View Full Version : Classic No zoom on PDFs


Daithi
10-27-2009, 04:31 PM
I had wondered if the Nook supported the PDF zoom capability, so I looked at a thread on the B&N Nook Boards (http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/eBooks-Help-Board/nook-PDF-Capabilities/m-p/402558#U402558) asking for clarification about this feature. I thought others here might be interested in the B&N response

JonDeSousa wrote:

Kevin, I also have a few questions. I was thinking about getting a Sony Touch e-reader, but I think this may be a better option for me. Only a few things could hold me back.

1. Does the Nook have capability to support the use of epub or pdf copies of Google Books? I know my palm centro has pdf capability but craps it's pants when I try to read a Google Book on it.

2. Does the pdf reading allow for zooming on the text?

3. Are there more than one font sizes for the e-reader books or is there only one standard size?

Thanks.

B&N's Response

Admin Kevin wrote:

Thanks for the questions (and thanks for the help, JImM!).

1) Yes, we have Google eBooks on our site, and you can get them to your nook.

2) We'll check on the pdf zooming, but I don't think it does.

3) You can control the font size of your B&N eBooks. There are five sizes. We'll post some life-size pictures soon.

That's too bad if the Nook doesn't support zooming. Furthermore, I'd definitely want to see how well the Nook supports viewing PDFs on its 6" screen before buying a Nook.

If the PDF is an image of a page, and the PDF doesn't have reflow capability, then the Nook's PDF support will probably be rather poor. This isn't a knock on the Nook, as all devices with a 6" screen would have the same problem -- the screen is just too small for displaying most PDFs. If you could zoom in on a page it might make it bearable, but without a zoom feature I have to think that most PDFs will be nearly unreadable.

wallcraft
10-27-2009, 06:50 PM
If the PDF is an image of a page, and the PDF doesn't have reflow capability, then the Nook's PDF support will probably be rather poor. All implementations of mobile ADE (which the Nook uses for PDF and ePub) have portrait and landscape modes for PDFs and, except for the large-screen Kindle DX, they also either have reflow or a zoom. The default seems to be reflow with no zoom.

daffy4u
10-27-2009, 07:18 PM
Not PDF related but it looks like you can only do a search within the book you're reading and not all books on the device. From Admin Phil_K (http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/eBooks-Help-Board/Hello-Kevin-in-Admin-getting-conflicting-answers-to-my-questions/m-p/402754#M1118):

The information we've received from the product team is that you can search the contents of a book only when it's open.

Gotta say that the Nook forums are a lot easier to use than Amazon's and they're searchable.

Daithi
10-28-2009, 11:45 AM
If B&N hasn't done so, it seems to me that they should give each of the Admins that are answering questions a Nook, so that they can actually confirm how the device works with their own eyes. Consulting the "product team" seems like it would be rife with misinterpretations that lead to providing erroneous answers.

Wallcraft,
It appears to me that you are very well-informed in regards to PDF, so if you don't mind, I'm hoping you can confirm my understanding of how PDFs work or set straight my misconceptions.

My understanding of PDFs is that each page in a PDF document is an image, usually acquired with a digital camera or scanner. Typically, OCR software is then applied to the PDF images and the resulting text is stored as data within the PDF file. When you view a PDF on your computer you will normally see the images and not the OCRed text. However, when you perform functions, such as searching for text, the OCRed text is what is actually searched.

When viewing a PDF on a device with a small screen, such as the Nook, the PDF can be shown as reflowable text, and this is done by replacing the text within an image with the OCRed text. Pictures and diagrams within the original source document remain in place, and only the text is replaced with the OCRed text.

Some of the drawbacks to this approach are that not all PDFs have OCR software applied to them. Instead these PDFs are nothing more than a series of images of the original document. The implication being that the Nook would have a difficult time displaying one of these documents as it could only do so by displaying an image of the page (these PDFs are not reflowable). The document images would be resized to fit within the Nook's 6" screen and as a result would likely not be readable.

Another drawback is that even when the PDF contains OCRed text it often contains lots of errors. These OCR errors result in whole sections of text that are completely unreadable, or at best results in text containing at least one error every page or two, which makes reading the text highly annoying.

