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Old 12-26-2007, 12:05 AM   #1
nairbv
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What format to store books in? What software to read them with?

What format should I use to keep my ebooks in?? I have some and they are a mess. some HTML, some TXT, some LIT, some PDF.

I'd like to convert, especially the LIT ones, and get rid of the mess of old formats. Since I'd like to delete the old files when I convert, whatever I convert to should be easy to convert to some other format if I decide that it's not what I need (or if whatever reading device I buy doesn't support that format). The format I convert to should also be a format that has decent windows reader software. I'd prefer a format that's easily readable on all platforms but I'm currently in windows so that's the priority for now.

Also .... What's the best windows ebook reading software? I don't really care about DRM formats for now, ... I'm just talking html, txt, downloaded web pages, gutenberg books, converted lit files, etc. I'm kind of bumed that some of my "books" are in pdf format. I'm assuming those will be a pain to convert into anything I will like. I'm viewing them in foxit reader for now. I'm not a big fan of adobe or PDF.

Some of my books are .lit. I installed convertLIT, but it makes a directory not a file. I thought it was supposed to convert to some kind of standard ebook format? I understand that the directory contains whatever files some zip-like standard format would have, but ... what exactly do I do to make it that the standard file format? are there tools to convert from that "standard" format to other formats? I don't want a mess of directories full of html files, ... I want simple individual readable ebook files.

I also don't really understand the philosophy behind this new "standard" format. Why is it just HTML with hacked on xml and such in a zip file? It seems to me that HTML is (web optimized) structural data.... hence CSS being a separate presentation-info file. If they're going to use XML for all the meta data and structural information, why is the book itself stored in HTML? So if I wanted to write my own converter I'd need an entire html parser and maybe there could even be javascript thrown in?? wtf? It seems to me like the data of the book itself should just be XML that can be easily parsed and converted with xslt and such. Extracted to a text or html file in a few lines of code if need be. It seems like this "standard" format could be a lot simpler and better optimized for books, ... and better optimized for simple conversion to other formats. Maybe I'm miss understanding something? Can anyone explain the mentality behind this? Is there another format that I might like better?

Maybe one of the other popular-but-proprietary formats like mobi or something is good enough and has tools available and is simple and ... might be good enough for me? If so, ... what do people recommend and what tools do I use? Maybe .lit itself is a decent file format? Are there any other tools besides MS reader that read it? I don't like the idea of a format that's only readable by one program.

Thanks
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Old 12-26-2007, 12:12 AM   #2
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One option you have is to use Book Designer to convert all the mess you have and then you'll have them in Book Designer format which you can then use to convert them into LRF, PRC, PDB, LIT, and any other format supported for output.

As for the best reader for Windows there are two camps. One says MS Reader is the best and the other says uBook is the best. I personally prefer MS Reader. But then, I have not tried uBook in a very long time. So give it a good as well and make your own choice. Then you can generate books to work with the one you like best. But if you do decide to go with MS Reader format, you will need to have Word and the addin to generate LIT. The add-on is free from Microsoft.
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Old 12-26-2007, 12:54 AM   #3
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For the multi file result from lit, it can be easily merged with free software; or you can use AmberLit to make one file, though it may lose stuff doing so (footnotes and the like).

Also with MobiPocket creator you can use the opf file from the lit conversion and make a prc book which preserves the structure and is more useful in general

Personally for Pc reading I prefer Firefox for a quick look around and see if I want to bother and Mobipocket for more serious reading.

For storing, well you cannot go wrong with html and multiple backups (blank dvd's are cheap, and e-books do not take much space especially if you zip them, so you can backup in 2-3 formats or more just to be safe)

I tried both uBook and MsLit, but overall Mobipocket for text-based e-books and pdf's for technical stuff work best for me on a Pc or tablet, with your favorite browser as a quick look around
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Old 12-26-2007, 12:56 AM   #4
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Thanks!

