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Old 06-07-2007, 02:15 PM   #4
NatCh
Gizmologist
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Posts: 11,605
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Republic of Texas Embassy at Jackson, TN
Device: Nook STGR
Wellcome to MobileRead, sborsody!

Certainly you're allowed to vent here -- they'd've thrown most of us out by now if it weren't allowed.

Of course, there's always a very good possibility that someone will come along and respond to your venting.

The PDF (un)support thing is a point of common discussion around here, as it happens. general consensus seems to be that the root problem with PDF and reading devices is that PDF is not, and never really was, envisioned as a book reading format: rather, it's designed to be a transportable page layout format. What I mean is that it's designed to solve the problem of two folks printing the same document in different places/computers, and getting print outs that look very different.

The problem with PDF for e-books is the very same thing that makes PDF so successful in filling its designed purpose: layout inflexibility. It's absolutely vital for document transfer purposes that the layout be completely static -- that's the whole point. However, for e-reading, you want the text (and pix if any) to adjust themselves to the size of the screen you're viewing them on (known as 're-flowing'), and still all be readable.

However, because Adobe has become so commonly available, and because they (rather unfortunately) dubbed their free viewing software "Adobe Reader" folks decided to use PDF for e-books even though it's not intended or suited for that purpose.

There are a few bright spots though. There are a number of apps around this forum that will slice-n-dice PDF files so that they can be read on devices like the iLiad or the Reader. Mostly they rotate and halve the pages so each page displays as two pages that were formerly the top and bottom of the original.

But the real solution is the emergence of a truly standard e-book format that can handle re-flowing the text to the display size of the reading device. When e-books were in their infancy, there was no such standard, so the first e-reader device makers tried to become the standard by making their own formats. Unfortunately, later device makes didn't read the script on that, and made their own formats, that they hoped would become the standard. The result, as yvanleterrible has alluded, is known as the Tower of e-Babel -- nobody understands anyone else.

The good news there is that in the last few years the industry has finally noticed this problem and agreed, at least in theory, that there really does need to be a standard, and there actually seems to be the beginnings of some movement toward one. Not very fast movement, you understand, but movement, nonetheless.

And Adobe itself may actually be the one to resolve the problem. While everyone else was taking forever to even agree that there should be a standard format of some sort, they've quietly been working on something called "Digital Editions" (it's in beta presently), and it's expressly designed to do the opposite of what Acrobat does, that is, conform the contents of a file to the needs of the display. Reportedly, at any rate.

I'm hopeful that DE will be at least a good start on a format that works, because if it is, the rest of the industry may well follow quietly. After all, Adobe has developed a reputation for being concerned primarily with making information/documents accessible to their users, not with playing gotcha by snatching that access away at every other turn, just to bump their revenues.
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