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Old 09-20-2012, 10:52 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by jeffdonnelly View Post
With regard to Kobo Glo and Calibre....
I'll add two summarised questions to the list, but as I'm new to ebooks, I can't guarantee I'll be able to answer these. Any good guides on creating collections in Calibre you can recommend?

EDIT: OK, I seem to have found some Calibre guides on the web, so I'll have a go at creating some epub colelctions before the Glo arrives. However, I have also found a Calibre plug-in called "Collections" which is specifically for the Kindle. I wonder if people have had problems using Calibre collections on their Kobo readers because they are using a Kindle plug-in?...

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Old 09-20-2012, 11:20 AM   #32
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Kobo has stated that the Touch, the Mini and the Glo will share firmware. So, we can already answer most of these.


whatsmyuseragent.com reports

Code:
Mozilla/5.0(Linux; U; Android2.0; en-us;) AppleWebKit/533.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/533.1 (Kobo Touch)
I interpret that as "Safari", but I haven't been reading user agents for a while
It uses the same rendering engine as Safari, in that it uses WebKit, but it is definitely not Safari. It also reports itself to websites as being Safari, which is a bad move from the Kobo developers I think, but it does increase compatibility with some badly coded websites.
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Old 09-20-2012, 11:27 AM   #33
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I read this thread a few times. I didn't want to chime in unless I had something of value to add in, and I wasn't sure I did . Here goes.

I think it is important to acknowledge, perhaps through weighting of the importance of features, or the prominence/order in the review, a difference between whether the Glo does what Kobo promises and has been designed to do, and, well, other things.

So, for example, Kobo stresses the ease of syncing kepubs with other devices and apps. I believe that should be covered in a review. Kobo is designed to sideload though Adobe ADE. How well that works is important, even if MR users are prone to use calibre, instead. It's hard to remember that we are not the typical user of an e-reading device. I believe that for this reason, prominence and rating points should reflect the basic functionality that most people are looking for when they buy a reader.

Speaking of calibre, I am a huge fan and use it almost daily. That being said, it is a third party program, and whether or not Kobo plays nicely with it depends, to a large extent, on whether one of the people who volunteer to develop and extend it choose to work on and develop the kobo driver. Currently David is doing an amazing job working on the driver. Before David, Tim did that for several years. Volunteers have other lives, and there can never be a guarantee that any device will do what we would ideally want when kobo (or any device manufacturer) makes a change. I think that people who write about devices need to take that into account. Now, if a manufacturer goes out of its way to keep calibre from working with its devices, that is another story.
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Old 09-20-2012, 11:28 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffdonnelly View Post
With regard to Kobo Glo and Calibre....

It'd be really useful to find out if Calibre can handle Collection Management or whatever is the equivalent of Collections on the Kobo readers....
These collections are called "shelves" in the Kobo devices. At the moment I don't think Calibre can organise anything into shelves. The only way to make shelves and add books to them is from the device itself. But who knows, things might change in newer Kobo firmware, and then we'll need a Calibre update as well...
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Old 09-20-2012, 11:48 AM   #35
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These collections are called "shelves" in the Kobo devices. At the moment I don't think Calibre can organise anything into shelves. The only way to make shelves and add books to them is from the device itself. But who knows, things might change in newer Kobo firmware, and then we'll need a Calibre update as well...
Shelves are the kind of feature that Kobo tends to make incremental changes in. Right now, one huge challenge is that kobo can only sync kepubs, so having shelves sideloaded friendly (in terms of surviving a reset for example) is not happening. I think we can reasonably expect that Kobo will add in other things, like a greater ease adding books to shelves in future releases.

I am positive that we will see great things happening with shelves/collections through the calibre driver. It's not my story to tell.
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Old 09-20-2012, 11:59 AM   #36
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I read this thread a few times. I didn't want to chime in unless I had something of value to add in, and I wasn't sure I did . Here goes.

I think it is important to acknowledge, perhaps through weighting of the importance of features, or the prominence/order in the review, a difference between whether the Glo does what Kobo promises and has been designed to do, and, well, other things.