Another option for small screen sizes is to provide a zoom feature. This allows the user to zoom in on a portion of a page's image, and thus make it readable without having to rely on OCRed text. The drawback to this approach is that you can only view one section of a page at a time. This could be really annoying if you had to zoom in to the top left quarter of a document to read the first two-thirds of a line, then zoom to the top right quarter to read the last third of the line, then back to to the top left quarter to read the first two-thirds of the next line, etc.

The best solution to viewing PDFs is probably to use a device that has a screen large enough to display a readable version of the original documents images. This is the approach used by the Kindle DX, the iRex 1000s, and the upcoming Plastic Logic Que proReader. No need to display OCRed text with errors and no need for zooming (but reflow and zoom aren't forbidden on these devices -- although the Kindle DX doesn't support them). There are occasions when zooming, even on a large screen device, would be beneficial -- such as zooming in to view the detail of an image. Likewise, even large screens would benefit from reflowable text, because you can resize reflowable text to make it easier to read. The only way to resize the text of an image is to make the entire image larger and this may not fit within an ereader's screen size.

So is that about right, or am I going off the rails somewhere?

wallcraft
10-28-2009, 12:12 PM
My understanding of PDFs is that each page in a PDF document is an image, usually acquired with a digital camera or scanner. This is one form of PDF, and if a PDF only contains images then there is little you can do on a small screen. However, most PDFs start out as text with a few figures (images), e.g. a word processing document. The PDFs then have text in them, but a PDF does not have to store text and images in a "linear" fashion (i.e. as we would read it). For the PDF text to "reflow": a) it must exist as text (i.e. not for scans), and b) the software must be able to determine the reading order on the page. If a PDF is sold as a Adobe PDF ebook, then it probably reflows. PDFs made directly from a word processor also probably reflow, but more complex PDFs might or might not reflow. Sometimes just a single page does not reflow. An example of a hard page to reflow would be a two column article with a figure that extends over the full extent of the page.

If you want to try a few PDFs, the Sony eBook Library (http://ebookstore.sony.com/download/) (Windows or Mac) treats PDFs just like a mobile Adobe Digital Editions EInk device with reflow would do. If the Nook has PDF reflow this is exactly how it will look in portrait mode (usually there is also a landscape mode).

=X=
10-28-2009, 12:52 PM
Just to add on Wallcraft's comments PDF stands for Portable Document File, it is the predecessor of PosctScript. It's original creation was to act as a container file for Postscript but has evolved over the years (from a tech view not a marketing view) to support images, security and much more.

The design of PS/PDF has always been on how to layout the document. (Did you know: PS/PDF was never designed for printing it was an interpretive language designed for displaying text on different devices, (e.g. screens, terminals, printers)).

The latter part is why we get in trouble with PDF. Because it has been compiled to work on a set screen size. If PDF was optimized for 6" screens you would have the best reading experience.

However most PDF are designed for 8x11" paper or books that are 9" wide. In addition most PDF makers add 1/2" margin and page numbers. When a PDF is rendered it renders one page at a time to screen. Since the page is rendered like an image this is why the fonts and images are scaled up or down in order to fit the screen size.
For 5"/6" eInk devices this means a 8x11" inch page is getting squeezed down to 6" making reading a PDF next to impossible.

I often remove the white margins and the page numbering and the PDF tend to look just right for me.
Ahi has made some really nice PDF for 6" device, also FeedBook does too.


As I mentioned earlier a PDF is really a container file, it can included images and text. Because PDF is so widely supported many folks create an imaged based PDF and distribute them as PDF files. You'll know when you have an imaged based PDF simply by the size. Also no search or highlight capability will be present.

Don't associate OCR with PDF they are separate beasts and do not have any connection. PDF do not have any built in OCR capabilities.

Typically an OCR software will convert a text base image to PDF but PDF is not the wiser.


Last point on reflow. As wallcraft mentioned Image based PDF will not reflow, however an text base and image base will reflow, typically placing the image in the right spot and reflowing the text around the image.
Right now most eInk reflow is done by Adobe DE SDK and it is terrible. Images are dropped and the text looks blocky.
There are some software out there that do reflow PDF and they look fantastic. Adobe Reader is one of them, there is a company called RepliGo that also refows PDF very nicely

=X=

tautologico
10-28-2009, 01:06 PM
Good information to know about PDF support in reader devices. I need to read a lot of PDFs with complex layouts, like academic papers which are often formatted in two columns and include equations, graphs, and other images.

