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Old 05-08-2007, 06:45 PM   #1
Elltrain
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Getting books on the reader?

Hi there,

I saw this sony reader in the store the other day, did some research, and went and bought one today.

Trouble now, is I have a lot of ebooks already, in lots of different forms. The only books that the software seems to support are PDF and .txt (and probably that proprietary format that I'm not too interested in).

I have read through and tried to understand the different tools, but most are not very user friendly and I can't figure out what to do.

When I put my .pdf files on it, they of course look horrible -- how do I scale them down so they are readable on the screen?

What about .lit files, or the occasional "ebook" which is really just a html file with links to all the chapters?

Any help would be appreciated. Been 2 hours and I don't even have a book on it yet! I really like the idea of the device but I have quite a headache already.
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Old 05-08-2007, 07:06 PM   #2
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Hey, Elltrain, welcome to MobileRead.

You've actually asked a pretty involved question ... well a real answer will be pretty involved, anyway. So here goes.

Let me start by pointing out that you can use RTF on the Reader, so anything you can get into that format (like, say, HTML files that you've opened in Word/OpenOffice and saved as RTFs) will load right up. The only caveats there are that the Reader's RTF engine doesn't support in-line images (they just don't show up), and you'll most likely find that you need to increase the font size before you load the files onto your Reader. Most folks find that ~16 points is about right.

For PDF files, your best bet is something like PDFRasterfarian (recently renamed just "Rasterfarian"), it cuts the pages up into sections that fit the Reader's display. However, if your PDFs are locked (and it sounds like yours are not) then I don't know if it'll work for you. If you can re-make the PDF files, then sizing them to the Reader's display is the best way to go. Generally, though, most of us have reached the conclusion that PDFs are just a ... sub-optimal option.

For .LIT files, there are a number of apps that'll convert them for you. And you may eventually find that you prefer to make versions of your source files in BBeB/LRF (that proprietary format). I didn't care anything about it at first either, nor did most folks around here, but we've found that we can make our own files quite handily with BookDesigner, and they tend to be smaller than the original RTF's, with in-line pix to boot. Just something to keep in mind.

Here are some references for you, the e-book conversions section of the Wiki is a good place to start, and the formatting BKM for the Reader is another good reference.

Once you've got a bit of a handle on that, you can do some searching around the forum for RasterFarian and BookDesigner, or whatever else seems like a good option to you.

And, of course, you should feel free to ask questions on stuff that doesn't make sense to you, or isn't obvious -- the folks around here are quite knowledgeable and helpful (not to mention polite ), which is a rare combination. Somebody always seems to have the answers to most questions, and if not, there's usually folks who will help figure the answers out.
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Old 05-08-2007, 07:27 PM   #3
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Great. I am messing around with the tools right now. Luckily I am a CS guy and this stuff doesn't scare me.

I can't imagine trying to get my mom one of these though. Is this Sony's idea of ease of use? Sheesh.

When I converted a .lit file, it inserted what appeared to be page headers (eg. GEORGE RR MARTIN3) right smack in the middle of the text, all over the place.

I imagine that was a header on the original .lit file for the tops of the pages, but it didn't get converted right. Can I strip those out automatically somehow?
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Old 05-08-2007, 07:33 PM   #4
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Well, in their defense, their idea of ease of use involves the ConnStore (Connect Store)... which would be more compelling if the ConnSoft (Connect Software) and the ConnStore itself were more ... robust.

The best recommendation I can give you to start out (and the one with the lowest trouble quotient) is to use RTF files. They slide right in, and work just fine ... as long as you don't need pictures.
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Old 05-08-2007, 07:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elltrain
When I converted a .lit file, it inserted what appeared to be page headers (eg. GEORGE RR MARTIN3) right smack in the middle of the text, all over the place.

<snip>

Can I strip those out automatically somehow?
You can probably strip them with a Word/Wordpad find replace run, but you may want to try a different conversion tool first -- another one might handle them better to begin with.
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Old 05-08-2007, 08:02 PM   #6
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2 more issues.

The CONNECT software is now not seeing my device at all. Tried rebooting and unplugging/replugging it. No dice. Is there a common way to fix this?

Also, can I open and edit .lit files in word somehow? Seems like it doesn't support the format.

edit: Resetting the reader seemed to fix it.

Last edited by Elltrain; 05-08-2007 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 05-08-2007, 08:38 PM   #7
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You'll have to convert the .lit file to something that Word can handle, RTF for example. The Amber Lit Converter that's on th one of those links in Post 2 will do that conversion nicely for you.
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:12 PM   #8
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Yeah, the .lit file I have has some weird formatting that none of the converters seem to be able to handle. A find-and-replace in Word fixed it, sort of. Some of the indentation and such is off now, and theres no way im doing 800 of them by hand

Thanks for the help. I'll let you know of any other exciting developments.

Im surprised at how difficult this whole process is. I think the ebook market is one that _really_ needs an extremely simple plug and play environment for it to take off. iTunes but with text.

I've been messing around with different formats and tools for 5 hours now, and just now finally starting to understand the limits of the different file formats and the boundaries of the device.

It's perfect for me, being pretty into computers. But I doubt the target demographic for these things has the patience and technical know-how that I do to really get the most out of a device like this.

