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Old 02-06-2007, 08:56 AM   #1
mdbenoit
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File compatibility with Sony Reader?

Hi,

I'm attracted to the Sony Reader but I'd like to know if their file types are proprietary, or if I could read .pdb and .prc files on it. I have a huge library of those and would hate not being able to read/re-read them on the Sony.

I'd appreciate the help.

M. D.
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Old 02-06-2007, 10:03 AM   #2
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Sorry, no PDB or PRC. However you can read RTF, TXT, & PDF that are not propriatory. The consensus here seems to be that RTF is the best (most usable & open) format. Also you might check out BBeB Binder on another thread on this forum.
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Old 02-06-2007, 11:55 AM   #3
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If your PDB/PRC files aren't locked, you may be able to make use of Amber's Palm Converter.
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Old 02-06-2007, 04:43 PM   #4
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Also, again assuming that the Palm files are not protected, there is a one stop conversion tool called "Book Designer" that is available through links at the MobileRead Wiki Conversion Tools page along with a whole bunch of other fantastic tools.
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Old 02-08-2007, 10:59 AM   #5
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I guess that leaves out my library. Hmmm. Will have to think about that.

I'd say that with all these different formats, they're creating a resistance to ebooks and ebook readers. With a paper book, all you have to do is pick it up and open it. No need for special tools.
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Old 02-08-2007, 12:28 PM   #6
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Tell us about it! The phenomenon has even got a name "The Tower of e-Babel"

If you want to, you can find many discussions of it around here just search for e-babel/ebabel and you'll get lots of 'em.

The fundamental problem is that there was no standard format to begin with, so everybody just made their own (mostly so they could implement DRM solutions), and now there are a bunch of them.

Companies do seem to finally be seeing the light about allowing formats other than their proprietary one, and there is pressure building to hammer out a standard, but it's a slow process.
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Old 02-08-2007, 02:08 PM   #7
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The problem is worse for E-Ink than for "legacy" devices, in part because they are new and in part becase of deliberate policies of the vendors.

For non-DRM e-books, FBReader demonstrates that one technical way out of the "The Tower of e-Babel" is simply to support every format with a published spec and a wide enough following (the only exception is PDF, with some formats on the to-do list). FBReader only runs on Linux, but every single E-ink device so far is also Linux under the hood. MobiPocket takes the slightly different approach of converting several formats to its own format, e.g. on a Windows PC, and then exporting the resulting file to the reader. Note that MobiPocket may natively support your .prc files. Either approach works, and in effect the Sony Reader community has been forced to adopt the "conversion" approach - but in an ad-hoc fashion and without the inside knowledge that the vendor (Sony) could bring to the effort. Third party conversion tools are valuable additions to a vendor's own tools, and some are of very high quality. I sometimes have to convert a file to fix minor issues with FBReader's rendering for example. They really shouldn't be the only option for mainstream e-book formats and mainstream e-book readers.
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Old 02-13-2007, 06:58 AM   #8
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But that's just my point. If we want to convince low-tech pbook readers that ereading is great, conversions and incompatibilities are not the way to go. I certainly will stick to my Palm Pilot and pbooks until I can find a reader that accepts all formats, whether converting them automatically, or supporting the base software.

It's very nice to have a good looking gizmo, but if it takes major effort to open a book, forget it for most readers. Where the e-ink and ereader community might make inroads, though, is in newspapers.
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Old 02-13-2007, 01:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdbenoit
If we want to convince low-tech pbook readers that ereading is great, conversions and incompatibilities are not the way to go.
Until there is a standard format, conversions and incompatibilities are an inevitable part of the landscape of e-reading.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdbenoit
I certainly will stick to my Palm Pilot and pbooks until I can find a reader that accepts all formats, whether converting them automatically, or supporting the base software.
That's certainly a logical conclusion, and valid enough as far as it goes, but there are a few points that you may not be considering. Please note, I'm not trying to convince you to buy a Reader, or any given reading device, just continuing the discussion.

First, your Pilot/PRC/PDB files, are just as proprietary as any other proprietary file, The stuff you're reading had to be converted to that format, just like Mobipocket or any other format. (I only mean to point out that PDB/PRC isn't the source format. )

They clearly work for you, and that's great, but it's also good to recognize that each proprietary format is just as proprietary as all the other proprietary formats -- in the absence of a standard file format, we're all stuck with picking the proprietary format that works best for us, and different ones suit the reading interests and other needs of different folks differently.

