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Old 05-07-2009, 04:38 PM   #31
Elfwreck
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Originally Posted by Sonist View Post
I personally would rather see screen size standardization, showing pages as meant to be shown by the publisher, then reflowing. There is standardization for paper sizes, why not for screen sizes?
Because not all of us want 6" screens (although I cope with mine, I'm saving money for a Jetbook), and we *certainly* don't all want to deal with letter/A4-sized pages for ebooks. I like my digital reader to be tiny--small enough to fit in my pocket. I am perfectly content to read text on a 3" screen that I can hold in one hand on a crowded train.

And there is *no reason* to need a 10" screen for me to read novels and fanfic, which is the majority of my reading. No reason that content that will flow to any screen and font size in my browser window, can't be shown with that flexibility on a portable device.

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In addition, PDF is already an established standard on the desktop. And, at least on a desktop, a PDF can be annotated, searched, stickies can be placed on it, and so on.
If you have the software for it. If the PDF is searchable. If it's not security-locked to prevent those edits--there's no way to annotate with a txt file that associates itself with a given PDF.

The PDF is a standard for desktops because it's a standard for printing. Not because it's the best way to read on a computer screen. HTML is the standard for digital content intended to be read on computer screens. (Like the content shared at this forum. There are reasons internet blogs, forums and news articles aren't produced as PDFs.)

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So, again, isn't it better to establish a standard (and PDF currently seems to be the best one I've seen), instead of fragmenting an already confused market with new formats, like EPUB?
I adore PDFs. I convert most of my ebooks to PDF because some of Calibre's settings confuse me, and because I know how to format & edit PDFs. But I don't believe it's anything like the "best" format for ebooks; it's just the one I'm most comfortable with.

EPub is better. It has the flexibility of HTML, which is strongly desired on a device with variable content, especially one with a small screen. As an open source standard, it can be improved and adapted by anyone with some ingenuity; it doesn't have to wait for a committee to approve changes. (I haven't worked with Acrobat 9 yet... have they finally allowed the user to print a list of bookmarks? Or is that still only available through expensive third-party plugins?)
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Old 05-07-2009, 06:07 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by zelda_pinwheel View Post
sonist, i've got a thread just for you....
Thanks, Zelda. I looked at it, and it was helpful, but while I certainly might be missing something, I still do not see any clear advantages of EPUB over PDF.


Elfwreck points out some positives, such as being an HTML container. But, frankly, while HTML may make a programmer's heart happy, it sucks in terms of design capabilities. PDF is much, much better.

As to small screens, I doubt most people will prefer them, once larger screens come to market at affordable prices. But regardless, if we have 2-3 sizes established as standard (e.g. 6", 9.7", 12"), then publishers can design as appropriate, for material which does not lend itself to reflow. Again, we do have well-established standards for paper sizes, so why not for ereader screens?

Moreover, I am not sure EPUB robust enough for complex layouts, where design is of great importance, such as magazines. We already know that PDF is.

The bottom line is, PDF is already a standard on the desktop. And not just for printing.

On the web, if one wants precise control over a non-dynamic page, they use PDF, and most browsers can deal with it with ease. Blogs, etc., are generally dynamic, editable, and do not often demand precise design and layout control - books and magazines are the opposite.)

To me, it's a natural step to adopt PDF as ebook standard, as well as emagazines, etextbooks, enewspapers, etc..

DRM is no more of an issue with PDFs, than with EPUB. If anything, I thought PDF DRM is already defeat-able.

Last edited by Sonist; 05-07-2009 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 05-07-2009, 06:22 PM   #33
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if the layout can be done using XML + CSS then ePub can be used. And the good thing is that it should work fine on a 6" screen or a 9.7" screen. PDF is a fixed size and a letter sized PDF doesn't work so well on small screens. I've attached a sample ePub that will show you that you can do complex layouts.
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File Type: epub sample.2.2008.07.28.epub (2.10 MB, 151 views)
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Old 05-07-2009, 06:45 PM   #34
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if the layout can be done using XML + CSS then ePub can be used. And the good thing is that it should work fine on a 6" screen or a 9.7" screen. PDF is a fixed size and a letter sized PDF doesn't work so well on small screens. I've attached a sample ePub that will show you that you can do complex layouts.
Thanks, JSWolf. I just looked at the file in Calibre, and it looks good. But am I wrong to assume, that everything your EPUB file does, can be done just as well, with the new version of Adobe?

