Documentation for ebook readers

Subject: Documentation for ebook readers
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sat, 13 Nov 2010 10:49:46 +0200

As most of you are aware, ebook readers are by no means standard in
file formats accepted.

One handy, free application is Calibre. It is able to convert between
many different ebook formats: www.calibre-ebook.com. It also functions
as a library manager and handles reading on your computer as well as
synchronizing to your particular device. It is available for Windows,
Mac, and Linux. Although it is free to download and use, if you find
it useful you may want to donate a few bucks to support continued
development and distribution.

My ebook reader is the Cybook Opus--fairly typical in that it uses
e-ink screen, but as far as I know is the lightest in weight so it is
incredibly convenient. It also handles a wide range of ebook formats
as well as multiple interface languages (and Cyrillic support for
Russian ebooks, which pleases my wife greatly as this is her primary
language).

In the U.S., of course, the Kindle is by far the most popular last I
checked--but the Kindle has relatively little presence elsewhere in
the world.

Thus, you should give some thought as to what ebook format you will
offer and how you will distribute it.

If your product is such that an ebook reader for field use would be
helpful, you may have the luxury of specifying a particular device or
at least the capabilities of the device to be selected.

The growing market for tablets such as the iPad are also a factor; at
this point, though, the relatively short battery life for devices with
full-color LCD screens may be a show-stopper; however, it is my
understanding that color e-ink screens should be coming out some time
next year that may be much better on battery life.

One final note: illustrations bound for use on ebooks should take into
account that most readers have monochrome screens with relatively
small contrast ratios. Starting with a color illustration and simply
using it as-is for ebook versions can easily give less than
satisfactory results; many colors wind up looking too similar if not
identical when rendered on such a low-contrast monochrome screen. That
is something I suggest testing before publishing. (The size of the
reader screens may also be an issue, and labels and call-outs may have
to be done with larger than normal font sizes, for example).

David
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