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Old 01-31-2013, 10:04 PM   #53
Turtle91
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Shannon, Ireland today
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Smashwords Test Book 2 & 3

Thanks Jon! I did not know that meatgrinder is just a version of Calibre. You and I both know that Calibre is updated pretty much on a weekly basis...it is updated so much that it sometimes gets annoying how often we have to install updates!! I wonder if meatgrinder keeps up with those updates, or if they are still in a previous - more buggy - version?

You also confirmed what I found out from checking these other two books. ALL THREE of the books had the same fatal flaw of mandating the font color value is black. That is simply unacceptable. The only saving grace is that there are some of the newer readers that override all of the publisher settings and display things there own way. Normally that would be a detriment, but in this case it saves these smashwords books.

I am familiar with Calibre's conversions - I've seen them many times - and had to clean all the ones I see - I don't think I need to go into too much depth about exactly what is wrong. In general, as an automatic process, it is not bad. There are many things that could/should be improved, but it is very difficult to get a program to think like a person. It just can't anticipate all of the situations it could be presented with - so it defaults to a generic value and forces everything to fit into that mold. I presume that is why smashwords is so strict on the author putting the book in a specific format before submitting it...

That is what I found with all 3 of these books...the styling was almost exactly the same...with only minor variations. For example Book 1 had an indent of almost 1/2 an inch, while Book 2 had 1/3 of an inch and Book 3 had 1/4 of an inch. Normally one would think that is just the style, but the problem is that it is a "fixed" value. You lose the benefits of reflowable ebooks when the user can't adjust paragraph spacing and indents to suite their OWN preferences. In addition, when the user changes the font size, the indent remains constant. As font size increases the apparent indent will decrease, and as font size decreases the apparent indent will become too large. This will look bad in some way to everyone.

Header Style
In Book 3 the headers/Chapter titles were almost indistinguishable from the rest of the document. There was no space around the title, it was the same size and font as the rest of the document - the only difference was that it was bold. On a darker background that would be almost impossible to see.

TOC
It was non-existant in all 3 books. There was the initial page, and then a pseudo "mid-point". Users expect to use the TOC functionality built into their reader...this is one of the benefits of eBooks/ePubs.

Massive Bloat
Honestly, I couldn't get the image of Pearl out of my mind when I looked at how much bloat was in these ePubs! (for anyone who is not part of the "in-crowd" Pearl is the super bloated vampire in the movie Blade... )
image {warning hollywood-fake-vampire-nudity} (If you can tell).


Summary:
Not as bad as I feared based on the source document being a word .doc and going through a process called the meatgrinder.
It looked OK. It was readable. But it certainly did not have that "polished" feeling that you would get when viewing a quality document.

But all 3 books had fatal flaws.
As a test, I had my 14 year old son who just started learning HTML 3 days ago take a look at the style sheets on these books. You can't get much "noobier" than that. I did not say anything to him, other than "what do you think?"

In less than 2 minutes he saw that the book would be unreadable with a dark background!

So, it certainly pays to have someone other than a computer check your books.

Oh, my son says he works for cheap! ( he is trying to pay off a $150 cellphone data charge... )

Cheers!

Last edited by Turtle91; 01-31-2013 at 10:07 PM.
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