Just like the web, e-publishing will evolve from mostly text-based, limited design pages, to richer, more print-like look - see for instance the image attached.

A page like this should not reflow, because it will lose its visual effect. And while I know a PDF file will have no problem with it, I am not sure, EPUB can do it (please correct me if I am wrong.)

My point is, why not just use one format, from desktop to ereader, for complex layout pages which should not reflow, as well as for simple text pages which should reflow? The only format I know, which can do all this, is PDF.
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Old 05-07-2009, 06:47 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Sonist View Post
But regardless, if we have 2-3 sizes established as standard (e.g. 6", 9.7", 12"), then publishers can design as appropriate, for material which does not lend itself to reflow. Again, we do have well-established standards for paper sizes, so why not for ereader screens?
We do not have standard paper sizes for books. We have a small set of standards (mass-market paperback, magazine size, and perhaps a couple of others), and a range that most other books fall into--trade paperbacks are roughly of a size, but not universally; textbooks are "big paper, square-ish," but not of any one set of dimensions.

We have a standard size for notebook paper because it's easy to produce millions of pages the same size, not because anyone thought most notebooks should be the same size. (We still get variations. Some spiral notebooks are 8.5x11, some are that plus a half-inch tear-out margin. And other sizes do exist--I prefer 6x9 steno pads.)

Books come in a set range of sizes because of publication limitations; when you're printing several hundred thousand copies, they need to be the same, and it's easier to arrange layouts of lots of books on a standard template. There's no need to extend this to ebooks.

(Just like there's no need to insist a sellable ebook be 50,000 words, the length of a short novel. Short stories could be sold indivdually, rather than in collections or magazines, as Fictionwise does.)

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Moreover, I am not sure EPUB robust enough for complex layouts, where design is of great importance, such as magazines. We already know that PDF is.
Design is of great importance for magazines because page real estate was valuable--because printing costs money. When page counts are irrelevant, there's no need to put text in columns with pictures to one side or the other--pictures can be inline with the text, or a chart can have its own page.

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On the web, if one wants precise control over a non-dynamic page, they use PDF, and most browsers can deal with it with ease.
That kind of precise control is a bug, not a feature, in many publications. The end-user's ability to adjust fonts, margins, and other formatting details in ebooks is part of what makes them useful for many people.

PDFs are great for the intricate layouts required for some textbooks; they're awful for novels. They're good for children's books... how long will it be before we have a color childsafe ebook reader? They're okay for poetry, in that they have controls that are lacking in some other readers--but unless someone comes up with a reflow that keeps more original formatting & line breaks, it'll remain at "okay" instead of "good."

"It acts just like paper" is not an advantage for a lot of digital documents. And while you might claim not many people want 3" screens... there's a lot of content bouncing around on iPhones. Apparently, many people are willing to sacrifice screen size for pocketability. (Not many of them are reading novels--but the number who are, is growing.)
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Old 05-07-2009, 07:30 PM   #36
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... Books come in a set range of sizes because of publication limitations; when you're printing several hundred thousand copies, they need to be the same, and it's easier to arrange layouts of lots of books on a standard template. There's no need to extend this to ebooks....
Yes, there is, in some instances. Often people buy a hardcover, because it looks nicer - the publisher has spent more resources to ensure good design and layout. Some people value this.

As to screen-size standardization, it is effectively here, since there are a limited number of manufacturers. But think of it as printing paper size-standardization - it's dictated by the hardware (your home/office printer) and paper manufacturers produce certain precise sizes.

Similarly, magazine sizes are more or less standard, because of shelf requirements, as well as postage regulations.


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... Design is of great importance for magazines because page real estate was valuable--because printing costs money. When page counts are irrelevant, there's no need to put text in columns with pictures to one side or the other--pictures can be inline with the text, or a chart can have its own page. ....
You're kidding here, right?

