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Old 02-19-2009, 04:30 PM   #1
shinew
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Smile PDF to MOBI, Calibre or PDFReader or ???

hello, I'm new to the forum and i'm about the receive a kindle tomorrow. I would like to get some info & prepare some PDF books to be loaded onto it. very excited!

I've downloaded Calibre and converted a PDF book to the MOBI format, it looks fine with the built-in reader. Then I found this forum and someone said the PDFReader does a good job converting PDF to MOBI. So has anyone used both and have a preference?

my main questions/concerns are:
1) will i still be able to change font size on my kindle with a PDF->MOBI converted file?
2) will it retain TOC if there is one?
3) which one convert technical books/manual better? such as a programming book or reference.
4) are there better alternatives for grabbing newspaper & blogs(for free) to a kindle than Calibre?

thanks you very much for your help!
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Old 02-19-2009, 11:59 PM   #2
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I tend to use Windows MobiPocket Creator - which (like Calibre) allows you to edit the author and title. You can also just email the files to Amazon and they will use a program similar to MobiPocket Creator to convert them for you to MOBI (AZW).

In all the above cases, if the PDF was originally mostly text the conversion will produce a mostly text MOBI that will reflow (and resize the font) like any other conventional MOBI file. If the original PDF was images (e.g. scans of pages), then what you get back is a MOBI of images and there is no reflowing and rescaling possible. How good the conversion from PDF to (text-based) MOBI is depends on how complex the PDF's layout is. For "simple" PDFs generated from standard letter/A4 Word (say) documents it should work well, for complex layouts with fancy graphics it can be very poor. Sometimes switching to a different conversion tool can help, but usually at this point manual editing is needed if you want something acceptable. Or you can use a tool that always produces images for these cases. It now seems that the Amazon conversion can sometimes detect PDFs it can't convert well to text and it then goes ahead and produces images (even though the original PDF is not entirely images).

If Calibre can change the font size and bring up a TOC then most likely so can the Kindle. A slightly better test might be to use Windows MobiPocket Reader. Once again if WMR can display the MOBI well, then so will the Kindle. The largest difference is that the Kindle always uses exactly the same font for all MOBI/AZW ebooks, and has only 6 font sizes and no layout options except justification (hit J when on the font menu to see these options).

Windows MobiPocket Reader can also grab RSS feeds, but my impression is that Calibre does a better job when there is a recipe available.
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Old 02-21-2009, 08:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shinew View Post
hello, I'm new to the forum and i'm about the receive a kindle tomorrow. I would like to get some info & prepare some PDF books to be loaded onto it. very excited!

I've downloaded Calibre and converted a PDF book to the MOBI format, it looks fine with the built-in reader. Then I found this forum and someone said the PDFReader does a good job converting PDF to MOBI. So has anyone used both and have a preference?

my main questions/concerns are:
1) will i still be able to change font size on my kindle with a PDF->MOBI converted file?
2) will it retain TOC if there is one?
3) which one convert technical books/manual better? such as a programming book or reference.
4) are there better alternatives for grabbing newspaper & blogs(for free) to a kindle than Calibre?

thanks you very much for your help!
PDFReader doesn't actually convert to a text based file. It converts each PDF page into images and divides each page into halves or thirds in landscape mode (there are multiple options on the program these are typically the options used for Kindle). So the results are as follows:

1. No, since the resulting file will be images with PDFReader there will be no font to change.
2. Yes, it creates a text/link based TOC from the PDF if there is one.
3. Depending on how your PDF is formatted, PDFReader might be better. In my experience, most technical books tend to make the complex PDFs wallcraft mentioned above. If that's the case, it won't convert to text well and you might want to stick to images if you can stand reading documents on the Kindle that way.
4. In my experience, no. Some people like Mobipocket Reader for this but I haven't had much luck with it. Calibre works pretty well for this, though. My favorite way to read the NY Times and Wall Street Journal, though, is to turn on the wireless and go to the mobile sites for each. It works pretty well. I don't have this option on my Kindle in foreign countries, though.

It was recommended by someone on these boards to use Mobipocket to convert a PDF to HTML and use calibre to convert the HTML to Mobipocket. I tried that a couple times and liked the result. That is another option. I don't know if the result is the same as using Mobipocket all the way through but either way, it works as well as can be expected for PDFs and you can change the font size, look up words, search the book, and all that good stuff. Sometimes headers and sub-notes get in the way but that's just one of the issues you have to deal with when converting PDFs. If it's that important to you, you can always edit the HTML file. That takes more time than it's worth for me, though.
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Old 02-21-2009, 09:33 AM   #4
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Just don't be too annoyed if you find broken paragraphs, run on paragraphs, and possible other errors. This is actually normal for most PDF conversions. PDF is not all that wonderful to convert from to some other format. I've never seen a standard novel length PDF be able to be converted without errors. It's the nature of the beast. If you can, try to find some other format that can be converted.
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Old 02-21-2009, 02:07 PM   #5
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thanks for the info!
it's good to know that PDF Reader actually converts them into graphic, and does side by side, which is pretty cool, because I have couple of books likes that.
Currently i'm using calibre to convert, so far so good because they're mostly texts.

but ya, only if the kindle's 3g is GSM based, that'll be really awesome for international travelers. Then all you have to do is to insert a local SIM to grab some news & books....
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Old 02-21-2009, 08:15 PM   #6
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Kindle is CDMA not GSM based - so no luck with local SIMs.

It's one reason they haven't exported them: Canada, China and South Korea have extensive CDMA networks, but very few other countries do. CDMA's just not a very good technology for a worldwide device, which is one reason the iPhone uses GSM.
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