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Old 04-26-2010, 09:53 PM   #1
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Do you care about how a book looks?

Does it bother you to read a book if it is less than perfect-looking? I am curious because I have a few books I liberated from iffy source formats (the eReader decoder produces absolutely awful HTML) and I have been avoiding reading those books in favour of other, prettier ones because it bothers me that after much effort, I cannot get them looking right. And I have some .lit books which look fine on one of my devices and not on others.

I am wondering if I am making too much of a deal about this and wasting too much time trying to make them look perfect. I do have a reader that handles plain text beautifully (and given how cheap ebook readers are becoming, I suspect I will always have a spare one at home that reads plain text). So I am wondering if it might be better to just forget about making everything look perfect. If a book is in a good format and looks wonderful, I'll read it on whatever device. And if it is iffy, I'll just extract the text, save it as a pure text file and leave it at that. I should get a reliable experience with plain text on whatever device, and then I don't have to spend more time and effort making it look pretty in whatever fancy format...

So, what do you think? If a book has iffy formatting, will you read ahead anyway? Or does it bother you enough that you'll go to lengths to fix it? Am I better just throwing in the towel on the iffy ones and reading them as plain old words?
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Old 04-26-2010, 09:58 PM   #2
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Yes, but only up to a point.

I'll make a reasonable effort to get the book properly formatted, something like the look you get running your average .lit through Calibre with default conversion settings. Paragraph indents, justified margins, italics kept intact.

But this past weekend, I had a book from an html source that I just could not get to respect paragraph breaks no matter what I tried. Finally I gave up and read it with pretty bad formatting. Big blocks of text with only a tab space to designate a paragraph break.

You know what? At first it bothered me, but after a few pages I got lost in the book anyway and just sped along through a few hundred pages over the weekend. Relatively little discomfort or awareness that it wasn't properly formatted. Maybe it's not as important as I used to think.
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Old 04-26-2010, 10:02 PM   #3
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So do you think that any device which supports plain text as a format will give a reasonably reliable experience with the same text file? One of my big annoyances has been books which look fine on one device but not another. If I knew I could save the iffy ones as plain text and be able to reliably read them on devices which support this as a format (i.e. without needing to convert them and deal with conversion issues) that might be a solution for me.
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Old 04-26-2010, 10:40 PM   #4
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Yup, you are focusing on the wrong thing. I don't really like PDFs, but once I get into the story, I forget all about the formatting. It's supposed to about the story, not how pretty it looks.
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Old 04-26-2010, 11:05 PM   #5
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I wouldn't go that far as saving everything as txt, you will lose italics and other formatting that you might appreciate, all things being equal.

I'd say that if you can't get it looking up to your normal standards with a simple conversion in Calibre or maybe a tweak or two before converting to your favorite format, then let it go... But I'd always take a few minutes to give prettying it up a shot. I won't spend an hour on it again though.
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Old 04-26-2010, 11:16 PM   #6
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formatting doesn't matter to me.......I quite like the text files myself, they're simple. As long as it doesn't change the actual shape? of the sentence so I have to reread it (I find some spelling mistakes do this) I pretty easy going...........words is words
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Old 04-26-2010, 11:50 PM   #7
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Not really, no. As you say, if it can make a text file, it will do.

People using odd punctuation encoding formatting or whatever that won't work properly on old softwear or devices you have to do this to anyway.
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Old 04-27-2010, 12:16 AM   #8
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txt is fine for me
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Old 04-27-2010, 12:22 AM   #9
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I can't read a poorly formatted book. I've gone to the darknet for books I already have in pbook that aren't available as ebooks, and it takes me an average of 3 days per book to format them back to the original, comparing every sentence to the pbook. I can understand OCR errors, but I have no clue why the paragraphing on many of these books is so atrocious.

For converting ereader books, you are much better off using the erdr2pml program as opposed to the erdr2html program. Calibre can then convert the resulting pml document to a perfect epub. I too found that converting ereader to html gave horrid output.

-Marcy
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Old 04-27-2010, 12:29 AM   #10
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Yes. it matters to me a lot. I wouldn't read a boring book just because it was well formatted, but my enjoyment of some books has been much reduced because the the formatting or number typos or both was poor. Perhaps I'm a little obsessional.

Anyway, I'm learning how to make ePub books by hand so I can get them formatted the way I want them.

Regards, Alex

Last edited by AlexBell; 04-27-2010 at 12:29 AM. Reason: to correct a typo
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Old 04-27-2010, 12:32 AM   #11
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Formatting is less of a problem for me than the poor quality of some of the commercial ebooks available.

If the story is good, I can forget about the formatting. If I'm consistently running across misspellings or obviously wrongs words, it definitely breaks my concentration.
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Old 04-27-2010, 01:42 AM   #12
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Marcy, I did not even know about the PML tool. I just used it to get a perfect mobi. This has solved all my problems, all the problem files were HTML from eReader2html and now I don't have to muck around with those. It will take me awhile to get everything done, but then I truly will not need to worry anymore as I will have proper files and not buggy HTML. Thank you so much! You have saved my ebook collection.
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Old 04-27-2010, 01:56 AM   #13
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Yes.

Spelling errors, contextual errors and paragraph errors (empty lines between paragraphs, paragraphs that contain several paragraphs) I will always correct. There are only a few commercial books that I've read without converting and "updating".
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Old 04-27-2010, 02:11 AM   #14
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Yes, it bothers to me too, and I try to put them "prettier". I think that a bad formatting annoys me and makes me to enjoy less the book (don't talk about misspelling and so on, thanks to God English is not my native language).
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Old 04-27-2010, 02:55 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
Marcy, I did not even know about the PML tool. I just used it to get a perfect mobi. This has solved all my problems, all the problem files were HTML from eReader2html and now I don't have to muck around with those. It will take me awhile to get everything done, but then I truly will not need to worry anymore as I will have proper files and not buggy HTML. Thank you so much! You have saved my ebook collection.
You're welcome! I was doing the same thing and getting frustrated with the crap html. Finding the pml converter was a revelation, since the files convert perfectly, including a working TOC.

-Marcy
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