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Old 04-14-2010, 12:07 AM   #1
ficbot
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Why do the same books look different on different readers?

I am so sick of tinkering. On the old Sony, I hacked everything from eReader into HTML, converted to LRF and everything looked great. These same HTML files, converted to mobipocket for the Kindle, looked terrible and I had to use a plain text editor to completely strip all the formatting, then save it again.

The Sony meanwhile could not justify epub files, while the Kobo I have on loan can justify some epub files but not others (and can not zoom the font on some files either, seemingly by random because people have tested these files for me on other devices and they zoom just fine).

Now, I am playing with an Aluratek Libre (may return it) and mobi which was native looks fine but mobi I convert myself from these same HTML files I cleaned up twice already (once to convert from eReader for Sony, once to re-do all clean for the Kindle) have no line breaks. Epub does justify but uses a different font than the other formats this reader supports, which cannot be changed, and two of the page-turning buttons don't work when reading epub although they work with other file types. I am debating whether it would be more work to convert these files to plain text, or to just return the Libre, get a Sony Pocket instead (but then the epub won't justify, sigh) and be done with it. Oh, and plain old ascii text from Project Gutenberg, with all its funky line breaks and awkward font? Look fabulous on the Libre.

I am baffled. I really thought I was 'future-proofing' very well with good old HTML. But now I have one device which renders my Calibre conversion as beautiful, read-able mobi and one which takes this same mobi file and hacks it all to pieces. I have one device which zooms on an epub file that another device will NOT zoom on. And this same device which hacks my beautiful mobi to pieces reads plain old text like a dream.

What's going on here? What format should I really be using if I want a good experience across the board in a reasonably future-proof way? I thought I had it all figured out already, but since my HTML is clean now and other devices are reading it fine, I have to assume the problem is with the Libre. But why would they randomly lock out two of the buttons during their otherwise satisfactory epub rendering? What possible rationale could there be for that?

*sigh* I guess I am doomed to convert everything to plain text if I keep this reader. I am using my Kindle as my main reader but wanted one with folder support for storing personal documents and magazine subscriptions from Fictionwise (multiformat, thankfully, so the mobi looks fine).
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:23 AM   #2
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Maybe you want to borrow my BeBook 1? It has folders, and more formats than you can shake a stick at. Only not lrf... Supported by Calibre, too. Oh, yes, it can do full justification if the css calls for it. And embedded fonts in epub...

It's beginning to surprise me.

All these problems make me want to set up some sort of epub compatibility & compliance project. I just have to update the firmware on my collection. Maybe we can embarrass Adobe and then Sony into updating their software...
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:49 AM   #3
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Isn't the Bebook the same as the Astak? Pholy, I am so frustrated, I just want to read some plain, simple files and the evil machines are not cooperating. Maybe I should take the Libre back and get the Sony Pocket, but it's $60 more and I would have to convert everything to epub, and then it would not be justified and I *hate* that...
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Old 04-14-2010, 02:11 AM   #4
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What's going on here? What format should I really be using if I want a good experience across the board in a reasonably future-proof way?
Currently the best bet seems to be a computer.

All the e-book readers I've checked out have been overpraised, overpriced, restrictive and under-featured. On the other hand small netbooks and tablet PCs can run whatever software and formats that you choose to instal.

I have several devices (including an e-ink reader that does an OK though limited job on plain texts). The ones that work best for me are a light 10" netbook, and a heavier 12" touch-screen tablet computer - because they both run whatever software and formats that I choose to instal. They also allow me to do all my other daily reading on the same device - i.e. online newspapers, magazines, forums, blogs, reference sites, PDFs, etc.

As computers get smaller and lighter I can see less and less reason to own a small greyish gizmo that runs only a fraction of what I need. My netbook cost approximately the same as the e-ink reader but is many times more versatile.

Of course, some people will have perfectly good reasons not to go that way, but if versatility is a priority then it might be worth considering. Something like the Asus 91 MT that jswinden describes in detail on this thread might be worth a look. He compares in to the 5 or 6 e-readers he's owned. Click on the link below:

Netbook as a Viable Ebook Reader Option

Cheers,

Chris
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Old 04-21-2010, 08:36 PM   #5
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geezz , Im happy with just what I own, the Aluratek libre!

