zapzi - a tool to store articles and publish them as eBooks to read later


version 0.017


  $ zapzi init
  Created Zapzi directory ~/.zapzi

  Select configuration options. Press enter to accept defaults.
  Format to publish eBooks in. (EPUB, MOBI or HTML) [default MOBI] : MOBI

  $ zapzi add ~/src/foo/README.txt
  Added article 2 to folder Inbox

  $ zapzi add
  Added article 3 to folder Inbox

  $ zapzi ls
  Inbox    1 05-Jul-2013 Welcome to Zapzi
  Inbox    2 05-Jul-2013 README for project foo
  Inbox    3 05-Jul-2013 perlintro -

  $ zapzi publish
  Published ~/.zapzi/ebooks/Zapzi - Inbox -

  # See USAGE below for more details on command line options.


Zapzi is a command line tool to take articles - from files or from the web - and create eBooks for reading later.


  • Can read articles from local files or via HTTP.

  • Understands plain text, POD, HTML and Markdown format articles.

  • HTML is converted to a more readable form (eg no menus or footers) to make the article easier to view on an eReader.

  • Articles can be stored in different folders to organise your reading.

  • eBooks can be created in MOBI, EPUB or HTML format.

  • eBooks can be automatically copied to a directory or emailed when published.

  • Once you publish a folder of articles to an eBook file, the articles are archived so you can retrieve them later if needed.


To get started, type:

  $ zapzi init

and it will create a directory (by default ~/.zapzi) to store its database and files. You can override this directory by setting the environment variable ZAPZI_DIR.

Zapzi will then prompt for configuration options such as preferred format for publishing eBooks. If you run this command non-interactively it will use defaults.

To view or change these options see CONFIGURATION for further details.


To add an article, use zapzi add with a filename on your computer, the name of a module containing POD (eg File::Basename) or an HTTP URL. Remember to quote URLs if they include space or shell special characters, eg

  $ zapzi add ''

Zapzi will download a copy and store it in its database. Note that if you need to log into a site this will not work - save a copy of the page locally using your browser and then point Zapzi at the file.


By default, Zapzi will detect the file type and if it is HTML it will use HTML::ExtractMain to strip out non-essential parts of the page such as menus. Other formats are treated as plain text with Markdown.

You can override this by setting the -t option to add. For example, if HTMLExtractMain does not correctly determine which parts of the article are readable you can get the complete HTML text instead:

  $ zapzi add -t HTML ''


By default, Zapzi will store articles in the 'Inbox' folder. This can be changed by using the -f option, eg

  $ zapzi add -f Foo project.txt

In order to use other folders you will need to create them first using the make-folder or mkf command, eg

  $ zapzi make-folder Foo

Folders can be deleted with the delete-folder or rd command. Note that this will also delete all articles in the folder.

To see a summary of your folders and how many articles are in them use the list-folders or lsf command.

  $ zapzi lsf

  Inbox        2
  Archive      4
  Foo          1

To see a summary of a particular folder, use list or ls:

  $ zapzi ls -f Foo
  Foo      1 05-Jul-2013 Project readme

Use the -l option to ls to get a more detailed listing.

You can delete articles with zapzi rm and move articles between folders with zapzi mv, for example:

  $ zapzi rm 10                 # remove article 10 from the database
  $ zapzi mv 12 13 Foo          # move articles 12 and 13 to folder Foo


To create an eBook, run zapzi publish or zapzi pub. By default this will publish articles from the Inbox folder; use the -f option to select another folder.

You can specify the format of the eBook with the --format switch. Options are:

  • MOBI (the default)

  • EPUB

  • HTML (a single HTML file containing all the articles)

You can also set the encoding with --encoding but Zapzi will normally set this correctly based on the content and publication format.

If everything worked OK, Zapzi will create a new eBook in the ebooks sub-directory of your Zapzi directory, eg ~/.zapzi/ebooks.

If you have set distribution options, it will also run these at this time. See the next section for more information.

When you publish a folder, the articles are moved to the Archive folder unless you set the --noarchive option.


When an eBook is published, Zapzi can run an action on the completed file by setting distribution options. The following distribution methods are available:

  • Copy - will copy the file to another directory or file

  • Email - will email the file to a recipient

  • Script - will run a script with the eBook as a parameter

  • Nothing - will do no distribution (the default)

To use this at publication time, set the --distribute or -d option to the publish command. Some examples:

  $ zapzi publish -d copy /path/to/directory
  $ zapzi publish -d email
  $ zapzi publish -d script /home/user/bin/

To set this up so distribution happens every time you publish without needing to provide the -d command line option, set the distribution_method and distribution_destination config parameters. See the Configuration section below for more details.

