Monday, March 21, 2011

PDF Sucks - eBooks Rule

Sure.  PDF was cool ten years ago.  Now it's just stupid, bloated and inflexible.  Looks like shit on most e-book readers (Kindle, Nook, Sony, etc.), save for maybe a Kindle DX, maybe an iPad.  If you can zoom and adjust contrast it can be acceptable, sometimes.  Many times it isn't.  Actually, MOST of the time it isn't.  It's just outdated.  So you feel that you can protect it, sort of.  I haven't seen an effective safeguard on PDF documents that's lasted.  It's a double-edged sword, isn't it?  You want people to read your creative works, yet you want to make it difficult to propagate.  If you're charging money for it, that's one thing.  But if you're not, then why put a leash on it?

If you're in the middle of writing a document and plan on publishing it to PDF format: STOP.  Don't do it!  It's 2011.  Catch up.  Make it an HTML document and crank out an EPUB or PRC/MOBI file so the growing masses of ebook readers can use it efficiently.  Why make it more difficult to tote your fantastic creations around with us on-the-go?  Converting Word, TXT and HTML to EPUB and PRC/MOBI is not only FREE, it's ridiculously easy to do.  In fact, 2epub.com is one of the best examples of just how easy it is.

I know that I'm not alone in standing firm on my conviction that if I can't buy a book to read on my Kindle, I'm not buying it.  Period.  I don't buy paper books anymore.  Nothing against them.  It's just that they don't fit my needs or mobility constraints.  Being a consultant, I have to have access to a multitude of subjects and documents, often without having Internet access or a practical space to open, boot and log into a laptop or netbook (shielded data centers, remote locations, sitting in a fast food parking lot, etc.).  My Kindle (and to be fair, a Nook or Sony Reader) are much more practical and portable, and are fantastic in outdoor situations (I know, I know, nerds don't go outdoors, but I try to).  e-Ink displays are also infinitely easier to read for hours on-end than any backlit display devices like laptops, computer screens or even tablets.  They don't have the glossy sheen glare and reflection to bother my eyes either.  My Kindle requires a charge about once a week, which is not bad for a frequent reader like myself (I read for at least a few hours every day if possible).

But the difference between reading a standard e-book versus a PDF book is about as different as eating a grilled steak versus gnawing on a steak made from dog food.  Word-wrapping is crap.  Zoom and pan sucks.  It's just horrible.  My rant is complete.  Thank you.

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