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Old 01-07-2008, 04:42 PM   #1
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Sony announced PDF *reflow* support at CES!

Unfortunately, it's not Adobe DE.

We heard a rumor from from Engadget that Sony announced in their press conference new PDF support for the PRS-505.

What they actually said was:
Quote:
With Sony's latest Reader, the future of digital books is here.

The Reader continues to win critical praise and for the month of December, it was the number one selling device on SonyStyle.com.

What's more, we're excited to announce enhanced support for Adobe PDFs which improves the reading experience and underscores our commitment to open formats.

When you combine a vast library of reading material with Sony technology that's geared toward ease of use and convenience, well, let's just say that's a best-selling proposition.
http://news.sel.sony.com/en/press_ro...ase/32858.html

I followed up on it, and this is the email I got:
Quote:
Hi Nate,
No specific annoucement. We're showing reflowable pdf in booth but no timeframe on availability for prs. We simply reiterated our commitment to working with adobe to improve pdf experience on prs.

Sorry for the late reply. Show is crazy. Hope this helps.

So basically it was filler for the speech. No news. Sorry.
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Old 01-07-2008, 04:57 PM   #2
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Maybe the thread should be renamed: "Sony announced support for PDF reflow at CES".

That's something new.
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Old 01-07-2008, 05:00 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
So basically it was filler for the speech. No news. Sorry.
I dunno, reflowable PDFs seems like news to me. Pretty good news, at that!
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Old 01-07-2008, 05:22 PM   #4
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"We're showing reflowable pdf in booth..."

Okay, so no usable news on the Reader but they're obviously working on it and have some idea how this might end up. It might be cool to squeeze into that booth and have a look.
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Old 01-07-2008, 05:31 PM   #5
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Paul Biba is currently at the CES: http://www.teleread.org/blog/2008/01...aving-for-ces/

Maybe we'll get some coverage from him ?
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:37 PM   #6
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I echo everyone else who thinks there is news here. Not having reflowable pdf support really hurt the Sony reader, for me. I've managed to get around it, but will be a nice feature to have. Unfortunately, I have the 500 right now and I still think it would be too soon for me to go out and buy another reader.
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Old 01-07-2008, 11:32 PM   #7
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There's always the possibility that they'll update the 500 model to use the reflow solution too. They've more or less said that they're open to such things but (reading between the lines here) they're concerned about whether the older hardware will be able to support it or not.
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Old 01-08-2008, 12:00 PM   #8
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Well, I only hope there will be a way to disable it. In the PDF file. Yes, I mean that I, as a PDF producer, decide what you, as a reader will see.

I think of it this way: Film used to be a 'fixed' presentation, even those with a break somewhere in the middle: that was what the director and editor designed it for. Today, with TV and commercial breaks, it is chopped up into a format that makes the film look bad -- and I think there has been at least one successful lawsuit (by a film directory against a TV channel) against this practice.

Some books are designed in a similar way, especially in PDF. The producer may spend an inordinate amount of time to get end-of-line hyphenations right, much as a film editor will do his utmost to get the timing of cuts right. The book producer will certainly not approve of a reflow introducing new hyphenation-by-algorithm errors. Same thing with avoiding orphans and widows. That is, the producer adds quality that reflow cannot maintain.

Of course, to some readers this doesn't make sense: they do not perceive any quality improvement. That doesn't matter: these readers will go for other versions of the book. But it would be unfortunate if their capability of recognizing quality was taken as the only true guiding star.
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Old 01-08-2008, 12:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Well, I only hope there will be a way to disable it. In the PDF file. Yes, I mean that I, as a PDF producer, decide what you, as a reader will see.
Certainly the current implementation of reflowable text by adobe has had a way to turn it off. I would expect this feature to be in this offering as well. I would expect something similar to what is on the PPC today.

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Old 01-08-2008, 01:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ath View Post
Of course, to some readers this doesn't make sense: they do not perceive any quality improvement.
Heh, the concern is more that with some reading devices it doesn't make sense: an A4 page (~12" diagonal) isn't terribly legible when shrunk down to a 6" display. Sure, the layout is still pretty that way, but with a reading device most folks kinda want to be able to read the words.

