Diane Trout (alienghic) wrote,
Diane Trout
alienghic

Ebooks.

A few months ago I learned about epub via dragonblink from Wil Wheaton, and after reading a bit about it decided epub was a really good idea, as it solves one big problem with pdfs--the inability to reflow text for different sized displays.

I was feeling depressed yesterday, and so I went over to the oreilly.com store and picked up some books.

First off, the epub books are only a couple of megabytes for 300 to 400 page books, and it only took a couple of seconds for me to download them. It was sufficiently fast that it was easier to just re-download them into stanza than from my desktop. Also unlike Kindle, these books are DRM-free files that I can copy and back up to my heart and conscious' content, and can't be suddenly destroyed by some central authority.

Stanza's a really nice handheld ebook reader, and after reading a few chapters of Erlang Programming I've run into a couple of minor issues.
  • An authors name with Latin-1 accents got munged (unicode conversion issue I suspect)
  • fixed width code samples don't re-flow properly, so I had to discover stanza's ability to show raw unformatted text to read the sample
  • since there are no pages, all footnotes become section end notes, and its hard to find where in the text the end note was referring to.

On the plus side, the reflow does work well, and since the book is internally broken up into multiple sections there's only at most a second or two loading/reformatting when moving on to the next large section.

For comparison, in PDFs I've had page rendering issues just on moving between different pages.

Overall I think I like epub + stanza. And now I can start buying books again, I'd run out of space in my apartment to put new books and hadn't gotten around to purging enough old books. (Well Ok, so its mostly computer technical books I can get this way, fiction is still more restricted).
Tags: ebook
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