Personally I'd rather have that notional standard format, because it would mean that I'd only have to convert my existing files one more time.

I quite agree that most readers won't mess with a complicated process to open a book -- it's not complicated to open a p-book, why should they suddenly want to get all complicated to open an e-book? As a side note, speaking from several years of PalmReader experience, getting ConnStore books on the Sony Reader is just about as easy as it could realistically be -- and a good bit easier than getting stuff on the Palm was -- and getting RTF files on it is much easier.

One of the things we've been waiting/hoping/pushing for is decent reading hardware. I've yet to find anyone who could look at a PalmReader screen and an e-ink screen side by side and tell me that they'd rather read on the Palm.

Whatever else, e-ink is generating new interest in e-reading, which means more folks to holler for content, and more folks to push for that standard format. From that perspective, it's not just a "good looking gizmo," it's the first e-reading device that "most readers" will look at and not reflexively say "Why the heck would I want to read on that?"

I'm speaking from a bit of experience here: I was lucky enough to be able to spend some time with the Sony folks in their booth at the Texas Book Festival last October (my wife loved it because I spent a whole day telling "not her" all about the Sony Reader), and I got to talk to a lot of folks who are readers. Once folks understood that we weren't actually trying to sell the things on the spot, they were quite interested in having a look. Among the folks who lost interest in it after talking to us, the number one reason seemed to be limitations as to what books they could get. Well, that and the price. They liked the readability of the screen, they liked the weight, they were suitably impressed with the battery life, they didn't grouse about conversion or loading, they were concerned about being able to get enough stuff to read to make it worth their while. Whatever any of us may think of the ConnStore, Sony seems to be onto something their target market wants in trying to provide access to reading material.

And that brings me to my final point. If you're going to wait for something that does everything, you're probably going to have a rather long wait. On top of that, proprietary formats have a habit of falling into disuse, so you might want to look at securing ways to convert your files (against some future time when it might be that nothing reads PRC/PDB files anymore), while those ways are still available. Just a suggestion so that you don't get totally stuck with a big library you can't get at anymore. PRC/PDB files are, fortunately, one of the more convertible file types, much better than say, PDFs.

Again, I'm not trying to convince you to buy any particular reading device, or any reading device at all. I say if what you've got works for you, go with it. I just wanted to suggest a few other points for your consideration.
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Old 02-13-2007, 02:36 PM   #10
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Even if there was a standard format, there is nothing stopping manufacturers to impose one of their own. Every time there is a new reader, there is an other language sometimes accompanied by an other format.

We've had a computer platform war that is still going on even in this day of open communication. The only communication standard considered worldwide is HTML. There is nothing even remote attempting to take over. Why not use it? Because it's free of charge. A captured market is what is sought by every device manufacturer.
Holy '$DEITY' to quote our friend.
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Old 02-13-2007, 03:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yvanleterrible
Even if there was a standard format, there is nothing stopping manufacturers to impose one of their own.
Except that very few folks would buy such a device.

Your point about HTML is well taken (I'm not interested in even commenting on its suitability for e-books, it'd be just fine from my perspective, thanks, but at the same time, I'm not a passionate proponent), the problem with it is that a lot of the pubs won't jump without some sort of DRM (I'm not interested in commenting on DRM itself, either -- I'd rather not have it, but I know they're afraid of piracy, and I've reached the conclusion that they won't move until those fears are addressed), and I don't think HTML will support DRM. XML apparently can, in some fashion or other, but that's not something I know a great deal about.

Frankly, if they can come up with a DRM approach that lets me read where I want, when I want, on whatever device I want, lend it, sell it, give it away, burn it if that floats my boat (some books just deserve to be burned, not because of what they say, just because they're that bad ) -- everything I can do with a paper one, basically -- then I wouldn't have a problem with that kind of DRM.

And I agree that they're each after a captured market, but markets just don't stay captured, darn them -- just ask the folks who 'captured' the video tape market with VHS .
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Old 04-16-2007, 09:20 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdbenoit
I guess that leaves out my library. Hmmm. Will have to think about that.

I'd say that with all these different formats, they're creating a resistance to ebooks and ebook readers. With a paper book, all you have to do is pick it up and open it. No need for special tools.
That's why all the ebooks I have purchased have been in LIT format. I have tools to remove the DRM and tools to convert to other formats. So it's no problem to start off with a LIT file and move on to something else from there. Now I have some of my LIT files on my Sony Reader.

Last edited by JSWolf; 04-16-2007 at 09:22 AM.
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