18 July 2009

A ramble on the EPUB format

As you know from my recent post regarding Random House Australia and their free Wil Anderson ebook offer, I'm a fan of standards for ebooks. Having sat in Supply Chain meetings at Frankfurt and London Book Fairs for the past few years, I'm all for reducing confusion in the marketplace, working to industry standards, and keeping costs of conversions down for publishers. The EPUB format is the one preferred by industry representatives, as it's a natural progression from the PDF - already core to the publishing process. Adobe Digital Editions, the home of EPUB files, is also Sony friendly. Or so I thought....

On the Adobe Digital Editions site, they also offer a few free ebooks to download. Now a few of you may laugh after my recent Twilight ramblings, but I thought I'd return to the classics and Bram Stoker's Dracula was there for the taking. I had already picked it up on the free Mobipocket portal as it is one of the classics readily available through Project Gutenberg. Unfortunately Mobipocket isn't Sony friendly - I can read books stored there on the Hanlin, but not on my preferred Sony e-reader.

Getting Dracula into Adobe Digital Editions was easy peasy (click click) and once I'd hooked up the e-reader to the computer, getting it downloaded to the reader itself was a piece of cake (drop drag). So far so good, but then the read commenced and once again the format distorted on the e-reader. I understand that is one of the challenges of ebooks so I simply tried to change font size and view. In the end I went back to my standard view. The reading experience has been okay to date but every couple of page turns, the text disappears and I have to skip through a blank page. Alternatively half way down the page the text distorts. You get used to it. But it really isn't ideal. It makes you understand why the proprietary formats exist and that unfortunately one size does not fit all.

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