So, for example, Kobo stresses the ease of syncing kepubs with other devices and apps. I believe that should be covered in a review. Kobo is designed to sideload though Adobe ADE. How well that works is important, even if MR users are prone to use calibre, instead. It's hard to remember that we are not the typical user of an e-reading device. I believe that for this reason, prominence and rating points should reflect the basic functionality that most people are looking for when they buy a reader.

Speaking of calibre, I am a huge fan and use it almost daily. That being said, it is a third party program, and whether or not Kobo plays nicely with it depends, to a large extent, on whether one of the people who volunteer to develop and extend it choose to work on and develop the kobo driver. Currently David is doing an amazing job working on the driver. Before David, Tim did that for several years. Volunteers have other lives, and there can never be a guarantee that any device will do what we would ideally want when kobo (or any device manufacturer) makes a change. I think that people who write about devices need to take that into account. Now, if a manufacturer goes out of its way to keep calibre from working with its devices, that is another story.
Very good points. I'm not sure what a typical MR user is like, but I will definitely try to focus more on syncing the Glo with ADE rather than solely with Calibre, as I would agree that a review should take into account it's compatibility with stated devices and software, rather than third-party, unsupported ones (even if the unsupported one is wildly popular on the site the review is being posted on!!). So yeah, I'll ensure I try to spend equal time with ADE as I do with Calibre.

Now I just need to think about how to succinctly add a comment to my original post stating this...

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Originally Posted by Mrs_Often View Post
These collections are called "shelves" in the Kobo devices. At the moment I don't think Calibre can organise anything into shelves. The only way to make shelves and add books to them is from the device itself. But who knows, things might change in newer Kobo firmware, and then we'll need a Calibre update as well...
Ah, good to know, I wasn't having much luck on Google with Calibre "collections" and the Kobo devices. I'll take a look at how easy it is to import Calibre or ADE collections into the Glo as "shelves", if it's even possible.


Phew, looks like I've got a lot of work to do before I get my new eReader!!

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Old 09-20-2012, 01:12 PM   #37
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s I would agree that a review should take into account it's compatibility with stated devices and software, rather than third-party, unsupported ones (even if the unsupported one is wildly popular on the site the review is being posted on!!).
One more thing you may want to consider is that some of the issues people sometimes have are not with what some folks might think of as "legally obtained" books, but instead are with books in a collection of perhaps thousands that are downloaded from places other than book stores. I am not intending to open the argument about whether this is good, bad, or indifferent--it is just the way some e-readers are used.

I think for the purposes of a review, you may want to try to make a clear distinction between these two types of digital files. This would include books that might have had alterations to their coding or stylesheets that could interfere with how the reader works. To my noodle-filled mind, it is worth noting the pretty well known fact that Kobo readers--at least those we have had so far--really, really doesn't play well with books with wonky coding. It does this in predictable ways, well, at least for Kobo devices.

Let me give you an example. I routinely strip the drm from ePUBs I purchase before loading them onto my Kobo. Nothing is changed other then that. I can choose to use calibre or copy and paste the books--neither method of getting the book onto my device seems to matter in terms of how well the device works with the book. I have not yet had a problem with any book from which I have stripped the drm and then loaded onto my device without making other changes.

The same can not be said for books that have been sent to me by family and friends. In those instances, they may have altered the stylesheet (sometimes using calibre, sometimes not) or the html in a way that effects how the book works with the Kobo device. It may be a book they have created themselves. Things that are most often altered seem to be how book covers display and the ability to adjust things like margins and line spacing.

Because it's not my first rodeo, I know how to get these things to work the way I want them to. Heck it's not even my 500th rodeo . People using an ereader for the first time will not necessarily know how to do that. For that reason I believe it is important to make a distinction between poor functionality of the device in general and how the device handles files that may have been modified in these ways.
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Old 09-20-2012, 01:47 PM   #38
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One more thing you may want to consider is that some of the issues people sometimes have are not with what some folks might think of as "legally obtained" books, but instead are with books in a collection of perhaps thousands that are downloaded from places other than book stores. I am not intending to open the argument about whether this is good, bad, or indifferent--it is just the way some e-readers are used.

