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Old 04-19-2010, 03:44 PM   #1
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Question Format Differences Question

I'm confused. I've kept up with most of the entries in this forum and I keep hearing members say they prefer one format over another. I think that is fine, no problem here.

My question is... What IS the differences in the formats?

As a secretarial-trained word-processing expert, when you get text on the screen, (other than non-reflow pdf's), it's pretty much the same.

You can have paragraph indented or extra line between paragraphs. You can change your fonts face and font sizes, you can center your Chapter Headings, etc.

So what is it about the different ebook formats that causes a person to prefer one over the other?

I have experience with Word Perfect files, txt, rtf, prc/mobi, epub, and of course pdb. I have not had experience with fb2, ereader, lit, ???, ...


Can someone who is familiar with these provide a comparison to clarify my confusion .

Thanks,
AJ
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Old 04-19-2010, 04:53 PM   #2
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I feel format is a "choice" thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ Starr View Post
I'm confused. I've kept up with most of the entries in this forum and I keep hearing members say they prefer one format over another. I think that is fine, no problem here.

My question is... What IS the differences in the formats?

As a secretarial-trained word-processing expert, when you get text on the screen, (other than non-reflow pdf's), it's pretty much the same.

You can have paragraph indented or extra line between paragraphs. You can change your fonts face and font sizes, you can center your Chapter Headings, etc.

So what is it about the different ebook formats that causes a person to prefer one over the other?


Can someone who is familiar with these provide a comparison to clarify my confusion .

Thanks,
AJ
I have experience with Word Perfect files, txt, rtf, prc/mobi, epub, and of course pdb. I have not had experience with fb2, ereader, lit, ???, ...

Dear AJ:

I think a lot of what we post on this form is just choice. Some people love EPUB as it appears to be the universal format of choice by the IDPF. Some find FB2 to be easier to work with. I will let others post their choices and why. Immediately, to my mind, comes the fact that EPUB gives you 9 font choices and works with Text-To-Speech. Some other formats will also do one or even both... but EPUB is a great start. PDF is little more than a picture of a page hopefully reflowed to fit. It does work with TTS.

I think the nicest thing is that the EZ Reader line has 20-21 formats and there IS a choice.

However, Astak's new eBook Store (www.EZread.com) is ONLY PDF and EPUB to prevent download confusion and the store has the lowest prices. I think that is a plus for these two formats.
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Old 04-19-2010, 05:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robertb View Post
I have experience with Word Perfect files, txt, rtf, prc/mobi, epub, and of course pdb. I have not had experience with fb2, ereader, lit, ???, ...

Dear AJ:

I think a lot of what we post on this form is just choice. Some people love EPUB as it appears to be the universal format of choice by the IDPF. Some find FB2 to be easier to work with. I will let others post their choices and why. Immediately, to my mind, comes the fact that EPUB gives you 9 font choices and works with Text-To-Speech. Some other formats will also do one or even both... but EPUB is a great start. PDF is little more than a picture of a page hopefully reflowed to fit. It does work with TTS.

I think the nicest thing is that the EZ Reader line has 20-21 formats and there IS a choice.

However, Astak's new eBook Store (www.EZread.com) is ONLY PDF and EPUB to prevent download confusion and the store has the lowest prices. I think that is a plus for these two formats.
Robert, I'm very pleased with my PP and aware of all it's capabilities. My question was What is it about the different formats that people prefer over the other formats. We have people on here who do not have an ereader of any kind, saying they have how-ever-many books in a particular format and wish to keep that format over changing it.

I was just wondering what it is about their format that they prefer, and the best way to do that would be to have a comparison of the same book showing the different formats. Since I don't use .lit, fb2, ereader, etc, I was wondering if someone could provide a definitive difference in these formats.

I could certainly provide prc, epub, html, pdf, txt and rtf, but not the others. And I'm curious about their reasons. (Who knows, they may could convert me...)

Thanks,
AJ
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Old 04-19-2010, 05:53 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ Starr View Post
My question is... What IS the differences in the formats?

As a secretarial-trained word-processing expert, when you get text on the screen, (other than non-reflow pdf's), it's pretty much the same.

You can have paragraph indented or extra line between paragraphs. You can change your fonts face and font sizes, you can center your Chapter Headings, etc.

So what is it about the different ebook formats that causes a person to prefer one over the other?
A really good place to start to learn about ebook formats is the Wiki right here on MobileRead:
http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-book_formats
You can click on any format in the list to see more detailed information about the different ebook formats.

