View Full Version : .TXT a last resort for anyone else?


hidari
01-03-2010, 03:42 AM
I am an avid user of Caibre for both my 505 and my Cybookgen3 (FW 2.0). I usually read most of my books in epub and a minority in PDF. Yet, I find one in every 30 or so that will not pass mustard with calibre or any other converter that I have. Thus, I ocassionally read a novel in .txt and find it to be adequate enough at least for novels.

Does anyone else read in .txt , sometimes?

N.B. I am not a Bookdesigner user nor do I spend hours trying to convert one book.

mores
01-03-2010, 05:51 AM
Only when absolutely necessary. TXT lacks basics such As bold and italic which can really make Reading a lot harder!

FlorenceArt
01-03-2010, 07:23 AM
I have nothing againts txt, as long as the chapter headers are clearly identifiable (a few blank lines and capital letters are enough for me) and there are no carriage returns, or whatever they are called, at the end of lines (but I can remove them if I have to). It's not the most comfortable format but the important thing for me is the content.

I prefer txt to pdf. Of course you can't have images in a txt, but pdfs with images are rarely easily readable on e-ink devices anyway.

hidari
01-03-2010, 08:09 AM
Well said. I would have to say I agree with you, txt is a decent read with your tips. Have read maybe 20 books in txt on my readers with no probs.... sans photos of course.


I have nothing againts txt, as long as the chapter headers are clearly identifiable (a few blank lines and capital letters are enough for me) and there are no carriage returns, or whatever they are called, at the end of lines (but I can remove them if I have to). It's not the most comfortable format but the important thing for me is the content.

I prefer txt to pdf. Of course you can't have images in a txt, but pdfs with images are rarely easily readable on e-ink devices anyway.

eGeezer
01-03-2010, 03:54 PM
I have found that a quick "find and replace" of all paragraph marks (carriage returns) with spaces, followed by a "find and replace" of all periods (.) with period-paragraph-paragraph pretty much cleans up a txt file.

Although it doesn't retain the intended original paragraphing, it certainly makes it more readable, especially on a 5" reader. Naturally, I then have to go thru and restructure the Chapter headers, since they seldom end with (.).

But its not like I am doing this for every book I read.

FlorenceArt
01-03-2010, 05:07 PM
I have found that a quick "find and replace" of all paragraph marks (carriage returns) with spaces, followed by a "find and replace" of all periods (.) with period-paragraph-paragraph pretty much cleans up a txt file.

Although it doesn't retain the intended original paragraphing, it certainly makes it more readable, especially on a 5" reader. Naturally, I then have to go thru and restructure the Chapter headers, since they seldom end with (.).

But its not like I am doing this for every book I read.

Do you mean that you make each sentence into a paragraph? How strange. I would find it very disturbing.

I once tried to read a book whose author had decided he was the one who got to decide where the line breaks should be, instead of just letting the text flow naturally (which he didn't feel was natural at all of course, and I guess he's entitled to his opinion but I found out I rather strongly disagree). The whole text was centered, with line breaks every 5 to 10 words, including in the middle of sentences. A bit like a poem, except that it wasn't poetic, merely infuriating. That book ended up in the (virtual) waste bin rather fast :rolleyes:

rogue_ronin
01-03-2010, 05:18 PM
Text can be made to indicate all the necessary structure and display elements. Check out formats like Markdown (http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/basics).

I think Calibre can export Markdown, but I'm not sure.

m a r

hidari
01-03-2010, 08:43 PM
Text can be made to indicate all the necessary structure and display elements. Check out formats like Markdown (http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/basics).

I think Calibre can export Markdown, but I'm not sure.

m a r


Thank you for the link. Should help me as I am no Guru on book editing..

mores
01-04-2010, 05:18 AM
The way I fix horrible TXT files is this

1) replace double-line-breaks with XXXXXXXXXXXX
2) replace single line breaks with a space
3) replace XXXXXXXXXXXX with double line breaks

This works quite well, keeps the paragraphs but makes it reflowable.
Causes problems, sometimes, with dialogs.

Jellby
01-04-2010, 05:37 AM
1) replace double-line-breaks with XXXXXXXXXXXX
2) replace single line breaks with a space
3) replace XXXXXXXXXXXX with double line breaks

Wouldn't the same be attained with:

1) replace character-linebreak-character with character-space-character?

