Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When Converting eBooks Goes Bad

The above is the sample cover page of an eBook that has been "converted" and then uploaded to Scribd. This allows me to vent a little bit about the various eBook platforms and formats that are out there and show how they can really mess up the text of a book.

This eBook was converted with the ABC AMBER LIT Converter, which is a piece of freeware that puts the file into a format that will work with a device being used to view the material. There are LIT and PUB and all these other kinds of formats and I find them to be pretty annoying. I do understand the need to make proprietary things for specific machines in order to hook people into buying things. The problem is, the eBook reader market is in its infancy. What do you do with something like this?

The problem with it is evident:

Each paragraph is rendered as a horizontal block across the page. Some are four lines thick; most are just a line or two. Reading this is difficult because of how broadly stretched the text is across the page.

Converters need to be a little more flexible. I'm sure that there are settings and formats that could have been played around with. If this is the best that the converter can do, why bother? It's unreadable in this format, at least it is to my eye. The annoying banner across the top of every page is a feature of the software used to do the conversion by the way. Yes, every page has that distracting piece of text on it that tells you what you already knew.

Reviews of the ABC AMBER LIT Converter are witheringly bad, by the way. I don't know if that's fair, though. It is a free converter. What were you expecting?

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