What you mention in your question only deals with the end results of using a particular format and not on how those results are achieved. Many formats are closed standards, so that any third party reader programs need to reverse engineer the format in order to display the text on the screen. A prime example of this seems to be all the trouble trouble people have with the Microsoft LIT format. Formats like EPUB and FB2 are open standards that any reader program developer can access the standards to learn how to make the best display possible of the format. EPUB is is a very rich formatting system with a lot of power in creating complex documents. The disadvantage of EPUB comes when DRM is used, because currently only one relatively primitive software from Adobe can read a DRM EPUB document, so the end user has very little control of how the book is displayed. FB2 is also an open standard, but has no DRM capability. Yet. FB2 is not as powerful as EPUB for complex documents but is superb at rendering documents like fiction novels. I think that FB2 is relatively similar to RTF as far as Reader experience is concerned, but FB2 is a much clearer and more compact format for working with the book creation.
As far as a user with the concerns you have mentioned, it probably comes down more to the ebook reader software available to render the format than the format itself.

Readers like FBReader and CoolReader can read both FB2 and non DRM EPUB documents, and they give the reader a lot of choices for the user to determine how the book will be displayed including nearly unlimited fonts and font sizes. However, since FB2 does not support DRM, not many western publishers release books in that format, so you have to convert another format to that format to use it. The Adobe reader is very limited in that respect, but it does have text to speech capability, which I do not think any current FB2 readers have.
I am sure that this is all as clear as mud, but if if you want to delve into the details of how the different formats are built then the MobilRead Wiki is a good place to start.
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Old 04-19-2010, 07:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_S View Post
A really good place to start to learn about ebook formats is the Wiki right here on MobileRead:
http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-book_formats
You can click on any format in the list to see more detailed information about the different ebook formats.

What you mention in your question only deals with the end results of using a particular format and not on how those results are achieved. Many formats are closed standards, so that any third party reader programs need to reverse engineer the format in order to display the text on the screen. A prime example of this seems to be all the trouble trouble people have with the Microsoft LIT format. Formats like EPUB and FB2 are open standards that any reader program developer can access the standards to learn how to make the best display possible of the format. EPUB is is a very rich formatting system with a lot of power in creating complex documents. The disadvantage of EPUB comes when DRM is used, because currently only one relatively primitive software from Adobe can read a DRM EPUB document, so the end user has very little control of how the book is displayed. FB2 is also an open standard, but has no DRM capability. Yet. FB2 is not as powerful as EPUB for complex documents but is superb at rendering documents like fiction novels. I think that FB2 is relatively similar to RTF as far as Reader experience is concerned, but FB2 is a much clearer and more compact format for working with the book creation.
As far as a user with the concerns you have mentioned, it probably comes down more to the ebook reader software available to render the format than the format itself.

Readers like FBReader and CoolReader can read both FB2 and non DRM EPUB documents, and they give the reader a lot of choices for the user to determine how the book will be displayed including nearly unlimited fonts and font sizes. However, since FB2 does not support DRM, not many western publishers release books in that format, so you have to convert another format to that format to use it. The Adobe reader is very limited in that respect, but it does have text to speech capability, which I do not think any current FB2 readers have.
I am sure that this is all as clear as mud, but if if you want to delve into the details of how the different formats are built then the MobilRead Wiki is a good place to start.
Thanks for replying.

But let me reiterate---I am very familiar with the capabilities of the formats, and the programmer aspects of what is done to present the book.

I am interested in WHY a person PREFERS one format over another, end-user-wise. I guess this stems from the fact that I am not a picky person when it comes to these kind of detail, and I am curious as to WHY other people like one format over another. It doesn't matter to me whether the paragraphs are indented or an extra line between. It doesn't matter what font is used, though I do prefer san serif. What is it about the presentation of the different formats that causes people to prefer one over the other.

Or am I totally off base here?

Just curious.....

AJ

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Old 04-19-2010, 08:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ Starr View Post
Thanks for replying.

But let me reiterate---I am very familiar with the capabilities of the formats, and the programmer aspects of what is done to present the book.

I am interested in WHY a person PREFERS one format over another, end-user-wise. I guess this stems from the fact that I am not a picky person when it comes to these kind of detail, and I am curious as to WHY other people like one format over another. It doesn't matter to me whether the paragraphs are indented or an extra line between. It doesn't matter what font is used, though I do prefer san serif. What is it about the presentation of the different formats that causes people to prefer one over the other.

Or am I totally off base here?

Just curious.....

AJ

Your off Base

We have at least 2 types of users here.
Vanilla: They read the book the way it comes from the source.

Banana Split: Those who massage, add toppings to a document to present a pleasant experience on THEIR device.

My guess Vanilla prefers documents that were originally formatted for the smaller screen (like LIT, MOBI).

