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Old 04-02-2008, 04:18 PM   #1
BlackVoid
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Fed up with conversion issues on Sony reader

I have a Sony PRS-500 and I am using it to read my ebook collection (free ebooks, various formats: txt, rtf, pdf).
My problem is that no matter what I do the conversion to LRF ends up with very crappy results. Line breaks are not where they should be, multiple paragraphs are joined and I get incomplete pages cut in half in the middle of a sentence. If I do not convert and use rtf / txt, it is a pain too with variable line lengths, inappropriate line and page breaks.

I AM FED UP.

I am looking for a Reader that has decent conversion software that actually can convert into a usable format. Are the readers that have html support any better in this regard?

I really do not understand in this day and age why cannot we have a firmware that can handle multiple formats properly. Or at least a decent conversion tool added with the reader. I appreciate the effort that some people have put into free conversion software, but nonetheless the conversion is not working properly.

Last edited by BlackVoid; 04-02-2008 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 04-02-2008, 04:55 PM   #2
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What source material are you using - if the source is decent, then you should have no problems with something like libprs500, whereas if you're getting bad results, it's likely to be a bad source...

The easiest is almost certainly going to be the Reader's native RTF support, but I get good results even with a basic text file & txt2lrf, using the following 'template'. Although a decent HTML file would probably be better, if I want to create my own books from raw text, this suffices for me...
Code:
<head>
<style type='text/css'>
.break { page-break-after: always; text-indent: 0em; }
.drop             { text-indent: 0pt}
.drop:first-letter { font-size:xx-large}
.centre            {text-align: center; }
</style>
</head>
# Title
# Author
<p class="break">&nbsp;</p>
///Table of Contents///
## Chapter 1
<p class="drop">Paragraph1.

Paragraph2.

Paragraph3.
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Old 04-02-2008, 05:01 PM   #3
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PDF can be problem. Even perfect PDF can be a problem.

If yo are starting with a text file, use Word to clean it up, save as RTF and load into Book Designer. It will then preserve the paragraphs.

HTML should be ok as is.

Check the original source to see if it has any problems. If it does, it's a bad source and sometimes you just cannot do anything to fix it.
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:11 PM   #4
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Things that look ok in Microsoft Word will sometimes NOT look ok on the Sony Reader.

You will want to avoid txt files with carriage returns after each line. Just toggle on the paragraph marker (I think that's what it's called), and see if carriage returns are there after each line. This kind of file will NOT look good on the Reader, unless you want to fix it, which is what I did on ONE book that I uploaded to make available to everyone here on MobileRead.

RTF files and Word files that have carriage returns after EACH paragraph present NO PROBLEMS for the Sony Reader.

I've NEVER had a problem with HTML files, when I run it through BookDesigner. (Note: I use BookDesigner when I make available Public Domain books for MobileRead. However, there's a strong learning curve to using this program.)

PDF files -- you're dealing with static pages that are formatted (sized) for something larger than the size of the Sony Reader (and most other ebook reader) screens. There are workarounds only for this problem.

My suggestion to you: load your word or RTF files using Word. If it's something you want to read on the Sony Reader - and the carriage return is at the end of paragraphs (as most are) - then back out of Word and load the file onto your Reader. No problem.

I hope this helped.

However, you will be forever frustrated (in my opinion), if you want to read PDF files on the Reader.

Don
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:27 PM   #5
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You can also use pdflrf to fix the PDF to be more readable on the 500.
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Old 04-02-2008, 08:04 PM   #6
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I use Stingo's macro to eliminate the carriage returns at the end of each line in .txt files. (Do a forum search to find it, if you're interested.)

Then I do a quick edit in word if necessary. I then drop the file into Book Designer if I want to make tables of contents, or add pictures etc.

I've made a lot of books for the Sony Reader: at least a hundred of them started as text files (usually from Project Gutenberg). With Stingo's macro it only takes a few minutes to get a novel into a readable format.
1. Open a new word document.
2. Use the insert menu to insert the txt file.
3. Save the file.
4. Then run Stingo's macro. This eliminates hard line breaks, and sets the font at Times New Roman size 14 (a convenient size for the Reader).
5. Save the document - as rtf if you like - and it should be perfectly readable on your Reader.
6. However, you can do further editing in Word or in book Designer if you want pictures, a TOC, or other features.
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Old 04-02-2008, 08:18 PM   #7
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I've done over 300 books for my Reader & been very pleased with the results thanks to Book Designer and the tools in Libprs500 with very minimal work.

Source material of course is what matters for ease of conversion & that will be true for any of the devices out there.