For email distribution, the From address used will be the same as the To address. You can override this by setting the EMAIL_SENDER_TRANSPORT_from environment variable. By default, email will be sent via the local sendmail service on your machine; if you want to send by SMTP set the EMAIL_SENDER_TRANSPORT environment variable to SMTP and configure the below environment variables as appropriate. You can also set any other options documented by Email::Sender.

EMAIL_SENDER_TRANSPORT_host: the name of the host to connect to; defaults to localhost
EMAIL_SENDER_TRANSPORT_ssl: if set, connect via SSL; defaults to false
EMAIL_SENDER_TRANSPORT_port: port to connect to; defaults to 25 for non-SSL, 465 for SSL
EMAIL_SENDER_TRANSPORT_timeout: maximum time in secs to wait for server; default is 120
EMAIL_SENDER_TRANSPORT_sasl_username: the username to use for auth; optional
EMAIL_SENDER_TRANSPORT_sasl_password: the password to use for auth; required if username is provided


Instead of publishing, if you want to see a copy of an article use zapzi show to view the article in a browser or zapzi export to send a copy of the readable article to the standard output. Both these commands will not archive the article.

You can chain together adding and showing, eg

  $ zapzi add show

will add a copy of to the database and then open a browser to show how it looks in readable format.


Bugs and requested issues can be reported at Github. Pull requests are also very welcome; please try to follow the existing style and organisation of the module.


  • Improve text extraction and formatting - complex pages may not render correctly or may miss sections at present

  • Support other ways to fetch articles, eg FTP or IMAP for email.

  • Support other article formats, eg mbox/maildir.

  • Add the ability to read sources with state, eg RSS feeds.

  • Publish to other eBook formats such as PDF.


Zapzi comes from the Chinese word 雜誌, meaning magazine. It is pronounced ZAAP-zi in Cantonese.


To view or change configuration variables use the config get or config set commands, eg:

  $ zapzi config get                      # to see all set variables
  $ zapzi config get publish_format       # to see one variable
  $ zapzi config set publish_format EPUB  # to set a variable

The following configuration variables are available


The eBook format Zapzi will use when running the publish command. Default is MOBI; can be set to EPUB or HTML.


The encoding used to create an eBook when running the publish command. Default is unset, which means Zapzi will choose the best encoding for the publication format. Can be set to UTF-8 or ISO-8859-1.


The method used to automatically distribute published eBook files. Can be either 'Copy', 'Script' or 'Nothing'. Default is 'Nothing'.


Where to distribute published eBook files. If distribution_method is set to 'Copy' then this should be a directory name. If the method is 'Script' this should the the full path to an executable script. If the method is 'Email' then this should be the recipient's email address.

If set to Y, will replace links with text when using the HTMLExtractMain transformer. Motivation for this is eReaders with touch screens where tapping the screen will turn the page, unless you happen to touch a link in which case it will try to follow the link in a web browser. This can be annoying if you are offline as it will load the browser then ask if you want to go online.


  $ zapzi help | h
    Shows this help text.

  $ zapzi version | v
    Shows version information.

  $ zapzi init [--force]
    Initialises new zapzi database. Will not create a new database
    if one exists already unless you set --force.

  $ zapzi config get [KEYS]
    Prints configuration variables specified by KEYS, or all config
    variables if KEYS not provided.

  $ zapzi config set KEY VALUE
    Set configuration variable KEY to VALUE.

  $ zapzi add [-t TRANSFORMER] FILE | URL | POD
    Adds article to database. Accepts multiple file names or URLs.
    TRANSFORMER determines how to extract the text from the article
    and can be HTML, HTMLExtractMain, POD or TextMarkdown
    If not specified, Zapzi will choose the best option based on the
    content type of the article.

  $ zapzi list | ls [-f FOLDER] [-l | --long]
    Lists articles in FOLDER, one line per article. The -l option shows
    a more detailed listing.

  $ zapzi list-folders | lsf
    Lists a summary of all folders.

  $ zapzi make-folder | mkf | md FOLDER
    Makes a new folder.

  $ zapzi delete-folder | rmf | rd FOLDER
    Removes a folder and all articles in it.

  $ zapzi delete-article | delete | rm ID
    Removes article ID.

  $ zapzi move | mv ARTICLES FOLDER
    Move one or more articles to the given folder.

  $ zapzi export | cat ID
    Prints content of readable article to STDOUT.

  $ zapzi show | view ID
    Opens a browser to view the readable text of article ID.

  $ zapzi publish | pub [-f FOLDER] [--format FORMAT]
                        [--encoding ENC] [--noarchive]
                        [--distribute METHOD DESTINATION]
    Publishes articles in FOLDER to an eBook.
    Format can be specified as MOBI, EPUB or HTML.
    Will archive articles unless --noarchive is set.
    Optionally distribute using METHOD to DESTINATION.


Rupert Lane <>


This software is copyright (c) 2015 by Rupert Lane.

This is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as the Perl 5 programming language system itself.