I think for the purposes of a review, you may want to try to make a clear distinction between these two types of digital files. This would include books that might have had alterations to their coding or stylesheets that could interfere with how the reader works. To my noodle-filled mind, it is worth noting the pretty well known fact that Kobo readers--at least those we have had so far--really, really doesn't play well with books with wonky coding. It does this in predictable ways, well, at least for Kobo devices.

Let me give you an example. I routinely strip the drm from ePUBs I purchase before loading them onto my Kobo. Nothing is changed other then that. I can choose to use calibre or copy and paste the books--neither method of getting the book onto my device seems to matter in terms of how well the device works with the book. I have not yet had a problem with any book from which I have stripped the drm and then loaded onto my device without making other changes.
Again, good points. For the purposes of my review, I will be using a wide variety of ebook formats, from different sources, but rest assured they will either all be purchased or obtained from legal sources.

Whilst I do not condone the illegal obtaining of other people's Intellectual Property, I do prefer to have an open to a closed platform where possible - one big reason for choosing the Kobo and the reason I own an Android rather than an iPhone.

ADE has a number of "sample" epubs I will try out, I'll obtain some kepubs from the Kobo store, epubs from the WH Smith store (our official Kobo retailer in the UK) and I'll browse the interwebs for some legally free CBR/CBZ and epubs (like the Conan epub I mentioned earlier).

I want to ensure that my review will mention the way in which the device will handle formats from different sources, as this is something I myself want to know. If you have to spend a long time tweaking an "unsupported" epub in software before it will display perfectly on the Glo, again this is something I will be interested in pointing out.

That is not to say that I will be banging on Kobo. I appreciate the fact that people develop their ebooks with a specific output in mind (whether Kindle, Sony, Kobo or Nook) so they will not always work instamagically on all devices that support that format. As such, this would not affect my rating, but would be more of a caveat for people to be aware of.

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The same can not be said for books that have been sent to me by family and friends. In those instances, they may have altered the stylesheet (sometimes using calibre, sometimes not) or the html in a way that effects how the book works with the Kobo device. It may be a book they have created themselves. Things that are most often altered seem to be how book covers display and the ability to adjust things like margins and line spacing.

Because it's not my first rodeo, I know how to get these things to work the way I want them to. Heck it's not even my 500th rodeo . People using an ereader for the first time will not necessarily know how to do that. For that reason I believe it is important to make a distinction between poor functionality of the device in general and how the device handles files that may have been modified in these ways.
If you wouldn't mind sharing the steps you go through to ensure book covers and paragraph formatting are displayed correctly on the Kobo devices, this would be a major help, and I'd be able to include this in the review, citing you as a reference.
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Old 09-20-2012, 02:54 PM   #39
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i don't have time to write something up from work (darn those pesky bosses) and I am working until 9 PM my time, but I will take a stab at it tomorrow. In the meantime, this is not top-secret , so chances are someone else will write it up.

As I said, I don't have problems with a book purchased/downloaded from a real bookseller--this is true even when I do a format conversion, for example, a kindle book that magically becomes an ePUB on my device. There may be the rare instance when the publisher does something screwy or kobo screws up a particular book, but it's not a device issue--it is, again, a formatting issue. I routinely buy from BOB, Smashwords, Google, B&N, and Amazon without incident. I'll be interested to read what your experience is like.

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Old 09-20-2012, 03:28 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 9littlebees View Post
ADE has a number of "sample" epubs I will try out, I'll obtain some kepubs from the Kobo store, epubs from the WH Smith store (our official Kobo retailer in the UK) and I'll browse the interwebs for some legally free CBR/CBZ and epubs (like the Conan epub I mentioned earlier).
It might also be an idea to download a DRM epub from the Kobobooks.com site. Preferably one that you have the Kepub of too, to compare the two.