.. I'm confused about how to install though. On bookdesigner.org (not to mention being in russian), I don't see a download link. I see some version 4.0 files posted in various threads of this forum, but the website says it's on version 5.0? ... I'd ideally want to just download directly from the authors if possible, .. and maybe the version 5 addresses some of the vista issues being mentioned elsewhere in this forum?

Also, .. are there command line tools to convert to/from the bookdesigner format, or at least can I do a massive-conversion using the UI? I have a lot of files and I don't want to have to load each and everyone individually to convert.

regarding the reading software,.. I just installed FBReader before posting here. There are a number of formats it can't view... That ubook one you mention can do HTML, TXT, RTF, PDB and PRC but not lit. I'm not sure what the MS reader will do besides lit. I guess it doesn't really matter if I just convert everything to one format but.... Maybe we could start some kind of reader-software-matrix on the mobileread wiki site? I mean there's obviously all the other ebook reading software like DE and the mobipocket reader etc too. There's a lot of confusing information to sort through in terms of formats, conversion options, reading software, devices, etc.
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Old 12-26-2007, 12:59 AM   #5
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There is a sticky for downloading Book Designer and the update and how to install it and also a link to the Book Cleaner thread I think.

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11786
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Old 12-26-2007, 01:00 AM   #6
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can book designer output to the mobipocket format?
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Old 12-26-2007, 01:07 AM   #7
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One option you have is to use Book Designer to convert all the mess you have and then you'll have them in Book Designer format which you can then use to convert them into LRF, PRC, PDB, LIT, and any other format supported for output.

See the above formats and BD can output even more.
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Old 12-26-2007, 01:29 AM   #8
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the book designer install says I first have to install the "microsoft installer program," giving a dead link. Are they talking about the microsoft reader? or some other program I have to install first?
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Old 12-26-2007, 02:49 AM   #9
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"For storing, well you cannot go wrong with html and multiple backups (blank dvd's are cheap, and e-books do not take much space especially if you zip them, so you can backup in 2-3 formats or more just to be safe)"

I don't like just HTML since the meta data etc isn't inherently part of the format in a fixed way... so maybe I can convert to HTML to make it easy to read in a browser, ... but I'd rather my storage format be a real ebook format.

Space is an issue, .. my ebooks don't currently fit on one DVD (and last time I burnt a DVD it took 6 hours on my laptop). The books might fit on one DVD if I didn't have multiple copies of so many of them. I have them on an external hard drive, and would rather have them on my laptop. When I get an ebook reading device, I'd like to buy a couple of 2gb SD cards and have *all* of my books on SD cards, but it's a cost difference if it takes 2 SD cards or 4 SD cards, and it's also an organizing issue in terms of how I divide up the folders over a larger number of SD cards.

But it's not just about space. I have many many copies of some books. I don't know which came from where. Some might be crappy OCR copies and some might just be conversions from various formats. Some might have bookcovers and images and be stored in format's that have preserved section/chapter divisions, whereas others (even if stored in a nice format) could have just been cut/pasted txt. If I continue to proliferate formats, then I never know which electronic copy of a book is the best formatted one. When/if I want to convert all of my books to a new format, maybe for a new device, I won't know which version to convert from.

...so, I need to decide on a single ebook format to consistently store everything in, and as I go through my books eliminate duplicate copies etc. If I'm going to have another copy in another format, ... I'd want it to be separate and distinct... like a separate temporary directory with automatically generated HTML versions to be exported to some device that only reads HTML, ... not various zipped up HTML files strewn in with a bunch of .lit and other such files.

oh, ... and, I did need to install microsoft reader in order to get book designer to run. The installation procedure there could be a lot better explained.