TXT has little embellishments, even if it does "flow" properly. DOC and RTF have embellishments to the text (Font weight, stroke).
PDF, typically was full sheet forced to re-flow

EPUB and fb2(?) were intended for book readers and offer lots more control . The question is, was the original designed for the small screen or a conversion? Is this the thinking behind "X" is better?

Lastly, there is the quirks of the e-reader device to overcome.
I have an EPUB book (Baen) that uses ". . ."
Every time that happens, a new line happens after the next word.
This makes for some odd pages on the PEz (renders normally on a few other EPUB viewers)

I also prefer portability. Brand independent formats.

Just my 2 cents
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Old 04-19-2010, 08:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ Starr View Post
So what is it about the different ebook formats that causes a person to prefer one over the other?

I have experience with Word Perfect files, txt, rtf, prc/mobi, epub, and of course pdb. I have not had experience with fb2, ereader, lit, ???, ...
1) Different devices read different formats differently. Sony PRS's read LRF as fully justified, but won't read ePub as justified, regardless of the CSS involved. Astaks are not good with .lit files; something about the way they're set up is prone to being scrambled. (I don't have an Astak device so I don't know the details; I'd assume the margins are likely to be too big, or indents are too big, or it adds extra line breaks between paragraphs, and it may move images around horribly. It may also run paragraphs together if they're short, depending on how the .lit was set up.)

The default fonts & character support may be different for different formats--some readers make txt files look good; on others, they're awful. And other device features vary by program--the Kindle doesn't annotate PDFs; the Sony doesn't allow metadata for txt files; other devices might only allow bookmarks or dictionary support for some filetypes.

2) Customizability. The device may allow custom settings for some formats and not others; the user may know how to edit some formats and not others. The ability to make personal CSS files allows a person to adjust (non-DRM'd) ePubs to his or her preferences; RTF is easily changeable by anyone.

3) Graphics. EReader PDB allows a max of 64kb per image; that means no quality graphics that'll fill a grayscale 600x800 pixel screen. (PDB was designed for 160x160 pixel screens on devices with 8mb total internal memory.) Not sure if Mobi has limitations on image size, but Mobipocket Creator may automatically condense images. Some formats don't support images (txt, palmdoc PDB); some devices may not see images in some formats (the Sony series doesn't see images in RTFs, and there've been problems with some ePubs).

4) Conversion/creation ability. I prefer custom PDFs designed for the 6" screen--but that's in part because I have all the software necessary to make them, and a lot of practice doing so. People comfortable with Mobipocket creator may prefer those to ePub because they're familiar with them, because they know what features to expect and what features they won't encounter in a file.

5) Professional ebook design. Some publishers are more careful with others about their formatting, and a person could learn to prefer whichever format their favorite publisher does best.

I'm probably missing other nuances, but that's what comes to mind right off.
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Old 04-19-2010, 08:59 PM   #8
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Um... I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but here's my thought... I've only used epub until I downloaded the most recent firmware. I decided to try out the CoolReader thing, and see what all the hype was about. So I loaded some .rtf files, and also added a .fb2 to the end of one of my epubs. The main thing I noticed was the little status bar at the top of the screen. When I read epubs with whatever software it normally uses, it's just the text on the screen, much like a paperback. But with the CoolReader, there is a status bar at the top of the screen that shows me the current time (as of the last page refresh), the page number and how many pages remaining, and the title of the book. I really like that, because when I read several books by the same author, sometimes I forget which book I'm reading. So it's nice to just glance at the top of the screen and see the title of the book. Also, when I'm reading, it's nice to be able to see how far into the book I am, and the time. When I'm reading a normal epub, I just press in the little scroll wheel on the side, and at the bottom I can see the time and the page I'm on. But it's nice to not have to press any buttons, and have that information right there.

However, I don't really want to change all of my books to another format, or even add .fb2 as an extension to the end of all my files. So for the most part, I'll just read them as they are, as epubs. It would be nice if CoolReader gave the option to open an epub, without the extra extension.

Also, I'm used to the bookmarks and zoom in epubs, so that's kind of nice. I don't really care what font I'm using. And for the books I've tried, epub had better formatting. I could get good formatting using CoolReader, but I had to play around with it until I got what I was looking for. I don't know if that's just because of that particular book, but I haven't had any trouble with formatting in epub. I like that it's already formatted.