If the PDF is sized, layed out for, and viewed on a 6" screen, then what you're saying makes perfect sense, but taking that approach requires doing that careful laying out you mention for each possible display size. Presently we only really have two sizes (6" & 8") so it's only twice the work to accommodate them all, but what happens when more sizes roll out?

So that's why we're pretty interested in being able to re-flow the text of a PDF file. Well that, and the fact that a lot of folks seem to think that PDF is a good format for e-books, in spite of the drawbacks of its layout-rigid constraints.
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Old 01-08-2008, 01:12 PM   #11
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So that's why we're pretty interested in being able to re-flow the text of a PDF file. Well that, and the fact that a lot of folks seem to think that PDF is a good format for e-books, in spite of the drawbacks of its layout-rigid constraints.
PDF is by no mean a perfect format for e-books, but as long as typesetting and layout cannot be supported by the software, instead of being included in the file, PDF will be the best way to render good-looking books.

Hyphenation, orphans and widows, layout using stylesheets... All of this could be supported with the right software implementation.
But currently, it's not.

epub is a step in the right direction, with mure more advance possibilites for the layout. But we also need software that supports typesetting rules, and try to render the best looking document possible.
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Old 01-08-2008, 01:33 PM   #12
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You'll get no argument from me on those points, Hadrien.

My sole gripe with PDF is that what it's designed to do isn't what I really need out of an e-book.

What it's designed to to it does fantastically. Case in point: it almost became the de facto e-book standard even though it's not well suited to that application (in general terms, I mean, not when a file has been tailored to a given device).
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Old 01-08-2008, 01:44 PM   #13
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New PDF support is amazing

I'm at CES and just came from the Sony booth. I was talking with their expert and he showed me a prototype. The small size is how the PDF looks in it's natural state (A4 or whatever squished onto the screen). He hit the magnifier and BAM! It's pretty awesome. Right now it strips out images, and he said they had some weird bugs to iron out and he said it is a bit slower then they want (though I didn't notice this problem), but it's coming. I can tell they are really behind it and Digital Editions because one of my other big points was making books, and he said he's really in touch with the developing community and recommends authoring in PDF at the specifications they give because the reflow will be coming out. He seemed really supportive and impressed with the stuff that is out now though. Great stuff coming if you own a Reader. I'm not sure why this didn't get more attention on the site, unless there was a previous announcement I missed.
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Old 01-08-2008, 02:36 PM   #14
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Excellent (I think)! May I ask all of you technical experts what this will (might) mean, if anything, for PDFs which are essentially composed of full-page images or even those which have many images? For example, a PDF which is nothing more than 400 letter-sized pages each being a single scanned image. I assume reflowing will do nothing for these, correct? But the "magnifier" you mention, iarann, makes it sound like zooming, as you would do with an image. Do I have any of this right? Please excuse my ignorance.
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Old 01-08-2008, 03:25 PM   #15
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If I understand correctly, they've retasked the zoom/size button to go to this re-flowed approach rather than the "crop the margins" thing it was doing. If they stick with that arrangement, then I think we'd probably be giving up the latter of those two settings. It occurs to me, however that the Sony developers might remember that there's a third setting for that button which isn't currently doing anything in PDFs, so there's space in the current control set for both options.

It is also my understanding that this reflow mode simply strips out the images from a PDF and displays the reflowed text, rather like the Reader does with RTF files with inline images, just skipping them. In this case, I'd think that the image-based PDFs you're talking about would be useless with the reflowing, as there's no actual text there to be reflowed. However, I'd expect the ones that have been sliced-n-diced by an app like PDFLRF would still work as they do now on the non-reflowed setting.

Of course that all assumes that the not-yet finished reflow feature ends up working substantially the way it's currently being reported to work. If it needs to be pointed out, things do have a tendency to change a lot during development.
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