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Old 02-05-2011, 01:42 AM   #1
ArmadilloPilot
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Question What is the best format??

Still new to this eBook world. In my second day of ownership of the 650.

I discovered that sometimes I might have an option of formats when getting content. So what is the difference to me if the same book can be had in lrf, ePub, PDF, or rtf. I guess they all work in the reader okay. Do the fonts display differently?

Also, I just started to study and download calibre. While reading the description, I discovered that somehow it converts books to whatever format I want. I don't know what format I would want. Why would someone want to convert a format that is already readable on their reader?
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Old 02-05-2011, 02:04 AM   #2
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I prefer ePub because the text still displays nicely when you increase the size of the font.

The 650 will read PDFs, but with some books I found when you increase the font size the formatting goes all wonky (strange line and page breaks, etc). Not all PDFs, but some of my older ones.

I don't own any books in LRF format.
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Old 02-05-2011, 02:08 AM   #3
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I use PDF's for technical literature. Also when I want to read the book in not standart fonts ( PDF contains the fonts which it uses ). ePub is best for fiction I think: fast page turnings.
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Old 02-05-2011, 06:12 AM   #4
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Best two choices for long term archiving are EPUB (for most books) and PDFs (for the rare cases where rigid page layout and book formatting must be maintained).

Here's a rundown on each -

EPUB

EPUB is rapidly becoming the world standard for electronic book publication.

EPUB is HTML derived, so pretty much anything you could do in a browser window font and formatting wise is supported.

The main strength of EPUB is it's ability to 'reflow' seamlessly onto any display device's screen, just like a web page can be designed to provide a reasonably good view on ANY computer, even though computers have screens of varying shapes and resolutions.

Initially some epub formatted books were fairly basic, but the HTML 4 features supported by EPUB provides more than enough formatting goodies to handle really nice 'type set' quality books, and publishers are finally starting to pick up on this.

So EPUB books now commonly have professional typesetting features like justified text, chapter head graphics, drop caps, black and white and color figures and illustrations, indexes, tables of contents, as well as full support for both internal and external hypertext navigation.

For example, when I open a EPUB book from feedbooks.com they often include links to other titles by the same author. In web enabled EPUB readers like FBreader, the link will automatically download and display the linked ebook title just like a web browser.

These links currently don't go anywhere on my PRS-650, but internal links within a document navigate perfectly.

Another advantage of EPUB is the standard's simplicity. An EPUB book is nothing but a single ZIPPED archive of a folder containing a number of XML/HTML formatted text files (typically one per chapter), a HTML style CSS file to control formatting, an XML manifest file describing how all the pieces go together, plus any other required resources like JPG images and fonts.

If you rename an unencrypted .epub file to .zip you can unzip it and manually edit it's contents, then zip it back up.

Ever find a word misspelled in an Ebook? With a standard EPUB file, you can just go in and find the appropriate HTML file and fix it, then zip the thing right back up.

Though there are still some fans of Sony's native LRF format, as you can see from the above description, EPUB is now not only more widely used, but is also a lot more flexible.


PDF

Adobe's Portable Document Format has been around for many years now, and it has become a world wide standard for electronic publication.

As wonderful as EPUB is, there are some cases where a particular book may need to have more rigid control of formating for words and figures on a page, and for page-by-page layout within a book, than EPUB can provide.

PDF let's you control precisely, down to thousandths of an inch or fractions of a millimeter, just EXACTLY where something will appear on a page, and how that page will be formatted within the final document.

The main disadvantage of PDF formatted files is that they appear nicely formatted only when displayed on a certain sized screen or printed page that matches the original document size.

it is very difficult to 'reflow' PDF text so it will look right on a smaller screen; and though the PRS-350/650/950 Sony readers are one of the few ereaders that at least TRY to reflow PDF's the results are not always very good.

For example, let's consider the above paragraph, and take a look at how it will look with 'reflow' problems.

Let's imagine that this paragraph is turned into a PDF file for
a device with a with a right margin that falls here ---------- V

So now it looks like this -

it is very difficult to 'reflow' PDF text so it will look right on a
smaller screen; and though the PRS-350/650/950 Sony readers
are one of the few ereaders that at least TRY to reflow PDF's
the results are not always very good.

Heh, no problem, looks great, but the problem is that in creating the PDF, to define the right margin, we just added a bunch of 'hard returns' in the paragraph; one after "on a"; one after "readers"; one after "PDF's".

So now let's imagine that we want to move
the above PDF file onto a device with just a
little bit smaller screen.

So now the right margin is right here -------- V

Without PDF reflow, we get this -

it is very difficult to 'reflow' PDF text so it will
look right on a
smaller screen; and though the PRS-350/650/
950 Sony readers
are one of the few ereaders that at least TRY
to reflow PDF's
the results are not always very good.


See what happens? without some special processing, the formatting gets ripped to bits, because we have to deal with two sets of line breaks, the original hard returns, and the new line breaks caused by the smaller screen. If you have seen many ebook conversions, you have probably seen issues caused by these kinds of 'hard return' issues.

One advantage of the Sony PRS-350/650/950 readers, is that they will attempt to try to straighten out this mess. They can usually fix simple reflow problems like this pretty well, but it doesn't always work though. I have seen some PDF documents where trying to reflow just totally messed up the formatting.