If that's not quite what you're looking for, then hopefully someone else here can be of more help.
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Old 04-19-2010, 09:15 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Davimee View Post
Um... I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but here's my thought... I've only used epub until I downloaded the most recent firmware. I decided to try out the CoolReader thing, and see what all the hype was about. So I loaded some .rtf files, and also added a .fb2 to the end of one of my epubs. The main thing I noticed was the little status bar at the top of the screen. When I read epubs with whatever software it normally uses, it's just the text on the screen, much like a paperback. But with the CoolReader, there is a status bar at the top of the screen that shows me the current time (as of the last page refresh), the page number and how many pages remaining, and the title of the book. I really like that, because when I read several books by the same author, sometimes I forget which book I'm reading. So it's nice to just glance at the top of the screen and see the title of the book. Also, when I'm reading, it's nice to be able to see how far into the book I am, and the time. When I'm reading a normal epub, I just press in the little scroll wheel on the side, and at the bottom I can see the time and the page I'm on. But it's nice to not have to press any buttons, and have that information right there.

However, I don't really want to change all of my books to another format, or even add .fb2 as an extension to the end of all my files. So for the most part, I'll just read them as they are, as epubs. It would be nice if CoolReader gave the option to open an epub, without the extra extension.

Also, I'm used to the bookmarks and zoom in epubs, so that's kind of nice. I don't really care what font I'm using. And for the books I've tried, epub had better formatting. I could get good formatting using CoolReader, but I had to play around with it until I got what I was looking for. I don't know if that's just because of that particular book, but I haven't had any trouble with formatting in epub. I like that it's already formatted.

If that's not quite what you're looking for, then hopefully someone else here can be of more help.

Yes, these are the type of comments I was wondering about. Thank you, davimee and elfwreck. I think these comments will help newbies when they have some questions.

Keep coming with the input, everyone.

AJ

BTW, on the bar across the top of the new Coolreader-- I noticed something on an rtf file I'm writing which as a LOT of headings, not just Chapter headings but subs of subs of subs. It's like a outline manual I'm writing. Anyway, for each heading in my file, the line across the top of the screen has a vertical blip. I noticed it when I was trying out the keys for my other message on the keymapping of the Coolreader. Each time I hit the "next heading" key, it jumped to the next vertical blimp. FYI
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Old 04-20-2010, 02:43 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by AJ Starr View Post
Thanks for replying.

But let me reiterate---I am very familiar with the capabilities of the formats, and the programmer aspects of what is done to present the book.

I am interested in WHY a person PREFERS one format over another, end-user-wise.
I am sorry that I misunderstood your question.

For me, it is not so much that I prefer a particular format as it is that I prefer a particular set of reader capabilities. I have two readers, the 5" PocketPRO (Hanlin V5) and the 6" EZReader (Hanlin V3). On the Hanlin V3 with OpenInkpot, I almost always used EPUB, but on the Hanlin V5, I almost always use FB2. That is mainly because I do not like the default EPUB reading software on the Hanlin V5 (PocketPRO). My Hanlin V5 has very poor contrast compared to my Hanlin V3, and the ability to pick a good contrasty font became more important because of that difference. I also like the ability to have a book status bar at the top of the page if I want it. The FB2 format gives me a much better reading experience on My Hanlin V5. All of the other book format possibilities on my two readers have some drawbacks as compared to FB2 or EPUB.
I sometimes use RTF as an intermediate format when converting between formats, but I have never tried actually reading a novel in that format since it is not really an end use format. For now, I keep all of my books in the FB2 format because it is the most compact when ZIPed, and can be easily converted to another format in the future if necessary.
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Old 04-20-2010, 10:06 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Dave_S View Post
I am sorry that I misunderstood your question.

For me, it is not so much that I prefer a particular format as it is that I prefer a particular set of reader capabilities. I have two readers, the 5" PocketPRO (Hanlin V5) and the 6" EZReader (Hanlin V3). On the Hanlin V3 with OpenInkpot, I almost always used EPUB, but on the Hanlin V5, I almost always use FB2. That is mainly because I do not like the default EPUB reading software on the Hanlin V5 (PocketPRO). My Hanlin V5 has very poor contrast compared to my Hanlin V3, and the ability to pick a good contrasty font became more important because of that difference. I also like the ability to have a book status bar at the top of the page if I want it. The FB2 format gives me a much better reading experience on My Hanlin V5. All of the other book format possibilities on my two readers have some drawbacks as compared to FB2 or EPUB.
I sometimes use RTF as an intermediate format when converting between formats, but I have never tried actually reading a novel in that format since it is not really an end use format. For now, I keep all of my books in the FB2 format because it is the most compact when ZIPed, and can be easily converted to another format in the future if necessary.