Or just don't know, and don't care, about how things look. But many do, and they pay good money for it: think Barcelona chair vs. Laz-y-Boy

For plain text, the publisher may be happy to give the reader control over fonts, sizes, reflow, etc.. But in many instances, where presentation is important, it would not be a good idea.

Again, my point is: Why two or more standards, which will only confuse the consumer, and fragment the market?

Does the new Adobe PDF do everything EPUB does, including reflow? If it does, then what exactly is the issue?

So, PDF can do simple, it can reflow, but it can also do complex design, and can do desktop and web.

On the other hand, EPUB cannot do complex pages, like the one attached above.

My question is, what purpose does it serve, to have EPUB for simple text pages, but PDF for complex ones, when PDF can do both?

Last edited by Sonist; 05-07-2009 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:00 PM   #37
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Thanks, JSWolf. I just looked at the file in Calibre, and it looks good. But am I wrong to assume, that everything your EPUB file does, can be done just as well, with the new version of Adobe?
"Here's an $800 piece of software that works just as well as that free open source program!" is not going to be a convincing argument for many people.

[quote]Just like the web, e-publishing will evolve from mostly text-based, limited design pages, to richer, more print-like look - see for instance the image attached.[quote]

Why should it move towards fixed-size, fixed-shape, publisher-established instead of reader-adjustable settings? Why not move toward more flexibility--hyperlinked documents, search features, choice of standard layouts plus the option for customized views? (Which part of the web has moved to be "more print-like?")

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A page like this should not reflow, because it will lose its visual effect.
Granted. But novels and articles should reflow... and PDF is poor with that. And I suspect reflowable prose is more important to more readers than flashy visual layouts are to those who like them.

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My point is, why not just use one format, from desktop to ereader, for complex layout pages which should not reflow, as well as for simple text pages which should reflow? The only format I know, which can do all this, is PDF.
PDF doesn't reflow well, especially if the original is complex. It doesn't edit easily; changing the fonts is not a matter of a simple search & replace in an html file. Learning to edit the aspects of PDF that are editable is difficult. Good PDF layout is a learned skill that many people don't have, and generic Word formatting thrown to PDF is a lot harder on readers than generic Word formatting thrown to ePub or mobi. (Neither of which have 1 1/4" margins as default settings.) Good PDF creation & manipulation software is not free, and not cheap.

PDFs don't easily resize for smaller screens than they were designed for. Even if we have "standard size" readers & files, there'll be more than one, and textbooks designed for a 10" screen still won't work well on my Sony PRS-505.

All of these are non-fixable drawbacks of PDFs. The problems with ePub--lack of good, simple, open source creation software; lack of some CSS features, lack of DRM varieties (if one considers that a problem) and so on--are fixable.
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:42 PM   #38
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[QUOTE=Elfwreck;450875]... [quote]Just like the web, e-publishing will evolve from mostly text-based, limited design pages, to richer, more print-like look - see for instance the image attached.
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Why should it move towards fixed-size, fixed-shape, publisher-established instead of reader-adjustable settings? Why not move toward more flexibility--hyperlinked documents, search features, choice of standard layouts plus the option for customized views? (Which part of the web has moved to be "more print-like?")....
For the same reason, publishing is not done using MS Word.

Design is important, often as important as the content, and sometimes more important. The web is certainly moving this way, and it has come a long way, visually, since its barely formatted, reflowing text origins.

I hear these arguments all the time, from the backroom, where the techs just don't understand why anyone cares how things look, as long as they function.

But people are affected by how things look: I assume you do not pick sexual/life partners, based only on functionality....

If there is screen-size standardization, there would be less need to reflow, and better opportunities to present a well-formatted page.

But, let's talk about reflow, since you deem it to be the great benefir of EPUB. As far a I can tell, you are incorrect about the new Adobe's lack of reflow ability. You can also change font sizes, search, zoom, etc..

So for text-based material, you'd still be able to change font sizes, and reflow for a 2" screen, to your heart's content.

I don't feel strongly against EPUB, but was just surprised at the outcry about it missing from the K DX's feature set. Other than possibly price (about which I am not informed), I still don't see any real need for it.

