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Old 07-08-2009, 08:21 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by ahi View Post
What many here tend to (dis)miss is that reflow is only necessary because both eBook technologies and the eBook market are incredibly immature. (I've elaborated on this point at downright ludicrous length elsewhere.)

No format other than PDF can achieve consistent and professional typography, and professional typography in published books (including eBooks, once publishers start to give a damn)--regardless of what myriad non-specialists altogether uninvolved in the publishing industry think--is no more likely to disappear than professionally tailored clothes.

I am sympathetic to people who are worried that format incompatibilities or PDF's inflexibility will screw them out a legitimate purchase's continued utility... but it is short-sighted to insist on fixing something that is fundamentally a consumer's rights issue by clamoring to forever handicap eBooks through the use of broken-by-design reflow formats.

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My friend it is very veryimportant what miriad of non specialists think. They are the ones deciding future of any format or invention, not a handfull of specialists. They called consumers and buyers. Ring a bell?

I hope you were joking.

Sooo, the devices are in it's infancy and the pdf format mature hmm...


I would think pdf format created for computers and devices cannot be more mature then computers themselves.
Reflow technologies are needed because devices have different screen or window sizes. I will always need my help reflowable so it doesn't use all my computer screen, and on 6' device I certainly will prefer reflowable. Why would I even think about picking "Typographic" layout if my attraction to eMedia 30% attributed to ability to change font size. Percentage grows with each passing year I must add

Yes I think you were joking.

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Old 07-08-2009, 08:31 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
That has nothing whatsoever to do with the file format. If your particular book has double-spaced paragraphs, it's because that's what the creator of that book specified, just as he could have done with a PDF. It's certainly not inherent in the format.
The mobipocket reader for PC displays the book with no separation between "paragraphs", whereas the iLiad renders the exact same file with 2-3 full lines of white.
My point isn't whether it's inherent in the format, my point is that the way the same file is rendered is inconsistent across different platforms, and non-user-specifiable. (and secondly, that the way the iLiad renders it is sub-optimal)
And that has everything to do with the file format, because non-reflowable texts do not suffer from this problem (as it isn't so much the inconsistency that annoys me, but the fact that there is so much white space between obviously-meant-to-be-contiguous 'paragraphs')

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Old 07-08-2009, 10:57 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zerospinboson View Post
As for switching between multiple devices: I do wonder how you keep track of the 'page' which you are reading if you're indeed reading the same title on all of those devices.
? Same way as I used to with my paper books. Flip around in kind of a binary search until I get to the part I left off at...
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Old 07-08-2009, 10:59 AM   #34
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Actually that's one of the weaknesses of a non reflowable format. The fact that its look and feel is set in stone and cannot be altered by the reader to suit his tastes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerospinboson View Post
The mobipocket reader for PC displays the book with no separation between "paragraphs", whereas the iLiad renders the exact same file with 2-3 full lines of white.
My point isn't whether it's inherent in the format, my point is that the way the same file is rendered is inconsistent across different platforms, and non-user-specifiable. (and secondly, that the way the iLiad renders it is sub-optimal)
And that has everything to do with the file format, because non-reflowable texts do not suffer from this problem (as it isn't so much the inconsistency that annoys me, but the fact that there is so much white space between obviously-meant-to-be-contiguous 'paragraphs')
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Old 07-08-2009, 11:04 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kovidgoyal View Post
Actually that's one of the weaknesses of a non reflowable format. The fact that its look and feel is set in stone and cannot be altered by the reader to suit his tastes.
I was already aware of that, as I believe I made clear in that post or the one before. My point was that, considering the fact that most of the mobi/epub viewing software is still immature/inconsistent in rendering the files, they're just as bad.
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Old 07-08-2009, 11:16 AM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zerospinboson View Post
I was already aware of that, as I believe I made clear in that post or the one before. My point was that, considering the fact that most of the mobi/epub viewing software is still immature/inconsistent in rendering the files, they're just as bad.
Yes, but while the possibility exists for that changin with reflowable formats, it does not with non-reflowable ones.
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Old 07-08-2009, 11:26 AM   #37
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Bad fixed-format files are just as bad as reflowable formats in a bad reader.

It's not fair to compare good fixed-format with lousy readers ("PDFs are typographical works of art, mobipocket leaves too much whitespace")

It's not fair either to compare decent readers with crappy fixed-format ("I can change fonts in the Cybook, PDFs are tiny and impossible to read")

It's true that PDFs can be made to look nicer than what reflowable format readers are capable of displaying, but the latter can still improve (and I hope they do), and no change will be needed in the ebooks, only in the reading software.
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Old 07-08-2009, 11:30 AM   #38
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The Windows Mobi Reader has a bug, which ZSB's probably fallen foul of here, whereby a "div" with nothing but white space in it is ignored, rather than being rendered as a blank line, as it should be (and is in all the other versions of the Mobi reader). That's almost certainly why the iLiad is (correctly for this file) displaying space-separated paragraphs, and Windows Mobi Reader isn't.
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Old 07-08-2009, 01:03 PM   #39
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Some say that PDF is not a very good ebook format.
For me it is my format of choice for reading public-domain books on cybook as it helps me overcome the original non-customizable layout for mobi books set by the manufacturer. Secondly, it helps me bypass the lack of fixed page numbering in reflowable formats.
On books that are available in html, e.g. on PG, I do the layout myself, I set the page size, choose my preferred font face, size and line spacing and export them as PDFs.
This way I have full control over how the ebook looks on my liseuse, so I'm independent on the manufacturers implementation of reflowable formats, no matter how good or bad it is.
And this is the strong side of PDF, it gives you full control, but only at the moment of creation. The shortcoming, of course, is that you can't make changes to the layout on the fly. But you're all aware of this.
Bottomline is that I've been using PDFs for some time, read many books this way and under the given circumstances it makes for a great and very usable ebook format.
As to Ahi's comment about reflowable formats being broken-by-design -- I haven't read your ludicrously long argumentations , still I dare to disagree.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ahi
reflow is only necessary because both eBook technologies and the eBook market are incredibly immature
Reflow addresses the problem of displaying the same text on various sizes of displays. This can't be relieved by any future breakthroughs in e-publishing technology. Reflow is to stay here with us for as long as people will read on various devices and displays of various sizes.
I see future in reflow with a far more meticulous and complex specification of layout. It could very well be PDF, there's a fat chance it might keep its prominent position among ebook formats even in 10 years, it all depends on how the issue of reflow will be tackled.
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Old 07-08-2009, 01:32 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Abelturd View Post
On books that are available in html, e.g. on PG, I do the layout myself, I set the page size, choose my preferred font face, size and line spacing and export them as PDFs.
That's what I do. I sometimes even do this for books available as PDF--first convert them to Word, touchup the line breaks where necessary, remove the page breaks, and reformat to a size & shape I enjoy reading.