For instance, I've noticed previously that book covers of kepubs show up perfectly full screen, no margins. And then when I download the DRM epub of the same kepub and put that on my device (either through ADE or via Calibre with DRM stripped), the same book with the same cover but in epub format suddenly has a cover showing margins (ie. not full screen).

I don't know if this is still the case in the current firmware (I did the above in 1.9.17), as now I change all my stylesheets to show the covers correctly without margins (which needs unpredictable code to work perfectly. Even regular code and/or with proper fixed sizes in for the cover image still gives margins.)
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Old 09-20-2012, 08:40 PM   #41
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There were later posts about shelves and calibre, but as this is the one that started it all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffdonnelly View Post
With regard to Kobo Glo and Calibre....

It'd be really useful to find out if Calibre can handle Collection Management or whatever is the equivalent of Collections on the Kobo readers....
Right now, no. But a new driver is on the way that does handle the shelves on the Touch and will for the Glo and Mini.
Quote:
....not to mention that it'd be good to know for the Kobo Glo how things work with "collections" when the books are on the memory card (heard of major issues on this w/ Nook and organization of books on memory card being lost upon restarting the device).
The Kobo's handle the books on the SD card exactly the same as the main memory. When it detects a book there, it is added to the devices library. It can then be put onto a shelf.

This all works well up to removing the SD card. Then the device forgets about all the books on the card. It removes them from its library including the shelves. If you put the SD card back in, the books are all treated as new books and added to the library.


Quote:
I know that there's quite a few folks who have a large collection of ebooks in a Calibre database, use Calibre to manage the organization of books on their device, and really don't want to jailbreak the device to enable the organizational abilities of Calibre with that device.

Since it's my understanding that Calibre won't natively interact w/ Kindles with regard to Collections since the intro of the Kindle Touch without jail breaking, the ability of the Kobo Glo to easily be organized via Calibre is really of interest to me.
You won't need to jailbreak the Kobo to use shelves from calibre.
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Old 09-21-2012, 06:23 AM   #42
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i don't have time to write something up from work (darn those pesky bosses) and I am working until 9 PM my time, but I will take a stab at it tomorrow. In the meantime, this is not top-secret , so chances are someone else will write it up.
You're working until 9pm? Ouch! Any info you can provide will be highly appreciated, as it will save me having to look up all this stuff and trawling through lots of forum posts to find the pertinent data.

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As I said, I don't have problems with a book purchased/downloaded from a real bookseller--this is true even when I do a format conversion, for example, a kindle book that magically becomes an ePUB on my device. There may be the rare instance when the publisher does something screwy or kobo screws up a particular book, but it's not a device issue--it is, again, a formatting issue. I routinely buy from BOB, Smashwords, Google, B&N, and Amazon without incident. I'll be interested to read what your experience is like.
I've added another bullet to do with ordering epubs from official retailers. This functionality makes the Kobo range even more popular to me! That means I can order a book on Amazon if it the Kobo store either doesn't have it or it is more expensive, and still use it (albeit sideloaded) on the Kobo! Love having this option!

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Originally Posted by Mrs_Often View Post
It might also be an idea to download a DRM epub from the Kobobooks.com site. Preferably one that you have the Kepub of too, to compare the two.

For instance, I've noticed previously that book covers of kepubs show up perfectly full screen, no margins. And then when I download the DRM epub of the same kepub and put that on my device (either through ADE or via Calibre with DRM stripped), the same book with the same cover but in epub format suddenly has a cover showing margins (ie. not full screen).

I don't know if this is still the case in the current firmware (I did the above in 1.9.17), as now I change all my stylesheets to show the covers correctly without margins (which needs unpredictable code to work perfectly. Even regular code and/or with proper fixed sizes in for the cover image still gives margins.)
Mrs Often, fear not, I will be looking at covers in some detail just for you, and have added a point about ordering the same book in both DRM epub and kepub from the Kobo store. Can you suggest any (cheap) titles?

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The Kobo's handle the books on the SD card exactly the same as the main memory. When it detects a book there, it is added to the devices library. It can then be put onto a shelf.

