4 book is a good size

A book can be produced just by combining the options which can be applied to a particular output format with a source created through BookSrcBuilder.

BookSrcBuilder lets you add a bewildering range of metadata (this was translated by a particular person, and someone else did the notes and gave an introduction, but the author was someone else again) and book elements (here's that introduction, here's the main text, here's a note by the translator).

Meanwhile, there are a range of options for changing how this source is rendered. The options for different formats differ because what we can do with different formats also differs -- there's no point changing page numbers when epubs don't have page numbers, but there's not much sense in setting the cover image of a pdf file which doesn't have covers!


This crate is meant to give an easy-to-use way to create nicely-formatted books which can handle quite granular complexity but shouldn't thrust that complexity on users who don't need it.

It would be great to hear feedback on ways to make the user experience simpler, or things which are missing!

Our Markdown

It's a slight exaggeration to say that we use simple Markdown -- actually, there are a couple of things books need which CommonMark doesn't have. So source strings or files are parsed using a markdown dialect, inspired by Pandoc, that

  • smartens straight quotes and replaces sequences of hyphens with appropriate dashes, and gives ellipses instead of ...
  • includes footnotes
  • includes sub and superscript

For full details, see extended_pulldown. Incidentally, an advantage of doing things this way is that it's very easy to build a pipeline arbitrary input format -> pandoc -> markdown -> bookbinder, so that books can be built from things like Word documents.

Technical details

We use a custom solution for bundling epubs, but pdf files are produced by calling XeLaTex through latexmk. So you'll need LaTex installed to make pdfs! Also, if you want to include images in pdf format, you'll need to have pdftocairo installed.

Architecturally, this crate is a very thin wrapper over:

  1. bookbinder_ast, which sets out an abstract book source, and
  2. bookbinder_epub and bookbinder_latex, which define how to render that source into a particular output format and the various options for such a rendering.

So for full details of how something works, you'd best look to the specific crate! This seperated design is intended to allow different backends to be added in future -- it'd be interesting to add a way to create an html book, and potentially an alternative way to produce pdfs could be valuable, since LaTeX is gorgeous but slow, and it's a big thing for people to install. The most likely candidates are an embedded version of either neatroff or SILE.


This crate includes two functions create_pdf_from_json and create_epub_from_json which support deserializing and rendering from input json rather than controlling the process through manually building objects.

The json used there represents a simplified format which offers a little less control over the process, primarily to make deserialization easier and more understandable.

For full details, see the deserialization module.





A processed book source ready to be rendered


The source for a particular book; essentially a way to create a BookSrc using a builder pattern.


Options for rendering as an epub


Options for generating a pdf through LaTeX



Errors possible while creating an epub


The numbering depth to use for section headings



Create an epub 3.2 from a BookSrc with the given options


Create an epub from a BookSrc with default options


Create a pdf from a BookSrc with the given options


Create a pdf from a BookSrc with default options