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Old 05-21-2009, 12:55 PM   #1
Elissa Malcohn
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Ebook reader survey on preferred format(s)

This link came via Cecilia Tan on Twitter:
http://www.ll-publications.com/ebooksurvey.html

Survey is conducted by LL Publications in Scotland.

Elissa
http://home.earthlink.net/~emalcohn/index.html
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Old 05-21-2009, 01:09 PM   #2
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Oh Gawd, that is awful! 52% prefer PDF????? Who are they surveying, people who work at Adobe or something?
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Old 05-21-2009, 01:15 PM   #3
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I think PDF just has that brand recognition that ePub hasn't gained yet. Give it time and we're either going to see the death of PDF as an ebook format, or PDF so radically different and useful that it'll kill the other formats (not that I'd want this to happen).
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Old 05-21-2009, 01:18 PM   #4
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I don't really have a preference. Text is text for a casual reader like me. But voted Kindle Mobi since I only own a Kindle 1.

But I don't really care if that wins the format war anyway, since I only buy ebooks I only intend to read once, and if I end up loving something and want to re-read it I'll buy a hardback. So I don't care if I can access my books years down the road and what not.
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Old 05-21-2009, 01:23 PM   #5
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There was a survey that showed 50% of the eBook market read their books on PC/Laptops. I suspect that those folks prefer PDF. Along with the fact that people know PDF it's been around for a while.

I voted for MOBI. I think it's a bad survey, as they split up MOBI and Kindle. It should have been the same option. And that would have changed the number from 9.8% to 19.8%.

Also it includes MS Word along with text/html. That is just wrong. Any device can read HTML/Text, even an MP3 player but only PC/MAC with word can read word documents.

People who write surveys really need to think them out. The only valid data this survey conveys is that PDF is still the dominate format.

=X=

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Old 05-21-2009, 01:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe View Post
I think PDF just has that brand recognition that ePub hasn't gained yet. Give it time and we're either going to see the death of PDF as an ebook format, or PDF so radically different and useful that it'll kill the other formats (not that I'd want this to happen).
PDF is radically different than the first day it came out. Somewhere midway between the beginning 1993 (?) to now, we have PDF able to have an OCR text layer for scanned images. This wasn't possible at first. Commenting on PDFs also previously was not possible. Now it is.

PDF continues to change.
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Old 05-21-2009, 01:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe View Post
I think PDF just has that brand recognition that ePub hasn't gained yet. Give it time and we're either going to see the death of PDF as an ebook format, or PDF so radically different and useful that it'll kill the other formats (not that I'd want this to happen).
I don't think this is true. What I suspect is Adobe will just make their Digital Editions API more robust and handle PDF reflow better. PDF has a lot of built in features (text entry, annotation, security, etc...). I don't see PDF going away.
It's also a format they own and they will fight hard to keep that a dominate format.

Though I would not mind if PDF did go away.

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Old 05-21-2009, 02:44 PM   #8
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People who write surveys really need to think them out.
Actually, I tend to think the opposite. That in general the people who write surveys DO think them out. In such a way that they support the conclusion they want.

You can view this on polls listed on MobileRead even. There was a poll not that long ago that had one No option, and like four Yes options. The creator seemed to be favouring the No in his own text. As the poll went on you had No with somewhere in the 30% range, and the best any Yes option afforded was perhaps 20%, at quick glance to someone not paying attention it appears that No is the majority vote. And this is how many of the professional polls are run. They will show people the results as;
  • No - 30%
  • Yes - I think we should pay more attention to how polls are worded - 20%
And leave off the other options.

-MJ
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Old 05-21-2009, 02:45 PM   #9
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There was a survey that showed 50% of the eBook market read their books on PC/Laptops. I suspect that those folks prefer PDF. Along with the fact that people know PDF it's been around for a while.
I use a netbook for eBook reading and I prefer PDFs, so maybe you are right and a lot of other people think that way.

Then again, I am also partial to txt. It's so... minimalist.
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Old 05-21-2009, 02:48 PM   #10
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PDF is radically different than the first day it came out. Somewhere midway between the beginning 1993 (?) to now, we have PDF able to have an OCR text layer for scanned images. This wasn't possible at first. Commenting on PDFs also previously was not possible. Now it is.

PDF continues to change.
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I don't think this is true. What I suspect is Adobe will just make their Digital Editions API more robust and handle PDF reflow better. PDF has a lot of built in features (text entry, annotation, security, etc...). I don't see PDF going away.
It's also a format they own and they will fight hard to keep that a dominate format.

