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Old 01-05-2010, 08:22 AM   #1
jaqian
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Arrow Newb Alert: Confusing Formats - Whats Best?

I kinda getting big into ebooks now and would like to know more about the formats, a dummies guide if there is one

At the moment I read only *.pdf as I know like *.mp3's it will still be readable in years to come.

I've heard of ePUB, Mobi, LRF among others and was wondering if...

1). Are some formats solely DRM locked?
2). Can formats be converted easily from one to another?
3). What is the benefit of ePUB, Mobi, LRF over each other?

Thanks in Advance,
Rob
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:09 AM   #2
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1. Yes
2. Yes, use Calibre (after liberating the ebook from it's DRM)
3. epub and mobi are like pdf in that they are more open, and can be read on "most" ereaders. lrf and lrx are Sony readers only. Kindle and Nook have their own format/drm as well.

At this point many are saying epub may end up the universal format.... time will tell.
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Old 01-05-2010, 10:26 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaqian View Post
At the moment I read only *.pdf as I know like *.mp3's it will still be readable in years to come.
Most formats can be pretty easily converted to (X)HTML - in fact several are basically just containers for HTML files+images - which is arguably a safer long-term bet.

Quote:
1). Are some formats solely DRM locked?
I can't think of any formats off-hand that only exist in infected versions.

Quote:
2). Can formats be converted easily from one to another?
Yes (after disinfecting any DRM). Depending on source/output format, this may require some manual fiddling to get optimal output after conversion.

Quote:
3). What is the benefit of ePUB, Mobi, LRF over each other?
For general fiction reading, none. Pick the format your favourite reader (app or device) uses and convert into it as needed.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pardoz View Post
I can't think of any formats off-hand that only exist in infected versions.
I'm not 100% sure but I would doubt there's any DRM-free Topaz out there.

As for the preferred format thing, I've found both E-Pub and Mobi to convert quite cleanly. I don't have a wide experience with different formats but it seems hard to go wrong with either of these. If I had to choose just one for archiving, I'd go with a DRM-free E-Pub since it seems to be usable on more devices and reading applications.


For those that may not be familiar with Topaz, it is an Amazon proprietary format with a DRM that is not yet circumvented. The vast majority of Amazon's books are not Topaz. They're .azw which is mostly different from .mobi in name. It's stripped and converted just as easily and often with the same tools.

The Topaz format is far less common at Amazon. It appears to be a mostly a scan of a book, though it will reflow and must have some amount of OCR since you can search it. No one's found a way to get around the DRM yet. The annoying thing about this is the fact that when you find a book in Topaz, it likely isn't legally available anywhere else. But, like I said, it's still fairly rare.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Alisa View Post
I'm not 100% sure but I would doubt there's any DRM-free Topaz out there.
There's at least some. See here (and another thread or two on the MR forums) for more details. Last I looked nobody's managed to convert it into a friendlier format, but the DRM seems to be a solved problem.
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:54 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Bremen Cole View Post
Kindle and Nook have their own format/drm as well.
Except for Topaz, the Kindle .azw format is mobi.
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaqian View Post
1). Are some formats solely DRM locked?
2). Can formats be converted easily from one to another?
3). What is the benefit of ePUB, Mobi, LRF over each other?
1) None that you can create. Amazon's Topaz is only sold DRM'd, as was Sony's LRX, but that one's been retired. (There are some other legacy formats that were only sold in DRM'd formats; you can safely ignore their existence.)

2) Depends on what you think "easy" means. Calibre will convert several ebook formats to several other ebook formats, but how well the formatting is retained depends a lot on the original format & metadata. However, format-conversion in a basic sense, for non-DRM'd ebooks, is not difficult (install software, click "open/import file," save as new format), and the crew here at Mobileread are always happy to offer help with specific cases.

3) I wrote a now-somewhat-outdated introduction to ebook filetypes a while ago. Right now, a lot of the pros and cons are "what devices read this filetype?" and that's shifting rapidly.

Epub is a very versatile format, with many formatting options. Drawback: many of the devices that read it, don't support all those options. EPub is both a delight and a mess for conversion purposes--it's *easy* to work with, but the options that are supported differently on ever reader & program make it troublesome to get consistent results.

PRC/Mobi's biggest drawback seems to be that it's proprietary; at any time, Amazon could stop supporting it, or make changes to it that make previous books incompatible with software that supports new ones. I don't know if it's got the image-size restrictions that PDB does. Mobi is relatively easy to convert to & from.

LIT works very well on Windows-based machines. It doesn't work at all on non-Windows machines, and it requires Internet Explorer to download the DRM'd ebooks. (LIT has a special niche in ebookishness because it was cracked early and remains easy to crack & convert.)

LRF is now a legacy filetype; Sony's no longer supporting it. It doesn't really matter how good it is (it's fine; its biggest flaw was only being available for Sony readers), because filetypes restricted to a single device-line are pretty much doomed in the marketplace. However, the existing LRFs here at MR are excellent, and look better than most commercially-made ebooks. LRF is hard to convert from. (It takes troublesome software, and formatting may be lost.)
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Old 01-05-2010, 04:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaqian View Post
I kinda getting big into ebooks now and would like to know more about the formats, a dummies guide if there is one
A Guide to eBook Formats on my website
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Old 01-12-2010, 10:55 AM   #9
jaqian
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Thanks for al the info lads. Looks like ePub is my new favourite format (alongside PDF). As they say I want to start as I mean to continue i.e. I want to own my digital library and not just lease it like so much of the DRM stuff.

Cheers,
Rob
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