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Old 08-20-2008, 08:00 PM   #595
dstampe began at the beginning.
Posts: 50
Karma: 17
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Canada
Device: Sony PRS-500
Hmm... Quality might mean different things to different users (or depending on the device being used to read the ebook). I've seen a number of books that are very neatly formatted as web pages (including TOC links, next/previous at each chapter heading, etc) but these would not work well on a typical ereader. Many publishers also tend to format for the "big screen" with less than desirable results. I've read other complaints about ebook formatting, such as em-dashes being replaced with standard hyphens in commercial releases.

My own requirements for ebooks, for example, would not be met by most publisher's formatting standards. I need low-vision readable typefaces, rather large (18-24 point) plus left justification instead of full justification in order to view such large fonts. This does not work for DRM'd Sony ebooks, due to lack of left justification and poor typefaces. (Yes, I could re-flash the reader with new fonts but this would only fix a few of the problems). So I need editable books in order to adjust the formatting to be readable. I have not yet tried Mobilpocket-enabled devices; I hear that these are easily reconfigured for typeface and font size, but have issues with paragraph formatting. Maybe when the 9.7" Mentor is available I'll try it.

So I'm a bit dubious that it should be left up to publishers (or whoever does the actual layout, for Baen it's Windhaven Press) to lock in the final format of ebooks. Yes, publishers have seen the layout of books to be their prerogative and in many cases the book is supposed to end up with a certain style. But this can make the result inaccessible to readers with special needs or hard to read on some devices. The DMCA has a provision for accessibility for handicapped users that has been 100% ignored by publishers as far as I know.

Without DRM there is the option of fixing things yourself in a pinch. Myself, I'd prefer to see a more modifiable open format, maybe based on a simple set of HTML tags (chapter head, etc) that the style can vbe tweaked for in the ereader setup. Maybe ePub will be the one, but maybe not. Currently it's broken on Sony Reader as it only displays the two smallest and the largest available type sizes, so I haven't tried it.
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