I love PDFs for this, but I don't agree that every person should be an amateur typesetter to enjoy ebooks. And claiming "we should use publishing standards!" is disingenuous; the standards for publishing were designed for paper, not pixels; the concepts of good fonts, line spacing, and page layout were optimized over many years, based on the physical realities of paper.

Print publishing standards don't deal with font hinting, variable display sizes, screen refresh rates, or LCD vs other screen types, or embedding or postscript issues. Print standards were created with the premise that what the publisher made was exactly what the buyer would read... that a book (magazine, poster, whatever) looked the same no matter whose hands were holding it, no matter what kind of lamp was used to read it. (Items that looked different under different lamps are considered rare and exotic. I wonder if there's a market for black light children's books?)

It's not that I mind the idea of a publisher setting my viewscreen preferences... it's that so far, they keep setting them wrong. The free Harlequin romances (epub) I downloaded have atrociously huge margins. The free PDFs from Tor... well, they mirror print; they're awful on my Reader. The Sony-sized PDFs from Feedbooks use a much larger font than I like, and while I'll tolerate that in a paper book (erm, or I used to before I gave up paper), in an ebook, that's extra battery life, extra blinky page clicks I didn't need.

I have no reason to believe that publishers are ever going to create PDFs to match reader preferences, and so I prefer reflowable, customizable formats.
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Old 07-08-2009, 01:52 PM   #41
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While it's a great and interesting blog, I must take issue with the statement, that: "... It's no surprise to the average e-book enthusiast that PDF's fixed-page nature makes it a poor e-book format...."
Personally, I prefer to create PDFs with a fixed-page nature where the page they're fixed to is the size of my eBook device. Other than that, yeah, I can see where no reflow would be a pain if they don't match.
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Old 07-08-2009, 02:41 PM   #42
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Ahi makes really valid points, and makes them well.

We are barely entering the infancy of e-publishing. Just like at the dawn of personal computing, there are a myriad of custom screen sizes, and the experience is largely text-based.

But I think, many here are ignoring the fact, that as e-publishing matures, much more complex layouts will become available.

Also, screen sizes will become larger, and will become more standardized, as color, high-res hardware becomes available. Magazines, visually-complex titles, and ads, will demand much more robust format capabilities.

Just like many websites today are designed with minimum resolution requirements, and are of fixed layout, so it will be with many publications.

The plain, often ugly, reflowable text, on 2" screens, will one day seem like primitive notches on a stick....

Last edited by Sonist; 07-08-2009 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 07-08-2009, 02:59 PM   #43
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Actually as computing technology matures, there will be more screen sizes, not less. And color has absolutely nothing to do with anything. Both reflowable and non-reflowable formats support color equally well.
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Old 07-08-2009, 04:16 PM   #44
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Actually as computing technology matures, there will be more screen sizes, not less. And color has absolutely nothing to do with anything. Both reflowable and non-reflowable formats support color equally well.
Hm. At the dawn of personal computer civilization, 640x480 was considered big, compared to the random, but generally smaller screen sizes, found on the primitive, mostly proprietary word-processing systems of the time. The PC world was largely monochromatic, text-based, and yes, reflowable.

Today, it is much more complex, much more visual, and generally standardized along several resolution/screen sizes. And much more "designed" and "fixed."

Take even a almost purely text-based website, like mobiread.com. It is largely FIXED layout, and that's a GOOD thing. A couple of decades ago, it would have been a jumble of unformatted, reflowable, and ugly text, suitable for the 6" green screens of the time.

And color is very significant: e-readers will not really take-off until they are in full, glorious color. Because if you have larger, color screens, you will be able to view complex periodicals, and their ads. And only then will e-reading come of age.
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Old 07-08-2009, 05:23 PM   #45
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Exactly at the dawn of the computing age everythong was the same, simple layout, because that's all that the technology allowed. Only as it matured did we start getting more and different types of screen from 320x200 for a PDA or mobilephone to 1800x1200 for large desktop monitors. And mobileread is definitely reflowable, I have used it with pretty good success on screens ranging from 800x600 to 1650x1050.
In fact, as you read this post, just try resizing your browser window.

The point about color is that both types of formats support it equally well, so it is a non-issue.

And it goes beyong reflow. I've made this point before, but in the future most of the consumption of documents will be done my machines not humans. Indeed humans will only be able to consume information after one or more tyically dozens of machines have difested it. Formats that represent information semantically (and reflow is just one small side-effect of that) are going to be much more important.
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