(In vim: %s/\(.\)\n\(.\)/\1 \2/ )

eGeezer
01-05-2010, 12:49 AM
Do you mean that you make each sentence into a paragraph? How strange. I would find it very disturbing.

I have no argument that, and I gave that some thot. But figured on a little 5" screen, would it really make that big of a difference? It would certainly be more readable than line breaks every line and a half. On top of that, one of the books (don't remember which) there were original paragraphs that were almost a full page long. I'd certainly find that more tedious to read than a paragraph for each sentence.

Like you already said, its the content that counts. And its not like anyone else is going to see it. I wouldn't do it to a (copywrite-free) book I was going to post somewhere.

I actually ended up going to Gutenberg to find the .txt books in epub and downloaded them after 3 long and tedious efforts to convert .txt files. This ebook thing is all new and shiny for me, so I probably shouldn't have posted like I knew what I was talking about. But for future use when there is no other choice, I now have the methods of Mores and Jellby noted for future reference.

That's what I like about this forum. The folks are (almost) always nice and polite even when they are typing with one hand and scratching their head with the other.

Thanks.

mores
01-05-2010, 04:27 PM
Wouldn't the same be attained with:

1) replace character-linebreak-character with character-space-character?

(In vim: %s/\(.\)\n\(.\)/\1 \2/ )Yes it would. But I'm no good in this %/&x)87& stuff so I do it the dummy-way :)

ngrant
01-07-2010, 02:03 PM
I am an avid user of Caibre for both my 505 and my Cybookgen3 (FW 2.0). I usually read most of my books in epub and a minority in PDF. Yet, I find one in every 30 or so that will not pass mustard with calibre or any other converter that I have. Thus, I ocassionally read a novel in .txt and find it to be adequate enough at least for novels.

Does anyone else read in .txt , sometimes?

N.B. I am not a Bookdesigner user nor do I spend hours trying to convert one book.
I have no problem with TXT files, to me it's the content that matters. If at all available, a version with some formatting is nice (and Gutenberg has added some nice options) - my preferences are for RTF and HTML which allow basic formatting and are easily edited, say in Word. Love that Search-and-Replace! I remove the Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, any extra blurb like "other books by" and "reviews", extra blank lines and split long paragraphs like eGeezer, to make my reading experience better - after all, it's just for ME, not anyone else. I am usually reading on my jetBook Lite (5" screen) so these simple formats look great. For anything more complicated, say PDFs with lots of pictures, I read those on my big computer screen (21") to save my poor old eyes extra strain.

As they say -- "to each his own". I believe that these lovely gizmos and content that we buy (or obtain in the public domain) are for us to personalize FOR OUR OWN USE as we wish.

Solitaire1
01-09-2010, 03:16 AM
I have no problem with TXT files, to me it's the content that matters. If at all available, a version with some formatting is nice (and Gutenberg has added some nice options) - my preferences are for RTF and HTML which allow basic formatting and are easily edited, say in Word. Love that Search-and-Replace! I remove the Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, any extra blurb like "other books by" and "reviews", extra blank lines and split long paragraphs like eGeezer, to make my reading experience better - after all, it's just for ME, not anyone else. I am usually reading on my jetBook Lite (5" screen) so these simple formats look great. For anything more complicated, say PDFs with lots of pictures, I read those on my big computer screen (21") to save my poor old eyes extra strain.

As they say -- "to each his own". I believe that these lovely gizmos and content that we buy (or obtain in the public domain) are for us to personalize FOR OUR OWN USE as we wish.

I strongly agree that one of the best things about ebooks is that they can be customized at little cost to suit the reader. Font size, typeface, line spacing, and so on can be easily adjusted to the way that you, the reader, want it.

I agree that plain text can be a viable format for ebook although it does have its limitations. Its greatest advantages are: (1) It's one of the few formats that is readable everywhere, and (2) it is a very compact format.

For me, the main disadvantage of plain text (and also RTF) is that I have no font control. I prefer to read my ebooks in a serif typeface and my reader displays plain text in a san-serif typeface (I can change my reader's default fonts, but that would require me to tinker with my reader's internals, something I'm not comfortable with). It's unfortunate that my reader doesn't offer an option to select a default display font.

