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Old 04-20-2009, 11:22 PM   #1
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A Comparison of format limitations based on The Hobbit

In an attempt to answer the question "is there a best format" for recent ebooks from a mainstream publisher, I have made screenshots of Tolkein's The Hobbit from Harper Collins in six ebook formats on a Desktop PC. There are already a few screenshots and other comments on formatting in Lord of the Rings Now Available! KINDLE, EPUB, PDF, LIT, and MOBI but that thread is too long to concentrate of formatting. Since all versions are presumably made from the same "master" copy, it isn't all that surprising that there is relatively little difference.

The six images are MOBI, LIT, eReader, ePub, LRX, and PDF. They are all from the 1st page of the 1st chapter. I can post other screenshots if anyone has other pages they would like to see. The readers have not been made consistent, for example I have not always chosen the same font or font size where this is under user control. I bought both a FictionWise and a BoB (OverDrive) MOBI, but these seem to be identical so only one is shown here. I assume the Kindle version is the same (it is the same filesize).

I was surprised that many of the illustrations are in landscape mode. This isn't too bad for a handheld device, but does not work well on a desktop.

The eReader and MOBI versions are about 1MB, the ePub, LIT and PDF versions are about 4MB and the LRX a bit larger still. This might imply that eReader and MOBI versions have smaller image files.

EDIT: FictionWise has released a "quick" fix of the eReader version. The final version is due May 1st. I have added its screenshot as a 7th image (original is image 3). This is more similar to the other versions.
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Last edited by wallcraft; 04-24-2009 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 04-20-2009, 11:23 PM   #2
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Goodness. You bought every format?

BOb
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Old 04-20-2009, 11:30 PM   #3
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You bought every format?
Yes. That is why I looked at the Hobbit, since it is cheaper than the full Lord of the Rings.
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Old 04-20-2009, 11:44 PM   #4
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Wallcraft, thank you for making the financial sacrifice to do this. This is indeed a valuable post to make the comparisons between the different formats.

The eReader version looks the worse to me. While I like the LRX version the best, you can't remove the DRM and the PDF version is not flexible enough to work with.

That leaves the mobi, lit, and epub versions which appear to be all on par.

After all that I've read and learned from the many intelligent people on this forum, I'm guessing that epub is the best source format, followed by lit, then mobi when thinking about converting to other formats.

Last edited by All4Fun; 04-20-2009 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 04-20-2009, 11:55 PM   #5
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Wallcraft, are you able to take an image from mobi (any image) and compare it to epub please? With the filesize difference between mobi and epub, I'm expecting (hoping) that the image is of a higher quality in the epub version.
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Old 04-21-2009, 12:06 AM   #6
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A very nice comparison. Your effort is much appreciated. The Adobe PDF looks the best, at least on the computer. I doubt it translates well to a device, though. Still in two minds whether I should get epub or lit, though... On the computer, I like MS Reader better and it's easy enough to convert to epub. Big favor, would it be possible for you to unDRM the lit version, convert to epub with Calibre and post a screenshot?
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Old 04-21-2009, 12:22 AM   #7
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The images are vastly different in size. The ePub and LIT versions have very large images, the largest is the Map of Wilderland, which is 1,547KB and 1600x1258. The MOBI version is 81KB and 586x481. The eReader version is smaller still, 38KB and 360x282. The ePub version resizes to fit the screen, so it is probably an image inside a SVG. The PDF version is across 2 pages, and unfortunately the double page ADE option does not show both pages of the figure.

EDIT: FictionWise has released a "quick" fix of the eReader version. The final version is due May 1st. I have added its screenshot as a 7th image (original is image 3). The images seems clearer, but I can't tell how big it is (because the eReader ebook is DRM-free, so it is harder to explode to extract the image).
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Last edited by wallcraft; 04-24-2009 at 09:54 PM.
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Old 04-21-2009, 12:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post
would it be possible for you to unDRM the lit version, convert to epub with Calibre and post a screenshot?
The LIT2PUB (using any2epub) works pretty well, the "Chapter 1" ends up on its own page though. I found that LIT2MOBI worked better than EPUB2MOBI (both via any2mobi) at least for images, but EPUB2MOBI gave the best transfer for the Chapter 1 page.
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Old 04-21-2009, 01:08 AM   #9
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Thank you very much for that!

I think I know the reason why there's a pagebreak between "Chapter I" and "An Unexpected Party". The default chapter detection scheme checks for the words chapter, book, section and part inside <h1> and <h2> tags. The part in An Unexpected Party probably triggered this, hence it was recognized as its own chapter. It should be easy enough to get around this by changing the regular expression any2epub uses or by disabling automatic chapter detection.
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Old 04-21-2009, 01:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
The LIT2PUB (using any2epub) works pretty well, the "Chapter 1" ends up on its own page though. I found that LIT2MOBI worked better than EPUB2MOBI (both via any2mobi) at least for images, but EPUB2MOBI gave the best transfer for the Chapter 1 page.
I used MobiPocket to import the ePUB to MOBI. The tool did a fantastic job.

BTW this is the best ePUB version I've seen. I only wish publishers are going to continue making ePUB with this quality.

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Old 04-21-2009, 02:19 AM   #11
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I used MobiPocket to import the ePUB to MOBI. The tool did a fantastic job.
I agree. The ePub to MOBI capability with the latest Windows Desktop MobiPocket Reader is much better than it used to be. The resulting images are the same size as those in the original MOBI, so mobigen or something similar has been used to create the MOBI and it is automatically reducing the size (both the size on the screen and the filesize) of the original images.
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Old 04-21-2009, 03:56 AM   #12
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Where did you get the LRX from?

Hi Wallcraft,

Thank you so much for doing this. As a newbie to ebooks it's good to see the differences.

Can I take it that you bought the LRX from the Sony Store? I can't buy from the Sony store because I am outside of the USA but I would like to buy this book in the best format for my PRS-505 and I am guessing that this format would be the best. Is that correct?

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Old 04-21-2009, 04:40 AM   #13
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Hi Dave,

You can buy from the Sony Store if you use gift vouchers. Contact "Leaping Gnome" by PM, and he'll be happy to buy them for you in return for PayPal payment.
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Old 04-21-2009, 08:12 AM   #14
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Wallcraft, thank you again for putting this together. It has helped to clear up a number of questions that I had previously about the different formats.
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Old 04-21-2009, 09:21 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
The LIT2PUB (using any2epub) works pretty well, the "Chapter 1" ends up on its own page though. I found that LIT2MOBI worked better than EPUB2MOBI (both via any2mobi) at least for images, but EPUB2MOBI gave the best transfer for the Chapter 1 page.
What was the problem with the images when converting from epub to mobi?
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