This all works well up to removing the SD card. Then the device forgets about all the books on the card. It removes them from its library including the shelves. If you put the SD card back in, the books are all treated as new books and added to the library.

You won't need to jailbreak the Kobo to use shelves from calibre.
Thanks for more shelf info, davidfor, you're now my go-to SME for all things shelf-related!

I've modified the previous "colelctions" point on my list to address "shelves" instead, along with a mention of their behaviour with microSD cards. If the wording can be improved, please do let me know, as I have no idea how shelves will actually work on the device.
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Old 09-21-2012, 06:43 AM   #43
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OK, I've completely updated the first post so that it now contains my entire outline for the review. I'll update this list with additional requests as they come up. Here it is, to save jumping back to the first page...

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CONTENTS
  • Introduction
  • Unboxing & First Impressions
  • First Steps & Loading Content
  • User Interface & Readability
  • Functionality
  • Kobo Customer Service
  • Bug List, Conclusion & Rating

INTRODUCTION
About Me
  • Current role (engineering project planner), no current or previous affiliation with any eReader manufacturers
  • Previously bookshop branch manager, physical book lover
  • eReader newb (mention Kindle / Kobo / Aldiko apps on Android as only prev experience)
  • Prev experiences with eBooks on LCD screens (PC, Android)
  • Why I haven't gone for a Kindle (family in the US that could provide a Paperwhite, if wanted)
About Review
  • Real-world review, with no bias
  • No previous experience with "proper" eReaders
  • Addressing questions / concerns from MobileRead community (link to thread)
About Kobo Glo
  • Reflection on specs, inc formats, resolution & other features


UNBOXING & FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Unboxing and comments on physical device
  • Packaging & protection of unit
  • General presentation
  • Documentation (manual, warranty, etc)
  • Peripherals & accessories (UK mains plug?)
  • Perceived robustness (compare to my Android - plastic body but glass screen)
  • Quality of home button and ports
  • Perceived durability of screen
  • Comments on LED lights - location, how well-protected, etc
  • Comments on quilted back, comfort of holding it
  • General thought on the physical unit


FIRST STEPS & LOADING CONTENT
Preparing for First Use
  • Does the battery have an initial charge?
  • Duration of first recharge - UI elements, LED notification, etc when charging
  • Does it need to be tethered to PC to activate and get to work?
  • Able to access free books, side-load from Calibre, etc without logging into Kobo (i.e. work out of the box)?
Loading Content
  • List of any bundled free books
  • Availability of officially supported epubs & price comparison with Amazon ebooks
  • Navigating Kobo Store from device, and ease of ordering kepubs
  • Comparison of DRM epub vs same book in kepub, when both purchased from Kobo store
  • Ease of getting back to where you were reading after loading/buying new books (try it with kepubs & side-loading to see if different)
  • Adding additional dictionaries


USER INTERFACE & READABILITY
User Interface
  • Firmware number
  • Comments & photos of home screen
  • Ease of navigating the menus and settings
  • Comments on social settings (Reading Life, Facebook integration, etc)
  • Web browser - which is installed and possible to change? How does it work?
  • Browser scrolling - how does Glo scroll on long/wide pages - soft buttons / double touch / shaking?
  • Browser zooming - how does Glo zoom / increase font in browser?
  • Browser comfort - possible to render sites (i.e. forums to only see messages)?
Readability
  • Page turn speed
  • Ease of turning pages one-handed
  • Thoughts on screen clarity/quality with light on and off (inc contrast)
  • Light brightness levels, in low-light and total/near darkness, inc uniformity of light distribution
  • Note-taking - can notes be exported? How are they accessed outside the book itself?
  • Highlighting text - anything special, does highlighting of kepubs carry over onto other versions of Kobo (i.e. PC)?
  • Dictionaries - size requeired for each, can they interpret foreign text (use example from every supported language (Latin?) - test with Anna Karenina)
  • Similar feature to Paperwhite's "time left to end of chapter"?