Unlike PDFs, EPUBs are designed to reflow seemliness on any size screen and will never have these kinds of problems, but PDFs rigid layout has the advantage of haveing well defined page numbering and a closer correspondence between electronic and printed versions, so it's a trade-off.

So bottom line, PDFs have their uses, but it's best to stay with EPUB where possible and avoid formats like PDF, DOC, and RTF's which have a "fixed right margin", or embedded hard carriage returns, because they can cause endless formatting problems.

Last edited by delphin; 02-05-2011 at 06:26 PM.
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Old 02-05-2011, 03:19 PM   #5
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Personally I only use EPUB because it is the one that is the closest in looks to printed books. I don't like the feel of PDF books on my reader. And I'm not excited about other formats. So EPUB is the only one for me.
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Old 02-05-2011, 03:25 PM   #6
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I do love lrf and change all my books to it. This format circumvents the big gap in the font size. So when you have XS, S and M size the steps aren't as big as with epub. All other formatting that comes with the epub book is maintained when you change it into lrf.

As BBeB/lrf was Sonys first standard book format, I guess this is the reason for its better font size scale.

To have an easy way to try it out just download a book from the Patrica Clark Library in lrf format.

Congratulations! Enjoy your new reader!
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Old 02-05-2011, 03:28 PM   #7
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On my PRS-300 .lrf files display better as it does not 'Justify' left and right margins using epub - ok though on yours I beleive.

But the loss of speed in handling .lrf compared to epub, along usually with a significant reduction in file space made me choose epubs for everything nowdays.
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Old 02-05-2011, 06:14 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by oldbwl View Post
On my PRS-300 .lrf files display better as it does not 'Justify' left and right margins using epub - ok though on yours I beleive.

But the loss of speed in handling .lrf compared to epub, along usually with a significant reduction in file space made me choose epubs for everything nowdays.
I understand the point about font size issues. I also really hate the fact that my PRS-650 doesn't have a size between Small and Medium.

You can fix that either by reconverting the EPUB with a custom CSS, *OR* by converting to LRF.

In fact with very little work, you can embed custom fonts into your EPUBs and have any type face and font size you want.

I recognize that some prefer converting to LRF to improve formatting, but like you, I still use EBUB as my main format, in my case because I like the flexibility that EPUB gives to read on multiple devices.

Also, I am not sure LRF will still be around in 5 years, and would hate to have to reconvert my entire library.

Last edited by delphin; 02-05-2011 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 02-06-2011, 12:53 PM   #9
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I use epub for everything. I have added an extra CSS in calibre and add a cover and convert epub to epub to get the look and feel I want. Now, the small size font is perfect since I set the default at a bigger size. I do find with the Sony, I am more comfortable with a smaller font size than I ever was with the PB360, perhaps because of the pearl screen.
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Old 02-07-2011, 05:51 AM   #10
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I like how the reader displays docs in lrf format. But after my experience with Sony's Atrac, I use epub now mostly. For technical manuals, it is still pdf. I do not convert pdf docs, but only use the built in reader's functions.
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Old 02-07-2011, 06:22 AM   #11
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I just checked and realized all the books I purchased previously from Sony and downloaded to my new reader are in epub. Silly me. So maybe epub and lrf are the same to my eyes :-). Placebo effect? :-)
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Old 02-07-2011, 06:25 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delphin View Post
Also, I am not sure LRF will still be around in 5 years, and would hate to have to reconvert my entire library.
Only if you delete your epubs after converting them to lrf, if not you'll have both formats in your Calibre library.

Which default size do you use? And what are the other changes you made?

To me it seemed too much of a bother to find out which font size would be perfect, but file conversion to lrf is a one click thing.
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Old 02-07-2011, 06:03 PM   #13
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Which default size do you use? And what are the other changes you made?
Don't even use a custom CSS, just set a few options on the "Look & Feel" option page (Preferences->Common Options->Look & Feel to make the changes the default for all conversions)

Changed "Base font size:" to 14.0 pt

Changed the "Font size key:" to 8.0, 10.0, 12.0, 14.0, 20.0, 22.0, 24.0, 32.0

"Minimum line height:" is still the default 120.0 %

and "Line height" is still also still the default 0.0 pt

Then I just convert EPUB to EPUB, and end up with an EPUB that displays at a slightly larger size, somewhere between the default SMALL and MEDIUM font size, with the PRS-650 is set to it's default "S" font size selection.

So after conversion, the EPUB opens right up on the PRS-650 at that sweet-spot font size right between small and medium, without your even having to select another font size.

For those that like LARGE PRINT books, this may also work out nicely if you find that the "M" font is just a little small, but "L" is just a little large, as after the above conversion the "M" font selection will give a font size somewhere between the default "M" and "L" size.
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Old 02-07-2011, 08:06 PM   #14
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Calibre Helps

As the OP, I had not yet downloaded and installed Calibre when I asked the question. The Quick Start guide, and the Calibre GUI design, stronly implies that epbub is the desired format.

As a senior citizen, I do want my fonts to be large enough for me read comfortably. I would like to know how to ensure that the size is easily readable.

The first book I started to read was an .rtf format. I text on "S" setting was way to small for my comfort. I had to adjust. That created a large space between paragraphs.

The funny thing is -- I was able to adjust to the weird rtf formatting very easily. I learned that reading the story is the most important element. I am enjoying the story line, and I am not bothered at all with the formatting.
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Old 02-08-2011, 03:22 AM   #15
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@delphin

Thank you! K. for you
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