Its for this reason that I format my ebooks as PDFs. It gives me a degree of control over the ebooks format not possible with plain text and RTF.

ngrant
01-09-2010, 11:16 AM
...For me, the main disadvantage of plain text (and also RTF) is that I have no font control. I prefer to read my ebooks in a serif typeface and my reader displays plain text in a san-serif typeface (I can change my reader's default fonts, but that would require me to tinker with my reader's internals, something I'm not comfortable with). It's unfortunate that my reader doesn't offer an option to select a default display font.

Its for this reason that I format my ebooks as PDFs. It gives me a degree of control over the ebooks format not possible with plain text and RTF.

Ditto those thoughts, Solitaire1. My jetBook Lite only offers Verdana and Arial, no serif fonts. I have become used to that, and in fact use Verdana as my default font on JBL as well as my computer as it scales nicely from small to extra large. I anticipate that firmware upgrades will take care of that problem in the future. I could, having edited my RTF or HTML file in Word and chosen a nice serif font, save it as a PDF formatted for the small screen, but I am lazy!!

The convenience factor of the JBL reader is probably the most important aspect to me and I am willing to live with its shortcomings, and look forward to many improvements through firmware upgrades. The low cost doesn't hurt either! :D

Solitaire1
01-09-2010, 07:20 PM
Ditto those thoughts, Solitaire1. My jetBook Lite only offers Verdana and Arial, no serif fonts. I have become used to that, and in fact use Verdana as my default font on JBL as well as my computer as it scales nicely from small to extra large. I anticipate that firmware upgrades will take care of that problem in the future. I could, having edited my RTF or HTML file in Word and chosen a nice serif font, save it as a PDF formatted for the small screen, but I am lazy!!

The convenience factor of the JBL reader is probably the most important aspect to me and I am willing to live with its shortcomings, and look forward to many improvements through firmware upgrades. The low cost doesn't hurt either! :D

I don't mind the extra work involved with saving my ebooks as PDFs, and the format control is worth the extra effort. Plus, once formatted its little work to adjust it to a different screen size if that becomes necessary (basically just change the page size and save it as a PDF). Its main disadvantages are file size and rigid format (as formatted it's fine at my reader's default small size but doesn't look as good at a larger font size).

Of all of the available ebook formats, I think RTF is one of the best. It's close to plain text as far as file size goes (since it's actually a plain text format), and it offers format control not available with plain text (and it doesn't have the paragraph spacing limitation that basic HTML has).

ngrant
01-09-2010, 07:35 PM
Of all of the available ebook formats, I think RTF is one of the best. It's close to plain text as far as file size goes (since it's actually a plain text format), and it offers format control not available with plain text (and it doesn't have the paragraph spacing limitation that basic HTML has).

Agree 100%! It surprises me when I read other people's preferences for full justification (I like left-alignment) and no blank lines between paragraphs (I like the space, and mentally "take a breath" as if reading aloud...) So I think it's good that we get as much control over the formatting as possible for PERSONAL customization.

With RTF files I can pack a huge number of ebooks on a 2GB SD card for my reader and am never short of something to read. :2thumbsup

hidari
01-09-2010, 07:57 PM
Thanx for the replies everyone. I myself always like .txt format and read some of my books on it. I cannot use .rtf on my Cybookgen3 or my 505 but I hear many people are fans of it as well. I agree with you ngrant.......space between paragraphs and left alignment are all I need....

Solitaire1
01-10-2010, 01:06 AM
Agree 100%! It surprises me when I read other people's preferences for full justification (I like left-alignment) and no blank lines between paragraphs (I like the space, and mentally "take a breath" as if reading aloud...) So I think it's good that we get as much control over the formatting as possible for PERSONAL customization.

With RTF files I can pack a huge number of ebooks on a 2GB SD card for my reader and am never short of something to read. :2thumbsup

I think one of the main reasons that first-line-indented paragraphs with no space between them are common in printed books is to reduce the cost by reducing the total number of pages. Those extra lines can add up to a large number of additional pages.

To check this out, I took a Project Gutenburg version of "A Christmas Carol" that I formatted for my ereader, removed the space between the paragraphs, and set a first line indent for each paragraph to 0.2 inches (approximately 5mm). Just those two changes reduced the page count by 25 pages (from 307 pages down to 282 pages).

With ebooks the total page count isn't that much of an issue. This allows a reader to choose how he/she want their ebooks to appear, and not have to be concerned the total number of pages.

Like you, I prefer the space between the paragraphs (and also ragged-right paragraphs). It provide a clear visual division between the paragraphs. It also makes it easy to have consistent formatting because I simply put the same amount of space between all paragraph elements (such as titles, scene heading, main text, and interruptions).