I'd rather all the myriad incompatible formats died a peaceful death, so that all ebooks work across all platforms, and can be presented as appropriate, for a very wide range of purposes. It would make life easier for consumers, publishers and manufacturers, and would facilitate faster adoption of the media.
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:07 PM   #39
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The two are now side by side on the E-book Reader Matrix. I agree that the cost isn't the primary issue (although my guess is that Amazon has set an upper price limit for 9.7" devices). I really wanted to buy the DR1000SW, but will this ever come out and if so will it have "good enough" software? I have preordered a KDX, but an alternative from iRex or Sony (or anyone) could change my mind.
The IRex Reader runs under Linux so you can convert all kinds of GNU-Software. I see no problem in that.
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:19 PM   #40
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But, let's talk about reflow, since you deem it to be the great benefir of EPUB. As far a I can tell, you are incorrect about the new Adobe's lack of reflow ability. You can also change font sizes, search, zoom, etc..
The Desktop Adobe Digital Editions does not reflow PDFs. You can reflow some PDFs with the mobile Adobe Digital Editions. However, it is not currently possible to reflow all PDFs with ADE or any other software. The ones that reflow well are generally the ones that don't have fancy layouts. For example, it is entirely possible to layout a PDF by taking the 1st word of the page at putting it in the top left, then taking the last word on the page and putting it in the bottom right, then do the same with the 2nd and 2nd last etcetera. This would be very hard to reflow but it might look exactly the same on the original page as the simplest version created directly from a text file (which would trivially reflow). I am taking an extreme example, but the point is that PDFs don't have to be reflowable.

On the other hand, the point about ePub is that it is designed to reflow, so there is almost no such thing as a non-reflowable ePub (an ebook entirely of images would not be reflowable).
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:39 PM   #41
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The problem with PDF is that many people find it hard to read PDFs on their portable devices: the very features that make it so useful for printed documents work against it when it comes to reading on a screen.

It does some things very well, other things not as well - and forcing people to use it for the things it does not do well is not a recipe for success.
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:45 PM   #42
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I see that nobody has mentioned that with a Mac one can save to PDF anything that can be printed. I believe in the paperless environment and print most things to PDF and save them electronically. At the moment, to send those documents to my Kindle I must either save the document twice or convert the PDF file that I generated so easily. I don't see a selection on my print menu to save as e-pub.
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:55 PM   #43
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The Desktop Adobe Digital Editions does not reflow PDFs. You can reflow some PDFs with the mobile Adobe Digital Editions. However, it is not currently possible to reflow all PDFs with ADE or any other software. The ones that reflow well are generally the ones that don't have fancy layouts.....
Thanks for the explanation, wallcraft. I think I do understand EPUB a bit better now.

I was speaking about the Mobile ADE, which was licensed by Amazon, and which presumably would be used for e-readers.

And I am speaking of reflowing text without fancy layout, such as most literature, or even textbooks. Presumably the Mobile ADE would work as well as EPUB for this.

But there other applications, where one does not want to allow a reflow (the mag cover attached above is one example.) It is the same on the web now - there many pages designed to be shown only as the publisher intends, and many of these would not be well-suited for small deices (iPhone's Safari a possible exception, as well as the mobile Opera, sort of.)

My point was, if we can have the same format, which can reflow simple layouts, but can also show complex layouts like the magazine cover above, as intended, why not use it for both?

I guess, I should ask, can EPUB show the Nylon cover above, in the way it is intended to look by the publisher?
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:56 PM   #44
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Yes it will help formating of such documents, but I'm not so sure how common PDF usage on Kindles is. Personally I don't have any PDfs, I suppose people using kindle for tech manuals will be celebrating.

As for the DX can't wait to get my hands onto it. It looks like a lucky relative of mine will inherit my Kindle 2 hehe
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Old 05-07-2009, 10:38 PM   #45
Ankh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemurion View Post
It does some things very well, other things not as well - and forcing people to use it for the things it does not do well is not a recipe for success.
The darn thing gives you a total control of the available screen/paper, and that's what the trouble with PDF is. Once the publishers figure out that Adobe Mobile Platform proliferation gives them a choice, I am afraid that Sony 505/700 formatted PDF's will show up.

These still work for ADE on PC... And, what would be the benefit of DRMed ePub over the DRMed PDF for a publisher?
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