Though I would not mind if PDF did go away.

=X=
I'm really interested in how you think it might go with PDF. At the moment it annoys me to no end when I get hold of an A4 sized PDF and try to read it on my Sony.

Do you think there might be a time when PDF's, no matter the size of the original document, will have a true reflow capability across the board? (without the original layout being messed up). Is there a possibility that PDF will become the 'only' format for various types of electronic documents? What do you think the future holds for PDF as say compared to ePub and other formats?

I only ask because I don't know enough about PDF and the possibilities of that format.
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Old 05-21-2009, 03:10 PM   #11
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I use a netbook for eBook reading and I prefer PDFs, so maybe you are right and a lot of other people think that way.

Then again, I am also partial to txt. It's so... minimalist.
Just out of curiosity, are the eBooks you are reading in PDF format novels & simple text based non-fiction or are they image laden technical manuals, textbooks and the like?

-MJ
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Old 05-21-2009, 03:18 PM   #12
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...
Do you think there might be a time when PDF's, no matter the size of the original document, will have a true reflow capability across the board? (without the original layout being messed up).....
"Reflow" and "original layout" are mutually exclusive, by definition.

I think as larger screens come to market and become more affordable, and as more varied publication are viewed on such screens, PDF will come to dominate the market. As it does now, in reality.
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Old 05-21-2009, 03:31 PM   #13
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"Reflow" and "original layout" are mutually exclusive, by definition.

I think as larger screens come to market and become more affordable, and as more varied publication are viewed on such screens, PDF will come to dominate the market. As it does now, in reality.
I should have worded that better I suppose I was hinting at a kind of Create PDF > View Anywhere (comfortably) kind of situation and the likelihood of that happening (probably not as I read more about PDF).

I hate to admit it, but I think you're right on the PDF domination aspect, even though I prefer open formats. Just look at .doc(x) vs the Open Document format. The vast majority of people know and use .doc and the Open Document format is used and known by a small percentage.
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Old 05-21-2009, 03:37 PM   #14
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PDF is a display format. Whatever other gimmicks it was taught in recent times, its chief virtue--despite also being the biggest complaint against it on the mobileread forums--is that whatever you "(type)set" on it stays set, where it is, as it is.

My personal hope and prophecy is that once the technology matures:

- eBook readers will be more or less uniform in their screen size--about 6 inches by 9 inches or so should do it--and PDF eBooks will be specifically formatted with that in mind.

or, if screen size does not become sufficiently standard, then:

- PDFs will support not font resizing, but rather the containment of multiple version of the same document but in different versions (like different font-sizes), giving the reader a choice and/or deciding based on factors like the display device's characteristics which version to display.

A reflowed novel with nothing but (typographically) dull old paragraphs might look more or less the same and equally readable at all font sizes; but anything typographically more complex really does have to be typeset for the destination format (i.e.: display size) to work.

Electronic book readers will have to either become standardized enough for sound typesetting (necessarily PDF or something very like it) to be trivially achievable with published eBooks (i.e.: generating from the same master as the dead-tree version, just tweaked)... or they'll never gain widespread use (or, at least, not more widespread use than dead-tree books).

I say this because I see humanity (or even just its affluent portions thereof) neither willing to abandon the several hundred years (if not more) developed art of typography (whose main goal, by the way, is to enhance readability), nor willing to primitivise all future books (e.g.: think text books, magazines, poetry, illustrated stories, pages with embedded quotes, marginal notes, et al) so that eBook readers' automatic reflow cannot butcher them too badly.

When PDF fails for people with eBook readers, it fails not because it isn't the right format (unless, of course, their reading device altogether does not support it) but because proper care was not taken by the publisher or eBook maker to customize it for their display device. Or because the person needs what is essentially a large print edition, and, again, the person making the PDF did not take the additional 2-20 minutes to create it. (Yesterday I created 8 custom PDFs that cover most 2nd generation devices in about 2 hours, with a workflow figured out as I went: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47316 )

My 0.02€.

- Ahi
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Old 05-21-2009, 03:40 PM   #15
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I hate to admit it, but I think you're right on the PDF domination aspect, even though I prefer open formats.
PDF is an open standard, actually... or, rather, has been for a little less than a year now.

See Wikipedia for more info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDF
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