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Old 12-06-2008, 05:45 AM   #1
SpiderMatt
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Best quality ebooks?

I have a question concerning the quality of purchased e-books. This does involve some moral ambiguity for some of you as I will be talking about stripping DRM. If this is not something you agree with please move on to the next thread.

Ever since receiving my Kindle I have been experiencing the joy of purchasing books from just about any e-book store in a format I can read on the Kindle: mobipocket. I thought it was neat that all I had to do was strip the DRM with no extra steps involved. However, looking back at my LIT books, I'm starting to wonder if those aren't better quality. When both PRC and LIT are converted to HTML, it seems like the LIT is better quality. These were different titles, though, because I never buy the same book twice. So there's a chance it's an issue with the titles and how they were formatted. However, I know a lot of Kindle owners on these forums and other people here who prefer mobipocket who still talk about LIT as their preferred format to buy. Is this because they know about quality issues or is it simply because the method of converting LIT is more widely known and has a GUI available?

As you can imagine, this is an important issue because it's only natural for a consumer to want the best quality product for his money (especially when paying the same price no matter what the format). Of course, when buying from Amazon I'll only have one format to choose from but Amazon is not my only choice. The e-books I purchase will be backed up and will be the ones I have probably forever, since I can't imagine me ever wanting to buy an e-book twice. Anyway, I'm curious to hear what the people on this forum have to say on the issue.
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Old 12-06-2008, 09:04 AM   #2
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Both LIT and MobiPocket are based on the Open E-Book (OEB) standard, and should be equally good if created properly. It's the fact that both formats DO use the same underlying standard which makes it so easy to convert from LIT to Mobi with no loss of formatting.

Older versions of the Mobi file format had severe restrictions on image size, etc, but that's no longer true of the current version of MobiPocket Creator. There's no reason that a LIT book should be any "better" than a Mobi book.
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Old 12-06-2008, 10:51 AM   #3
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With commercial ebooks, all formats are typically produced from one "master" format. So the question comes down to what is lost in the conversion. Both LIT and MOBI are based on the OEB "standard", but LIT does less to the OEB original than MOBI does. So I prefer LIT when I can get it. This is particularly the case if you may want to later convert to an even richer format like ePub.

There isn't typically much difference these days between how new MOBI and new LIT ebook will look on the screen. However MOBI isn't a single format - it has evolved over time, and older MOBI ebooks have limitations (almost no metadata, very small images). The problem is that you can't always tell until after you buy an MOBI ebook whether it is in the new or old format. So if you have a Windows PC, LIT is still the safest choice.
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Old 12-06-2008, 08:11 PM   #4
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Cool. Thanks for the responses. That's pretty much exactly what I wanted to know.
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Old 12-07-2008, 11:33 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Both LIT and MobiPocket are based on the Open E-Book (OEB) standard, and should be equally good if created properly. It's the fact that both formats DO use the same underlying standard which makes it so easy to convert from LIT to Mobi with no loss of formatting.
I would actually disagree with that claim. Mobipocket uses an entirely formatting-oriented pre-CSS version of HTML with proprietary extensions. LIT uses the markup format specified by the OEBPS 1/1.0.1, which is an XML-ized HTML 4.0 plus CSS 1/2. Most LIT markup uses semantic @classes to identify textual elements like chapter headings, excepts, etc, while all Mobipocket has is pure, lossy formatting. If you have a choice I would definitely recommend going with the LIT version.
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Old 12-08-2008, 04:43 AM   #6
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I would actually disagree with that claim. Mobipocket uses an entirely formatting-oriented pre-CSS version of HTML with proprietary extensions. LIT uses the markup format specified by the OEBPS 1/1.0.1, which is an XML-ized HTML 4.0 plus CSS 1/2. Most LIT markup uses semantic @classes to identify textual elements like chapter headings, excepts, etc, while all Mobipocket has is pure, lossy formatting. If you have a choice I would definitely recommend going with the LIT version.
But, with respect, none of that affects the actual appearance of the book; it just makes it somewhat easier for the publisher to achieve a consistent appearance across a range of books. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe there's anything in the way of formatting that a LIT book can have, but a MobiPocket book can't.
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Old 12-08-2008, 06:31 AM   #7
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But, with respect, none of that affects the actual appearance of the book; it just makes it somewhat easier for the publisher to achieve a consistent appearance across a range of books. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe there's anything in the way of formatting that a LIT book can have, but a MobiPocket book can't.
But it definitely affects the future usability of the book. The lit format seems to be much better for converting to other formats since it contains more information.

Also if publishers have to convert to different formats all will be worse. Or the format which is easier to convert to will look nicer.
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Old 12-08-2008, 09:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
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But, with respect, none of that affects the actual appearance of the book; it just makes it somewhat easier for the publisher to achieve a consistent appearance across a range of books. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe there's anything in the way of formatting that a LIT book can have, but a MobiPocket book can't.
There's two issues: (1) actual capabilities and (2) practical use of capabilities.

For (1), there are a small set of formatting features Mobipocket does not seem to provide. For example, AFAIK there is no way in Mobipocket markup to specify a right margin (and only a right margin) for a block. More generally, LIT's HTML+CSS provides a richer vocabulary for expressing reflowable styles, allowing fixed, font-size-proportional, or page-width proportional units for all measures. Mobipocket provides only page-width proportional.

For (2), the two problems are conversion fidelity and rendering standardization. Most Mobipocket books probably begin life as some version of OEBPS markup+styles, then are converted to Mobipocket markup. If done incorrectly -- and from my experience the Mobipocket-provided tools are very much imperfect, not even really understanding CSS -- then the conversion loses formatting information. Even if done perfectly, correct rendering then depends on exact duplication of the Mobipocket rendering engine, which is not beholden to any external standard and details of which can change at any version.

So in general, (commercial) LIT e-books are better formatted with markup which is easier to re-convert and otherwise manipulate.

-Marshall
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Old 12-08-2008, 09:18 AM   #9
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So in general, (commercial) LIT e-books are better formatted with markup which is easier to re-convert and otherwise manipulate.
And as a P.S., at least we can agree both are better than eReader. I'd thought because of ereader2html that eReader was similar to Mobipocket, but it actually uses its own, much more limited markup (with a syntax \p\ilike\i \bthis\b) called PML. How crazy is that?
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Old 12-08-2008, 09:47 AM   #10
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I was at one time thinking of manking eReader format eBooks for the ones I've posted here. But I've decided against it as it's too much work based on PML.
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