Nothings perfect
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Old 04-22-2010, 08:08 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
Isn't the Bebook the same as the Astak? Pholy, I am so frustrated, I just want to read some plain, simple files and the evil machines are not cooperating. Maybe I should take the Libre back and get the Sony Pocket, but it's $60 more and I would have to convert everything to epub, and then it would not be justified and I *hate* that...
I'm afraid I have no solution to offer for your problems, just a question. Why is text justification so important to you? I will admit that I prefer ordinary left aligned text, but I don't feel strongly about it. I could understand strong feelings if text justification meant more content per line of text and hence more content per page. But it doesn't. It just proportions blank space at the end of the line into extra blank space between words.

I always style my EPUB books with left alignment, but if justification is the strong preference of most I may change that.
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Old 04-22-2010, 09:08 AM   #7
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I just think it looks better and more like a real book. The ragged edges at the end of the lines just annoy me.
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Old 04-22-2010, 09:44 AM   #8
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I just think it looks better and more like a real book. The ragged edges at the end of the lines just annoy me.
The ragged edges are most often to much ragged so you will see pattern or other effects that will disturb your reading.
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:06 AM   #9
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It's true, dedicated readers are being flung out so fast that many of them are essentially barely compliant in the formats they read. Hopefully, rendering engines will become more compliant and user-customizable in the future, making it easier for consumers to pick and choose the readers they prefer.

But right now, the erratic ability to read multiple formats is only one of the things that keeps me away from dedicated readers--and much happier reading on my smartphone, with its ability to load and run the reader apps I choose.
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:14 AM   #10
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Is there *any* dedicated reader out there that reads ePubs and allows the user to select, on the fly, the following:
  • font
  • font size
  • right justification on/off
  • top/left/right/bottom margins
  • space, if any, between paragraphs
  • size of indent, if any, in paragraphs
that will keep intact any usage of bold and italics *without* having to fiddle with the html and/or css or run it through Calibre to try and reformat to ones own preferences.

Does such a dedicated reader exist or will it ever?

*edit*

May as well throw in 'display ePub page numbers (yes/no)' into that perfect dedicated ePub reader for those, unlike myself, who find them distracting.

Last edited by Wetdogeared; 04-22-2010 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 04-22-2010, 11:12 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Wetdogeared View Post
  • font
  • font size
  • right justification on/off
  • top/left/right/bottom margins
  • space, if any, between paragraphs
  • size of indent, if any, in paragraphs
The Cybooks satisfy the first three, I hope future upgrades could deal with the other three (it could be done with user style-sheets, as the Calibre reader does). Note that in order for this to work, the books should not be created with any of those features hard-coded, which is not always the case (my own ePUB files define a style for the paragraphs, for instance).
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Old 04-22-2010, 02:02 PM   #12
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Hopefully, adding something relevant. If one is old enough one can recall how long it took the major Internet browsers (then IE and Netscape) to to even support anywhere near the same HTML, CSS, and DHTML. For the longest time they persisted in their own customizations. I think that we are in the same stage of infancy with respect to e-book formats and rendering, with all these different file formats out there. Toss in multiple devices and it really gets messy. That's why I hope some format is selected as standard (my choice would be EPUB) and then it can get down to achieving full and uniform compliance with the EPUB standards across all devices. Futile wish?
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Old 04-22-2010, 02:49 PM   #13
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Sheesh, I just don't get you tweekers. So long as the words are legible & the complete book is there, who cares?

It's supposed to be about reading the books, all the other stuff you all mention is just nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking!

Settling on a common format would be nice. It shoud be epub. I think it looks the best. Pdf annoys me to no end with half pages or blank pages, but I just keep hitting the next page until I get to the next page to read.

Last edited by cfrizz; 04-22-2010 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 04-23-2010, 09:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wetdogeared View Post
Is there *any* dedicated reader out there that reads ePubs and allows the user to select, on the fly, the following:
  • font
  • font size
  • right justification on/off
  • top/left/right/bottom margins
  • space, if any, between paragraphs
  • size of indent, if any, in paragraphs
that will keep intact any usage of bold and italics *without* having to fiddle with the html and/or css or run it through Calibre to try and reformat to ones own preferences.

Does such a dedicated reader exist or will it ever?

*edit*

May as well throw in 'display ePub page numbers (yes/no)' into that perfect dedicated ePub reader for those, unlike myself, who find them distracting.
Yes. FBReader (on OpenInkpot, PB301, Android, and lots of others)
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:31 PM   #15
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Yes. FBReader (on OpenInkpot, PB301, Android, and lots of others)
Thanks Nate! I'm checking out the desktop version right now to check what formatting options I have. I've never even seen FBReader in action before. This could very well influence my decision when choosing my next reader. Time for a bit of research...
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