FUNCTIONALITY
Functionality
  • Using microSD cards to store & access eBooks, and also interact with Calibre (using both generic & branded, plus new and used cards)
  • Purchasing non-standard books and ease of converting & sideloading (inc Amazon, Google, Smashwords, BOB, B&N)
  • Do eReader settings override font, justification, line spacing, margin widths, etc if these are set in an eBook?
  • Functionality with side-loaded eBooks, including epubs, PDFs, CBRs, CBZs, etc
  • Add-in (i.e. non-standard) font handling
  • Functional differences between epubs and kepubs (also, kepubs vs "official" epubs, i.e. purchased from WH Smith)
  • Compatibility with Adobe Digital Editions, including ease of syncing with the Glo, and exporting ebooks, data, etc from ADE to the Glo
  • Format handling when reading epubs converted by Calibre
  • In sleep/off mode, are epub book covers properly full screen right away, or do they require editing in Calibre?
  • In sleep/off mode, does the last book read show, or is it the book before last, or other?
  • After other elements of review are finished, fully charge battery then test battery life with light left switched on continuously
  • Duration of full recharge, following full discharge as above
  • Can a Glo's library be organised from within Calibre, without issues?
  • Functionality of "shelves" and support for it outside of the device, also do shelves have full functionality with ebooks stored on a microSD
  • Are any features / configurations lost upon restarting the device?


KOBO CUSTOMER SERVICE
Kobo Customer Service
  • Email response time & helpulness to general query
  • Email response time & helpulness to bugs
  • Email response time & helpulness to feature suggestion
  • Ease of contacting (& helpulness) by telephone in UK / international head office


BUG LIST, CONCLUSION & RATING
List of bugs encountered
Conclusion
  • Does it live up to my expectations as a first-time eReader owner?
  • Will I use this as a replacement to physical books?
  • Thoughts on commerce elements (i.e. local used charity bookshop, unable to sell "used" ebooks)
Rating
  • Based on the sections of review above, score out of 10, weighted as follows:
  • Robustness, durability, comfort of physical device (20%)
  • Preparing for use and loading content (10%)
  • User interface & Readability (30%)
  • Functionality (30%)
  • Kobo Customer Service (10%)
  • Overall rating

Last edited by 9littlebees; 09-21-2012 at 06:47 AM.
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Old 09-21-2012, 05:27 PM   #44
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When you are testing the reader's ability to handle epub, I think it would be a good idea to get a few samples from Project Guttenburg, as well as some books from Baen. (The Baen Free Library would be a good source.). The books should be reasonably well formatted as any 'official' book, easy for anyone else to aquire and compare, and that way, the review is not limited to allegations of Calibre introduced taint. Some free books (or samples) from Smashwords would also be a good idea.
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Old 09-22-2012, 05:16 AM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rashkae View Post
When you are testing the reader's ability to handle epub, I think it would be a good idea to get a few samples from Project Guttenburg, as well as some books from Baen. (The Baen Free Library would be a good source.). The books should be reasonably well formatted as any 'official' book, easy for anyone else to aquire and compare, and that way, the review is not limited to allegations of Calibre introduced taint. Some free books (or samples) from Smashwords would also be a good idea.
Thanks, rashkae. I'm aware of Project Gutenberg already, and have picked up The Odyssey, Anna Karenina and Grimm's Fairy Tales from their already, to give me a good mix of subjects. I'm also aware of Smashwords and have picked up lots of free title from there. I'd not heard of Baen, but I've just taken a look at their free library and downloaded one of the titles to test.

I've also picked up freebies from ComicBookPlus (to test CBR and CBZ files), the Kobo store, epubbooks, feedbooks, digilibrary, a free epub on web-writer.net and I've also got some books I've purchased in the past (as PDFs) which also came with epub versions on drivethrurpg. I've also picked up some free books on Amazon to see about converting mobis to epubs. I did look at Barnes & Noble, but they want a US registered card in order to download free ebooks, so I won't be looking there.

So hopefully I'll have my bases quite well covered in terms of ebook sources!
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