Ebooks Suck

I’m trying to improve on my PHP skills this week, and decided to pick up a few ebooks, as opposed to running up to Half Price Books to snag them. They ended up being in PDF format, which I figured was no big deal, and would likely make it easier to read them on different devices in the future. I’ve got both the Nokia N800 and my old P1610 (which is for sale) and figured between the two, surely I could come up with a great PDF ebook reader.

Sadly, I didn’t. I expected to be able to fit the ‘book’ fullscreen in portrait mode, which is supported on both devices. The N800 (using Evince) doesn’t stretch it to fit, though the P1610 with Adobe Reader 9 does. The other thing I wanted to be able to do was write in the book, just like I would a real one. All I need is a ‘draw’ toolbar with a pencil and eraser, so that I can underline things, circle them, or make other notations for future reference. Ideally, this information would be saved to the PDF, so that if I make the edits on the P1610 and then later open it on the N800, they’d be visible.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be possible without shelling out even more money to strip the restrictions off the PDF. This is extremely frustrating. I don’t want to have to convert the PDFs into some other format, nor am I all that interested in paying for the ‘privilege’ of writing in my own books.

DRM, once again, has gotten in the way, and is a great example of technology NOT enriching or enabling my real life. What a letdown. Anyone got any suggestions?

Published by rcadden

Just a dude with a phone.

10 thoughts on “Ebooks Suck

  1. As someone who consumes a massive amount of ebooks, let me clarify your statement — ebooks don’t suck, PDF’s suck as ebooks. Because of the nature of a PDF, which is closer to an image then a typical file, resizing and whatnot is a bitch even on non-DRM’d PDF’s.

    Case in point, a good portion of the ebooks you can grab off the torrent sites (not that I would do such a thing, this is all theory, right?) are in PDF — I use Calibre on Linux to convert them to .mobi or other formats that make them more readable. You lose some of the formatting, but at least they are legible, and you can adjust the text to size.

  2. As someone who consumes a massive amount of ebooks, let me clarify your statement — ebooks don’t suck, PDF’s suck as ebooks. Because of the nature of a PDF, which is closer to an image then a typical file, resizing and whatnot is a bitch even on non-DRM’d PDF’s.

    Case in point, a good portion of the ebooks you can grab off the torrent sites (not that I would do such a thing, this is all theory, right?) are in PDF — I use Calibre on Linux to convert them to .mobi or other formats that make them more readable. You lose some of the formatting, but at least they are legible, and you can adjust the text to size.

  3. I’m not having issues with resizing and whatnot – I’m having issues being able to markup my local copy. I don’t need to be able to copy text or add type or anything – I just want a layer on which I can draw, basically.

  4. I’m not having issues with resizing and whatnot – I’m having issues being able to markup my local copy. I don’t need to be able to copy text or add type or anything – I just want a layer on which I can draw, basically.

  5. I have the same issues with PDFs. I bought a huge training manual in PDF rather than paper and its got some dumb menu stuff that takes the place of bookmarks. Now, when I thought I could lay in bed with an N800 and read and make notes to my hearts content, its impossible. Rick if you want to mark up text I think you go back to the desktop with some of those tools like in PDF Creator PRo, which will highlight what you want, and print out those notes for you. You can set bookmarks too. I’m stuck on what to try next because I really wanted to read this technical manual in my free time on my N800, but I think its a lost cause.. keep posting if you find anything helpful. Thanks.

  6. I have the same issues with PDFs. I bought a huge training manual in PDF rather than paper and its got some dumb menu stuff that takes the place of bookmarks. Now, when I thought I could lay in bed with an N800 and read and make notes to my hearts content, its impossible. Rick if you want to mark up text I think you go back to the desktop with some of those tools like in PDF Creator PRo, which will highlight what you want, and print out those notes for you. You can set bookmarks too. I’m stuck on what to try next because I really wanted to read this technical manual in my free time on my N800, but I think its a lost cause.. keep posting if you find anything helpful. Thanks.

  7. I use my Sony eReader to read PDF books all the time. Both DRM’d versions that I “check out” for 21days at a time from my local library using Adobe Digital Editions, and more open ones that I put on the device. I have only the PRS-505 which is really a reader. The higher-end version (PRS-700, I think) has a touch screen and a stylus specifically for making notes and is aimed at students and people doing exactly what you want to do with your book.

  8. I use my Sony eReader to read PDF books all the time. Both DRM’d versions that I “check out” for 21days at a time from my local library using Adobe Digital Editions, and more open ones that I put on the device. I have only the PRS-505 which is really a reader. The higher-end version (PRS-700, I think) has a touch screen and a stylus specifically for making notes and is aimed at students and people doing exactly what you want to do with your book.

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