Interesting...You say the V3 has better contrast than the V5... I haven't seen a V3 so I have no knowlege one way or another. The lastest firmware for V5 uses Coolreader V3 to read fb2's. Doesn't it give you the status bar across the top. I know for RTF's it does have the status bar, but I don't have any fb2 files to see.

The size of the file was not a feature I even thought about, thanks for bringing it up.

I keep all my master files on my PC and just copy the books I've prepared properly to my PP's SD card (with a few to the internal memory). Since I am not hurting for hard drive space, I hadn't considered size as a limiting factor.

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Old 04-20-2010, 10:27 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by AJ Starr View Post
Interesting...You say the V3 has better contrast than the V5... I haven't seen a V3 so I have no knowlege one way or another.
Please understand that I am only speaking of MY V3 and MY V5. I certainly hope that most other folks do not have a bottom of the barrel PocketPRO like the one that I have. I seldom use the V5 anymore, and just keep it around for it's convenient size for traveling.

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Originally Posted by AJ Starr View Post
The lastest firmware for V5 uses Coolreader V3 to read fb2's. Doesn't it give you the status bar across the top. I know for RTF's it does have the status bar, but I don't have any fb2 files to see.
CoolReader is the default reader for RTF as well as FB2, so the reader features are identical for both formats, although you can can make format dependent customizations using CSS files in the /crengine folder. I am currently using the Buggins' Lbook experimental firmware on both my V3 and my V5, so all the features on both readers are pretty much identical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ Starr View Post
The size of the file was not a feature I even thought about, thanks for bringing it up.

I keep all my master files on my PC and just copy the books I've prepared properly to my PP's SD card (with a few to the internal memory). Since I am not hurting for hard drive space, I hadn't considered size as a limiting factor.
I don't consider file size as a limiting factor either, I just tend to appreciate elegance and efficiency in the file format characteristics. After the first look at the internal file structure of RTF and FB2 in a text editor, I really appreciated the cleaner structure of the FB2 file format. I do like that either of those two formats can be easily edited in a standard programmer's text editor when I want to do a bit extra.
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Old 04-20-2010, 11:26 AM   #13
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For me it's simple MOBI/PRC I started reading on my netbook using Mobireader which has a ton of customizable options much like CoolReader has for the EzReader. On My Pocket Pro I only use this format because of how easy it is to use. I can change the font to whatever I want and its easy to make a TOC for the format which is a must for me. It's also easy to move and rename that format and have the book remember it settings. The bookmarking system is easy to use no holding down a button like in EPUB and it remembers exactly what paragraph I last read when returning to a book. The DRM version is easy to liberate so I can use them on my Pocket Pro which is another big reason I use this format.

I use BookDesigner and Calibre to make my MOBI files. For me the book must have Chapter Headerings, TOC and Italics. My prefer start with format is HTM, RTF or DOC to import into BookDesigner. I remove all Links, boomarks and Pics then Prettier it up a bit before saving the HTML file to import into Calibre. I use Calibre to auto make the TOC. I have no complaints with this format or how the PP reader works other then it does not remember the font I use each time I return to a book.

I haven't tried F2B yet. I have tried EPUB and didn't like it because it lacks custom fonts, the page numbers are bothersome if you don't adjust the margins and it doesn't remember where I am in a book like MOBI does. I am still using Dec firmware till it safe to upgrade to April's so haven't tried a EPUB in Coolreader yet.
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Old 04-20-2010, 11:53 AM   #14
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There are several good formats available on the PocketPro although there are some that don't work as well. The format that is best sometimes depends on the book itself. For example some books need a multi-level TOC to make them good reference books while others don't need a TOC at all. Some need images that can be flowed into the text, some need no images. The book formatting may have very specific requirements or it may work just fine in PalmDOC or even TXT. Some formats can support multiple fonts in the same file which may be needed in a particular book, while in some the user preference for the font may dominate. Some books have links between sections and need a format that supports links. Some can be searched and some cannot. Some books have special characters that may not be supported in some formats.

Some people like to customize things and pick a format that makes it look the best for them. Some like full justification while some like left justified. Some want hyphen support while some do not. There are as many different needs for users as there are different formats available. Some people really want typographic features in their books with drop caps, kerning, tracking, etc. and for them only PDF or Djvu will do the job. Some, but not all typographic features are available in ePUB. In some cases the reader can offer its own typography customization but may ignore the information built in to the eBook file. Some like a format they can take apart and fix problems.

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Old 04-20-2010, 08:30 PM   #15
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For me it isn't so much about the format as it is about the software. I do like a format that allows for bold, italic, etc., but other than that if I can read it in CoolReader I am happy. Especially what with the new Lbook firmware. There are enough settings that I can set the read just the way I like and READ.
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