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Old 11-03-2012, 09:55 PM   #1
jaydot
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Simple and inexpensive device for reading PDF screenplays

Hey everybody. I'm looking for a device to read screenplays on. I have a few hundred in a variety of formats: most are PDFs (some text, some that have just been scanned in as images), some are .txt or .html. Because of the quality of the scans and the fact that preserving the original formatting is a factor, OCR and ePub conversion isn't an option for the PDFs. I also read the occasional ePub from Project Gutenberg. Other than support for those formats, my main requirement is an e-ink display; I currently read these on my laptop, which has convinced me that an LCD screen is not ideal for extended reading. Price is also a factor, but I don't know enough about the e-reader market to have a specific number in mind (plus I'm in Canada, so I understand most readers will be slightly more expensive and selection will be slightly more limited anyway). Based on my reading so far, it looks like the Nook, the Sony PRS-T1 and the iRiver Story HD are the best fits, though I'm also curious if there are any discontinued models that would be better suited. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 11-03-2012, 11:03 PM   #2
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Try to get your hands one, load a pdf screenplay and give it a try.

I think you'll find reading a letter-sized, format-preserved page squished down to a six inch screen, or scrolling around on one, to be a painful and unpleasant experience that will make you yearn for your LCD.

Consider a Kindle DX or other large screen eink reader.
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Old 11-04-2012, 02:11 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply ApK. Unfortunately, the selection of devices I can test in person is limited to nonexistent, or else I would've tried that before asking for help. I'd definitely consider a Kindle, although I've consistently heard that the Kindle software handles PDFs very unsatisfactorily.

Also, just out of curiosity, what would you recommend as a minimum screen size for comfortably reading 8.5x11" PDFs? Do you think a 7" device in landscape mode with the document resized to fit the width of the screen would be reasonable?
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:10 PM   #4
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It's not just a matter of screen size, it's the nature of eink for the task, as well as the software.

If you've heard that Kindle's handle PDFs badly, it primarily dealing with trying to reflow text PDFs, so that one can smoothly read a novel.

Oddly, the smaller 5" Sony PRS-350 handles that sort of PDF reading better than most of the 6" inch devices.

But, the larger DX should be among the best for your needs, as you'll be viewing an entire page of the PDF with out trying to reflow or handle graphics and tables, so you won't be running into the areas where Kindle's PDF handling is lacking.
I suspect any other 9" or larger eink device would work for you just as well, but I have no experience with any of them.

Using a 6" or 7" eink screen in landscape mode may be an option, if you don't mind that constant half-page scrolling. I've not spent time doing such a thing, so I'd just be speculating.

If at all possible, order from a company with a liberal return policy so you can try it without much risk.

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Old 11-04-2012, 09:27 PM   #5
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@jaydot

As you are in Canada and possibly in a remote location (I know what that is like) I would suggest ordering from Future Shop. Free shipping and at least two weeks after delivery to get RMA for return.

I don't read pdf's on reader but this video indictates kobo do it okay.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcP1--2WvTI

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Old 11-04-2012, 10:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaydot View Post
Hey everybody. I'm looking for a device to read screenplays on. I have a few hundred in a variety of formats: most are PDFs (some text, some that have just been scanned in as images), some are .txt or .html. Because of the quality of the scans and the fact that preserving the original formatting is a factor, OCR and ePub conversion isn't an option for the PDFs. I also read the occasional ePub from Project Gutenberg. Other than support for those formats, my main requirement is an e-ink display; I currently read these on my laptop, which has convinced me that an LCD screen is not ideal for extended reading. Price is also a factor, but I don't know enough about the e-reader market to have a specific number in mind (plus I'm in Canada, so I understand most readers will be slightly more expensive and selection will be slightly more limited anyway). Based on my reading so far, it looks like the Nook, the Sony PRS-T1 and the iRiver Story HD are the best fits, though I'm also curious if there are any discontinued models that would be better suited. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
I'm an academic and have been looking a long time for something I can use to read 8.5x11 as well as reference material. I was waiting for Amazon to come up with the next generation of Kindle DX machines, but they've been discontinued in favor of little tiny video devices for watching movies and doing email, and the LCD screen isn't the best for your eyes anyway, as well as having terrible battery life.

You need a 9.7 inch screen at least. That's all there is to it. You might be able to pick up a used DX, but for the most part they're going pretty dear. Some used are selling above the new price. I finally gave up on it and ordered a Jetbook Color by Ectaco. It's $500, although I noticed that if you get it by the 6th you can get $30 off (click on Daily Deals on the Ectaco website). It's good for a lot more than just reading papers though. You can even learn a language on the darn thing.

I've also overheard people talking about an Onyx Boox or something like that. Lots of things to consider. Someday they'll make a good cheap 9.7 inch eReader, but not yet. If you don't do a *lot* of reading, get a tablet like the iPad. If you do a lot of reading, I guess it depends on how young you are and how long you want your eyes to last.
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Old 11-05-2012, 05:26 AM   #7
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I don't think that a 9 inch reader is needed for screenplays. I'm currently using a 6 inch device to read plenty of pdfs, both fiction and academic, without much difficulty. If your device is good at handling pdfs, I believe you're fine as long it's simple text. Issues arise only with unusual formatting, small fonts, and, mostly, graphs.

But mind you, pdfs scanned as images are awful for e-readers. What I suggest applies to text pdfs only; if you have many image pdfs you need a 9 inch screen (and even this might not be big enough).
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gagarin Gambit View Post
Issues arise only with unusual formatting
This is precisely the issue here.

In a screenplay, the line spacing, indentation and character emphasis on the page give queues to structure.

Joydot can correct me if I'm wrong, but it's important to be able to see, at a glance, the page formatting as the writer typed it.

(also, with a rule of thumb of one page per minute screen time, even the page numbers are a structural cue.)

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Old 11-08-2012, 01:40 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies everyone!

Quote:
Originally Posted by speakingtohe View Post
@jaydot

As you are in Canada and possibly in a remote location (I know what that is like) I would suggest ordering from Future Shop. Free shipping and at least two weeks after delivery to get RMA for return.

I don't read pdf's on reader but this video indictates kobo do it okay.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcP1--2WvTI

Helen
Yeah, I've had good experiences the few times I've ordered from Future Shop in the past, so (assuming they carry whichever reader I end up choosing) I'd definitely give them a shot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by freewheeling View Post
I'm an academic and have been looking a long time for something I can use to read 8.5x11 as well as reference material. I was waiting for Amazon to come up with the next generation of Kindle DX machines, but they've been discontinued in favor of little tiny video devices for watching movies and doing email, and the LCD screen isn't the best for your eyes anyway, as well as having terrible battery life.

You need a 9.7 inch screen at least. That's all there is to it. You might be able to pick up a used DX, but for the most part they're going pretty dear. Some used are selling above the new price. I finally gave up on it and ordered a Jetbook Color by Ectaco. It's $500, although I noticed that if you get it by the 6th you can get $30 off (click on Daily Deals on the Ectaco website). It's good for a lot more than just reading papers though. You can even learn a language on the darn thing.

I've also overheard people talking about an Onyx Boox or something like that. Lots of things to consider. Someday they'll make a good cheap 9.7 inch eReader, but not yet. If you don't do a *lot* of reading, get a tablet like the iPad. If you do a lot of reading, I guess it depends on how young you are and how long you want your eyes to last.
Thanks for all the info. Unfortunately, $500 for the Jetbook is well out of my price range. I'll take a look at the used DX market, though. Also, just to clarify, the only thing that bothers me about an LCD screen for this purpose is the temporary eye fatigue, not the (non-existent) risk of permanent damage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ApK View Post
This is precisely the issue here.

In a screenplay, the line spacing, indentation and character emphasis on the page give queues to structure.

Joydot can correct me if I'm wrong, but it's important to be able to see, at a glance, the page formatting as the writer typed it.

(also, with a rule of thumb of one page per minute screen time, even the page numbers are a structural cue.)

ApK
You are correct sir.

Unfortunately, it looks like the perfect device for me (and apparently a not-insiginficant number of other people) simply doesn't exist yet. I guess I'll have to decide whether a less-than-ideal solution like an LCD-screen reader or a tablet would be a useful enough upgrade from my laptop to warrant the price tag.
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Old 11-08-2012, 04:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaydot View Post



Unfortunately, it looks like the perfect device for me (and apparently a not-insiginficant number of other people) simply doesn't exist yet. I guess I'll have to decide whether a less-than-ideal solution like an LCD-screen reader or a tablet would be a useful enough upgrade from my laptop to warrant the price tag.
A tablet would be a significant upgrade in the convenience area. Longer battery life than laptop, easier to transport, can be used more conveniently in bed, on the bus, planes, coffee shops, park bench etc.

And a reasonable tablet new can be bought for around the same price as an ereader new.

Helen
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Old 11-11-2012, 02:33 PM   #11
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A tablet would be a significant upgrade in the convenience area. Longer battery life than laptop, easier to transport, can be used more conveniently in bed, on the bus, planes, coffee shops, park bench etc.

And a reasonable tablet new can be bought for around the same price as an ereader new.

Helen
You make a compelling argument . The Nexus 7 has definitely piqued my interest; the specs and price point both look good and, although there are mixed opinions on how well-suited it is for reading PDFs, all the info I can find seems to indicate that it would be more than adequate for my purposes. (If anyone else is interested, this video shows it in action; it's in portrait instead of landscape, which is probably how I would use it, but the two reader apps it demonstrates both look great and the uploader says it can handle a 500MB document with minimal slowdown, so my max-30MB screenplays shouldn't be a problem.)
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:06 AM   #12
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Scripts are all left-justified, no? I mean that all the lines begin on the left of the page. If that's the case, I think you could convert them okay. The only thing that I find is a real pain is poetry. Care to point to example online so that I can know what you mean?
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:12 AM   #13
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Okay, here's one: http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Tinker-...ldier-Spy.html

I saved the .html and converted it in calibre. According to the Calibre internal ebub viewer all indentations and other formatting appear to be maintained. You may need to do some other work, but with a little research, I don't see the problem.
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Old 11-23-2012, 06:39 PM   #14
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Thanks for the replies Rizla. Scripts are left-justified except for dialogue, which is left-justified within a narrower column in the centre of the page. The problem is less about not being able to convert them (which would only be an issue with a relatively small number of especially poor-quality scans) than not wanting to lose the original formatting (most notably pagination). That's also why PDF is the most suitable format, since .html documents don't have pages at all.

Edit: Here's a random example that's roughly representative of most of the scripts I'm talking about.

Last edited by jaydot; 11-23-2012 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 11-24-2012, 01:47 PM   #15
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Scripts are left-justified except for dialogue, which is left-justified within a narrower columnist in the centre of the page.
..and except for dialog character names, which are centered, and sometimes transition instructions which can be, as in the sample linked, right justified.

So did you try any devices yet?
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