Also, I'm looking at the menu and wiki ( http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Book_Designer ), it seems to be calling mobipocket books .prc files, ... which maybe is the case when a mobi book is read on a palm? So does that mean they'd just need to be renamed after being exported in order to read them as mobi books?
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Old 12-26-2007, 03:30 AM   #10
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Space is an issue, .. my ebooks don't currently fit on one DVD (and last time I burnt a DVD it took 6 hours on my laptop).
Assuming that your laptop has USB 2 ports, I'd suggest that you go out and buy a 16x external USB drive; that way you'll be able to write a full DVD in 10 minutes.

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oh, ... and, I did need to install microsoft reader in order to get book designer to run. The installation procedure there could be a lot better explained.
You absolutely do NOT need to have Microsoft Reader installed to use BD! BD does not use Reader in any way whatsoever.

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Also, I'm looking at the menu and wiki ( http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Book_Designer ), it seems to be calling mobipocket books .prc files, ... which maybe is the case when a mobi book is read on a palm? So does that mean they'd just need to be renamed after being exported in order to read them as mobi books?
"Mobi" is the name of the FORMAT. The extension for Mobi books most commonly encountered is ".prc", although modern versions of the MobiPocket Reader are happy to use ".mobi" too.
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Old 12-26-2007, 07:13 AM   #11
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can book designer output to the mobipocket format?
I would say no. It can store an HTML file with MobiPocket specific markup and images in a PalmDOC file which can be read by all MobiPocket readers. In a real MobiPocket file you can store meta information such as author and publisher in the header.
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Old 12-26-2007, 07:52 AM   #12
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HarryT: yeah, I seldom burn DVD's though so it's not worth the money to me.

I think maybe I was a little confused during the install... maybe I installed it wrong the first time. I'll take your word for it I don't need the MS reader, ... the first time I tried to install it didn't work though and the readme said something about installing something from MS first.

I see what you're saying about mobi. I had thought mobi files typically had .mobi extensions and that prc was an exception. I guess I was wrong.

Anyways, So, I see that I can load a book into book designer and export it in another format. Is there any way to run a book through this process at the command line without opening the gui? ... and also without having to learn all the random individual programs like convertLIT that make confusing directories that I then have to do something else with?

and so, ... when I do convert, in terms of destination formats... is mobi/prc probably going to be the best / most convenient single-file format to store my books in?
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Old 12-26-2007, 09:03 AM   #13
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and so, ... when I do convert, in terms of destination formats... is mobi/prc probably going to be the best / most convenient single-file format to store my books in?
The problem right now is that there is no such "unique format". Everything has its drawbacks, and this why html (I do not like it that much either overall) or rtf (if you are willing to forgo some stuff like pictures, maps...) are needed since you know you will be able to access your books later.

Regarding dvd burning try the free software (cdburner xp 3 - there is new version 4 using .net 3, but if you do not want to bother with that, version 3 will do nicely) and you will see how much it improves your experience.

Link for software:

http://cdburnerxp.se/
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Old 12-26-2007, 09:33 AM   #14
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and so, ... when I do convert, in terms of destination formats... is mobi/prc probably going to be the best / most convenient single-file format to store my books in?
Mobi is my preferred format, because it's supported on so many different devices. I don't know what I'll be reading my eBooks on in 5 years time, but I'm confident that I'll be able to get a device which supports the Mobi format then.

That's my preferred reading format. In terms of a long-term storage format I'd choose something like RTF or HTML.
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Old 12-26-2007, 01:18 PM   #15
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Mobi is my preferred format, because it's supported on so many different devices. I don't know what I'll be reading my eBooks on in 5 years time, but I'm confident that I'll be able to get a device which supports the Mobi format then.

That's my preferred reading format. In terms of a long-term storage format I'd choose something like RTF or HTML.
Mobi is good if you believe one book equals one file. For source documents the epub approach is, I believe a good one. A zip container with as many individual files as needed. BD does not equal one file per book either if their are images in the book. RTF is also a one file equals one book but you have to be very careful. Not all editors support all features. It is verbose text and images can take a huge amount of space.

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