Last edited by AnemicOak; 04-03-2008 at 12:44 AM.
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:46 PM   #8
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Following on from what Patricia said, Stingo's Word Macro (there is a link from the Conversion page in the Wiki) is customizable to produce whatever font and size you want if you choose to keep the document in DOC or RTF and load that to the Reader. Like Patricia, I always use it as a preprocessor for text files before I load them into BookDesigner.
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Old 04-03-2008, 04:06 AM   #9
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I have decent pdfs and txts mainly. They are quite ok to read on a PC - no format problems at all.

pdflrf - this tool makes very big files, which turned me off. Only a few books would fit on the reader and I guess it is going to be slow too (did not try the file on the reader, but when I have seen a 1 MB pdf turned to a 17 MB monster, I gave up).

libprs500
This program has absolutely no respect for any formatting. Paragraphs are merged together, 3 line pages broken in mid-sentence, paragraph indentation lost and similar problems all over.

Thanks for the rtf tip, I might try that.

I was also thinking that maybe with Adobe professional PDFs could be converted to better run on the reader - is this the case? I am skeptical because the official Sony guide for PDFs suggests to save the file in RTF and then convert back to PDF - I do not think this would work well. When I save rtf from PDF, a lot of problems appear. Can you actually reformat the page size in Adobe without losing paragraphs and indentation?

Still, this is a lot of hassle for something as simple as text formatting. Sony should have included a decent tool for lrf conversion or the reader should support a wider variety of formats. Html support is a serious omission. Even decent txt / rtf documents look crappy on the reader with awkward line breaks and paragraph problems.

BookDesigner - I have tried this and could not find an option to save in LRF format. What am I missing?

I would be very interested how the other readers handle these kind of problems. Is it just the Sony reader, or do the other readers have these issues as well? I love the actual hardware and the e-ink display very much, but software support is abysmal for the Sony reader. I would even consider shelling out the money for the Iliad, provided it handles formatting much better.
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Old 04-03-2008, 04:26 AM   #10
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Is this any good?
http://www.prs-500formatter.com/paydotcom.html

The problems listed here are typical. Although the libprs500 conversion works a bit better than the methods mentioned at the above link, it still has a lot of issues with paragraphs and page breaks.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:47 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackVoid View Post
libprs500
This program has absolutely no respect for any formatting. Paragraphs are merged together, 3 line pages broken in mid-sentence, paragraph indentation lost and similar problems all over.
That's just not true.

It actually supports markdown formatting well, but you need to be aware that with markdown, a paragraph is simply one or more consecutive lines of text, separated by one or more blank lines, and that lines/blocks with prefixs of at least 4 spaces or 1 tab are treated as code/preformatted.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackVoid View Post
Is this any good?
http://www.prs-500formatter.com/paydotcom.html

The problems listed here are typical. Although the libprs500 conversion works a bit better than the methods mentioned at the above link, it still has a lot of issues with paragraphs and page breaks.
The root cause of all these issues is the almost complete lack of semantic information in a PDF file. A PDF (most PDF, at least) knows nothing about paragraphs, lines, or even words. All it contains is instructions at the level of "draw a letter 'A' in a 10pt Courier bold font at such-and-such an offset from the corner of the page".

Very often the best thing you can do with a PDF is feed it to an OCR application and let it try to make sense of it.
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:43 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by BlackVoid View Post
Is this any good?
http://www.prs-500formatter.com/paydotcom.html

The problems listed here are typical. Although the libprs500 conversion works a bit better than the methods mentioned at the above link, it still has a lot of issues with paragraphs and page breaks.
See the thread here but the summary is that you can do as well or better with the (free) apps mentioned already
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:15 AM   #14
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I now have an application called Nuance PDF Professional. It makes a decent RTF out of a PDF. That PDF converted to lrf is not too bad, but formatting errors are STILL VERY COMMON. And this is slow and time consuming and even this does not get very good results.


It actually supports markdown formatting well.


NO, IT DOES NOT. The above mentioned Nuance software handles formatting VERY WELL. It is just about identical to the PDF. libprs500 is not even close. It does not recognize indentation or paragraphs, even if paragraphs are separated by a totally empty line. In the LRF it will be packed together without consideration with 1 word lines, 2 line pages etc.

Is the Hanlin any better in this regard? At least I read that it has conversion software added to the package.
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:18 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackVoid View Post
Is this any good?
http://www.prs-500formatter.com/paydotcom.html

The problems listed here are typical. Although the libprs500 conversion works a bit better than the methods mentioned at the above link, it still has a lot of issues with paragraphs and page breaks.
Tried it. it's not good at all. it's just a poorly written Word macro.
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