File size isn't much of a concern for me because even with the additional space that PDF files take, the combination of my reader's internal memory along with a 1GB SD card gives me plenty of room for ebooks. It's only when I start loading music on my reader that memory space becomes an issue.

Returning to the topic of plain text ebooks, a blank line between each paragraph is one of the few types of paragraph formatting that plain text does allow. It is also the type of formatting that can be easily translated into other formats.

ngrant
01-10-2010, 02:59 AM
...Returning to the topic of plain text ebooks, a blank line between each paragraph is one of the few types of paragraph formatting that plain text does allow. It is also the type of formatting that can be easily translated into other formats.

What you say about the impact on the number of pages in a printed book makes a lot of sense...

And back on topic -- I guess the loss of bold and italic in plain text versions of ebooks *MAY* become a major disadvantage to the telling of the story, particularly in dialogue. For me, it usually makes little difference as I have a vivid imagination :D and often I am re-reading a favourite story that is already well-embedded in my consciousness. In those cases, reading the plain text version is like getting reacquainted with an old friend, who may have lost a little of her youthful beauty but can still charm :)

For new release books, I still borrow from the library as I like to read large print hardcover books that I don't have to find storage for. If the book turns out to be a keeper, I will usually look for the ebook and/or audio versions for my digital collection (no physical space required).

So my take on "plain text" -- it's great for certain purposes but not "everyone's cup of tea".

BillSmithBooks
01-11-2010, 08:27 PM
I also miss bold and italic in plaintext, especially since italic can be so critical in pointing out emphasis or noting internal thoughts of characters.

Do any of you bother to replicate some of that formating in plaintext?

Normally the use of _ or / indicates italic (_italic_ or /italic/) while * indicates bold (*bold*).

When I'm converting from another format like RTF, I save it to HTML, then open up my html editor and do an automated search and replace to change the <i> and </i> to _ and the <b> and </b> to * before saving to txt.

It gives me some idea of the original formatting when reading in plain text and while not as direct as actually having italic and bold, I find it to be close enough that my mind interprets it without having to stop and think about it. Plus, plaintext is flexible enough that I can read it on any device I want.

ngrant
01-11-2010, 11:15 PM
...Plus, plaintext is flexible enough that I can read it on any device I want.

That's the key, isn't it? Being able to read whatever we want on any device of OUR choosing...

Solitaire1
01-12-2010, 04:43 AM
I also miss bold and italic in plaintext, especially since italic can be so critical in pointing out emphasis or noting internal thoughts of characters.

Do any of you bother to replicate some of that formating in plaintext?

Normally the use of _ or / indicates italic (_italic_ or /italic/) while * indicates bold (*bold*).

When I'm converting from another format like RTF, I save it to HTML, then open up my html editor and do an automated search and replace to change the <i> and </i> to _ and the <b> and </b> to * before saving to txt.

It gives me some idea of the original formatting when reading in plain text and while not as direct as actually having italic and bold, I find it to be close enough that my mind interprets it without having to stop and think about it. Plus, plaintext is flexible enough that I can read it on any device I want.

In a related note, in my own stories in addition to using italics to indicate a character's thoughts, I also surround the thought text with "[" and "]" (I treat them the same as I would quotation marks). This makes it easy to identify the thought text even without the italics and those marks carry over into other formats. It also has the advantage that is the only time that I make regular use those punctuation marks so they stand out.

I like the idea of using HTML tags to indicate the character formatting in plain text files. It avoids possible confusion. For example, when I see "_" in a plain text file, to me that means underlining begins/ends at that point rather than italics. It also has the advantage that converting it into a proper HTML file is just a matter of adding a few tags, especially if you include all of the other HTML tags (such as the "p" tags) except for the opening and closing tags.

DaleDe
01-22-2010, 03:55 PM
A trick that can be used in plain text is the tab key. This gets passed through and even if just used as a space it can be a paragraph marker. (CTRL-L) can also be used as a forced page break but that isn't so common. Most people just use four empty lines in a row.

Dale

idraw22
02-05-2010, 03:57 AM
I'm ok with text as a last resort. They're easy to convert for my palm and I can read it on a jetbook or in Word format or in Mobipocket. Plus I like to write stories myself, so it's a quick way to check it out and edit.:cool: