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Old 05-10-2013, 09:53 AM   #1
exaltedwombat
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Why epub (mobi, etc)?

OK, if you want to SELL your books, you have to choose the format Amazon (or whoever) dictates.

But a lot of people here seem to be making books for their own personal use, on a single device, with no need for DRM. And a lot of them seem to really care about page layout, fonts..

So, if you use a computer or 10" tablet, why not PDF? If you want it liquid, why not a straightforward HTML "web site"? Plenty of readers have web browsers.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:02 AM   #2
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I can't speak for everybody, but personally, I use an eink device for reading. I don't want the eye strain caused by using a computer or tablet.

You can very easily strip the DRM off ebooks and change the format to whatever your ereader uses, and alter the fonts, margins, etc. You are not forced to buy from a particular ebook seller.

I'm not sure who is "making books for their personal use", I see most people here just altering the ebooks they bought from Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Sony, etc so they look how they want them to look.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:09 AM   #3
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When I'm traveling, I put all my travel information and reservation numbers into a mobi file for my kindle, so I have it available for immediate reference if I need it.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:14 AM   #4
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For me it's portability. I have a LOT of documents in just straight HTML, as you say, but I can't EASILY transfer those between my PC, iPad, Kindle PW, iPhone, etc. There are all those extra files that go along with them, images, stylesheets, fonts, mp3 and video files ... (those last two were just to poke fun at the epub3 haters out there - you know who you are!)

ePub bundles all those files into a nice little zip file and allows transferring between all my devices without any issues...that's what a free and open format gives you. (Note, I don't consider the requirement to re-wrap the epub into a KF8 format for the PW an "issue" because Calibre automatically does that for me in the background...I just point the PW at my OPDS server and it gets the books I want.)

Besides, I need it in ePub format to use THE BEST reader app out there - Marvin!!

PDF is NOT an easy document format to use when reading for many reasons... but especially if the device is smaller than the page being viewed. Yes you can go through the hassle of making a new PDF with 6" pages, but if I'm going to go through that hassle, then I might as well go through the (much smaller) hassle of making it an ePub to begin with. PDF also doesn't have a lot of those "nice to have" features of a professional ereader.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:18 AM   #5
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...also
Having your own files on a "website" would require security and constant web connectivity...which you usually don't have at 40,000 feet up!
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:20 AM   #6
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And also a book would consist of multiple HTML files, stylesheets, images, etc. Both Mobi and ePub are fundamentally a "packaged up" website.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:24 AM   #7
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For personal documents that I read on my kindle I'll just export to whatever format they support epub/mobi etc

For documents that are math heavy though, I tend to write those in Lyx (latex)
then export to a standard PDF for reading on a computer or one tailored more to the size of my kindle. It probably won't be long before even that doesn't need to be using PDF, various formats have varying degrees of support for maths markup now, including on the web, but it's not quite feature rich enough/widespread. Once that happens, I'll likely still use Lyx, but would export straight to an ebook specific format rather than PDF.
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Old 05-10-2013, 11:24 AM   #8
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I used to convert to PDF but I had to create different versions tailored to specific devices/screen sizes.

Ever since I discovered Calibre and epub (2008/09), I've been converting my books to epub. It works well across devices and reader apps give me features such as pagination, chapters, bookmarks, metadata, annotations, etc.
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Old 05-10-2013, 03:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exaltedwombat View Post
OK, if you want to SELL your books, you have to choose the format Amazon (or whoever) dictates.

But a lot of people here seem to be making books for their own personal use, on a single device, with no need for DRM. And a lot of them seem to really care about page layout, fonts..

So, if you use a computer or 10" tablet, why not PDF? If you want it liquid, why not a straightforward HTML "web site"? Plenty of readers have web browsers.
For your own work, why not use rtf or text? People seem to want fetures like consistant formatting, page numbers, accessible ToC's, ability to annotate, change text size, line spacing etc. etc. in books they purchase. And most ereader browsers are a bit limited.
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Old 05-10-2013, 03:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exaltedwombat View Post
OK, if you want to SELL your books, you have to choose the format Amazon (or whoever) dictates.

But a lot of people here seem to be making books for their own personal use, on a single device, with no need for DRM. And a lot of them seem to really care about page layout, fonts..

So, if you use a computer or 10" tablet, why not PDF? If you want it liquid, why not a straightforward HTML "web site"? Plenty of readers have web browsers.
For me, there are several reasons.

I wouldn't use PDF because I find it's almost useless for anything I don't intend to print. Most apps render them sluggishly, the file size is relatively large, and if I want to adjust the font on the fly to account for anything from tiredness to lighting I can't. It's not a practical format for my uses.

As for a plain HTML "website," while I could do that, there's no reason for it. Others have already mentioned the file-bundling aspect, but the truth of the matter is that a web browser isn't a good program for long-form reading. Reader programs are better, they don't get in the way and things like bookmarking where you are in the book/page are easier.

Formats like epub and mobi, and dedicated reader programs are better for reading fiction, so it makes sense to use them.
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Old 05-10-2013, 03:57 PM   #11
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PDF is usable when you want to keep exact look of document. Or not allow easy modification. There is uses for it, but fiction isn't one of good ones.

Other formats allow applications to reform text better. Such as font size and line length.

EPUB and Mobi are popular formats designed for certain purpouse. And for popularity, it's often about what came at right time or was adopted by right parties. HTML is general purpose mark-up language it can do the job, but there is better options. RTF has good portability, but still it's not best or as good.
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:46 PM   #12
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Plain old website ("most readers have a browser") reading? You mean "scroll" through an entire book?
*shudder*
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Old 05-10-2013, 07:20 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by DiapDealer View Post
Plain old website ("most readers have a browser") reading? You mean "scroll" through an entire book?
*shudder*
You could easily make an HTML viewer that pages content, just as some ePub viewers allow you to scroll through the content.

Yet something like ePub/MOBI is definitely better for books. As others have mentioned, it bundles the content together. It goes beyond that by restricting the markup to a subset that ereaders can reasonably handle, and adding features like a table of contents.

PDF seems to do everything that ePub/MOBI does and adds consistent formatting. The problem is that it's a page description language. Describing a page doesn't work that well when the page can range from less than 4" to over 10".

It is possible to blend the two. That's sort-of what TeX does. Yet anyone who has used TeX can relay the horrors of describing a document that renders properly at one page size, never mind multiple page sizes.
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Old 05-10-2013, 07:47 PM   #14
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PDFs are designed to replicate a printed page exactly. Since e-readers are not the same size (in most cases) as the original pages, PDFs are terrible for e-readers.

And epub (and presumably mobi) pretty much is just a fancy sort of html meant for an e-reader. It adds improvements useful for books.
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:28 PM   #15
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I try my best to always get epub, I don't like pdfs. The few pdf's I have I converted to epub, but most of them came out crappy

For my fanfic, I resaved everything to RTF in my Word docs so that I can easily upload them to Calibre and convert to epubs.
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