Last edited by Elltrain; 05-08-2007 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
You'll have to convert the .lit file to something that Word can handle, RTF for example. The Amber Lit Converter that's on th one of those links in Post 2 will do that conversion nicely for you.
Amber Lit Converter botches the italics. Better off loading the LIT file in BD and then saving as RTF if you want to edit in Word.
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elltrain
Yeah, the .lit file I have has some weird formatting that none of the converters seem to be able to handle. A find-and-replace in Word fixed it, sort of. Some of the indentation and such is off now, and theres no way im doing 800 of them by hand

Thanks for the help. I'll let you know of any other exciting developments.

Im surprised at how difficult this whole process is. I think the ebook market is one that _really_ needs an extremely simple plug and play environment for it to take off. iTunes but with text.

I've been messing around with different formats and tools for 5 hours now, and just now finally starting to understand the limits of the different file formats and the boundaries of the device.

It's perfect for me, being pretty into computers. But I doubt the target demographic for these things has the patience and technical know-how that I do to really get the most out of a device like this.
Honestly, it's not too bad if you load a properly formatted LIT file into Book Designer. It doesn't take much to get it to work and then save as BBeB. But if you take the average pirated book in LIT format that someone just poorly created, of course you'll hae to do a lot more editing. But if you take a LIT file that you've purchased, strip the DRM with CLIT and then load into Book Designer, it'll be ok.
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Old 05-09-2007, 12:02 AM   #11
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Yeah, I have 30 days to try this thing out before I am committed to it, so I just downloaded a couple books online before I went full-scale into buying ebooks instead of paper books.

I had book designer crash on me quite a few times -- is it less compatible with vista than xp?

Quick question about legality -- I know this comes up a lot in other media. If I own a paper book, is downloading a copy online against any US laws?
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Old 05-09-2007, 03:07 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elltrain
Im surprised at how difficult this whole process is. I think the ebook market is one that _really_ needs an extremely simple plug and play environment for it to take off. iTunes but with text.
In fairness, it is that simple if you download books from Sony's "Connect" store. It gets slightly more complex if you want to load your own content - as Nat has said, RTF is the best all-round format for ease of use.

There's a whole bunch of us using "Book Designer" to create nice LRF (Sony's native format) books with proper pictures, tables of contents, etc. You might want to check out the various tutorials, etc, in the "Book Uploads" subforum.
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Old 05-09-2007, 03:11 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Elltrain
Quick question about legality -- I know this comes up a lot in other media. If I own a paper book, is downloading a copy online against any US laws?
Yes, absolutely. Buying a book in one format doesn't entitle you to get free copies in any other format. It is illegal to scan or photocopy a book even if you do own a paper copy, and downloading a copy that somebody else has scanned is equally illegal.

It is illegal, but personally I don't regard it as unethical, especially if that book cannot be bought as a commercial e-book. I must stress that this is just a personal opinion - I'm certainly not encouraging you to break the law!
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Old 05-09-2007, 03:32 AM   #14
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I convert all of my LIT files to LRF using Book Designer, haven't had it crash on me either (if you're using Vista, that's a whole nother can 'o worms. I'm a CS guy as well and I think Vista is just a big ol turd that's more of a pain than it's proven worth yet, and that's coming from an early adopter). Anyway, moving on to PDF files... there are two good tools you can find in this forum: PDFRasterfarian and PDFRead, I personally haven't tried PDFRead yet, but many have and it appears they both do a great job of putting readable PDF's on your Reader. You can always try extracting the text from your PDF's and converting that to LRF (it's a more efficient format for the Reader).

There's a pretty good little tut for using BD, so give that a try (or use the built-in tut) it's well worth the effort and won't take long. If you're concerned about batch conversion, I think you can do use scripts with BD to process a bunch of LIT's. You can also batch-process PDF's in PDFRead.

Not sure about the legality of d/l'ing digital versions of PB's that you own, perhaps someone in the legal world can tackle this question (or someone who wants to put time into researching that question).

Bottom Line: The Reader was made to support RTF, TXT, LRF, and basic PDF functionality; though Sony wants to sell from their marketplace so it supports LRF best. The average consumer buying the Reader will either buy books from Connect or get the freely available public-domain books that have already been converted to LRF-format, so they won't think the Reader's a PITA that others trying to convert from other non-Reader formats.
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Old 05-09-2007, 05:32 AM   #15
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Actually it's not illegal to scan or photocopy a book, or for that matter to change it from one format to another (with the exception of bypassing DRM, but that has nothing to do with copyright law). As long as it's for your own use. That's no different than ripping a cd to listen to it on an mp3 player. You just can't sale it. The courts have consistently found that you can do this.

Downloading a copy that someone else has scanned is a different question all together. It's a pretty grey area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT
Yes, absolutely. Buying a book in one format doesn't entitle you to get free copies in any other format. It is illegal to scan or photocopy a book even if you do own a paper copy, and downloading a copy that somebody else has scanned is equally illegal.

It is illegal, but personally I don't regard it as unethical, especially if that book cannot be bought as a commercial e-book. I must stress that this is just a personal opinion - I'm certainly not encouraging you to break the law!
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