So it seems to me that no small device will do for this. Right now I'm thinking about a Kindle DX or a Plastic Logic QUE if it is really good. Any other devices with a big screen and good PDF support?

DaleDe
10-28-2009, 02:11 PM
Even a large screen device will not support full pages in life size. That would take a 14" diagonal screen. 10" screens do better but the font may still be quite small. There are articles in our wiki on PDF and Adobe Digital Editions as well as most other eBooks topics. You can learn a lot by reading them. If there are confusing items let me know.

Dale

=X=
10-28-2009, 02:24 PM
Good information to know about PDF support in reader devices. I need to read a lot of PDFs with complex layouts, like academic papers which are often formatted in two columns and include equations, graphs, and other images.

So it seems to me that no small device will do for this. Right now I'm thinking about a Kindle DX or a Plastic Logic QUE if it is really good. Any other devices with a big screen and good PDF support?

Yeah Dale's recomendation is a good one esp if you wan't to avoid fussing around with PDF.

While the SONY 600 does have a zoom feature it is a hassle to have to zoom in for each page.


There are other software tools like PDFRead, PDFLRF, and PaperCrop that can convert a text page PDF into an image. PaperCrop is one of the best for reading complicated layouts. However these tools require you to convert the PDF and that takes time.


I tend to read the more complicated PDF on my BlackBery Storm via a program called RepliGo. This tool does a fantastic job rendering complicated PDF, so Ironically I tend to read PDF on a small screen.


I expect one day PDF reflow will be considerably better and all eBooks will have the ability to reflow PDF so screen size will not matter. But today is not that day and a larger screen size will greatly enhance your reading experience especially if you are not inclined to manipulate PDF to fit on a smaller screen.

=X=

tuomas
10-28-2009, 05:12 PM
Some info from the Admin over at the Barnes and Noble forum:

I did find out that nook does not support password-protected PDFs; sorry about that. But the good news is, nook does support PDF reflow.

tautologico
10-28-2009, 05:58 PM
Thanks for the tips, will take a look into these tools (and I'm already reading the wiki).

What I need is to read textbooks and papers. Textbooks because they are often big, unwieldy and heavy, uncomfortable to carry and to read. Papers because I often need to read or skim many in a short time, so I'd like to not have to print them.

For textbooks I've been sampling many for the Kindle. Some are well formatted and are quite readable on the small screen, others are terrible. For papers I tried converting from the PDF but the result is often useless because tables and figures are not well converted.

So for textbooks I hope publishers make good versions of them for reader devices, but for papers I don't think this will be happening very soon. The ideal would be to read PDFs directly and without fuss. Failing that, if I have to apply a simple conversion process to a PDF before loading it on my device it's fine, but if I have to follow a complicated process or manually adjust things for each file, it will not work.

Well, I'll try and see what happens.

kezza
10-28-2009, 08:31 PM
If B&N hasn't done so, it seems to me that they should give each of the Admins that are answering questions a Nook, so that they can actually confirm how the device works with their own eyes. Consulting the "product team" seems like it would be rife with misinterpretations that lead to providing erroneous answers.

This, here. This is right. First I was getting terrible misinformation from B&N email support, now even the people in charge of spreading nook info (and squelching rumors) are misinformed or ill-informed. Shame on B&N for not training and/or providing their staff with the means to answer questions accurately.

Anim8or
11-18-2010, 02:02 PM
If you are wanting to read your own pdfs that you have created by a pdf creator then here you go. I use DeskPdf to convert documents on my pc via the print feature. When converting it gives you a choice of Standard (which does not support zooming) Webfile (supports zoom to some degree) or Printing which supports zooming totally using the left and right buttons. The files however are listed as outbind files with a hexadecimal ID but do zoom. I agree that B&N helpdesk people should be retrained by the product developement or tech engineers. So that my friends is how you can get the Nook to zoom PDF files. I hope it helps. I do not mean to promote DeskPdf but only use it as a reference.:thumbsup: