PDFs, ebooks, and electronic reading

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jdorje
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PDFs, ebooks, and electronic reading

Postby jdorje » Sun Dec 12, 2010 6:19 am

First of all, sorry for not posting this under the "How can I improve 14ers.com" thread or section. This subject is sufficiently in-depth that it could possibly need a thread of its own - it could turn into a climbing thread as hikers discuss how best to use these technologies. Or maybe there will be no reply. I'll make it lengthier than truly needed since I'm not entirely sure where the technology should be going.

For me it began when I got an ipod touch cheap from a friend. I loaded it up with books and found it incredibly convenient for reading. I consider myself a good reader but the problem of toting a book around and keeping track of my place in it usually limits me to reading just a few times a day. Since using the ipod as an ebook reader I've increased my reading amount between five and tenfold. For reference materials, the issue is different. The problem with reference books is that you really need a lot of them to get anywhere, and they take up a lot of space - this is particularly true for any books on hiking, which you most likely aren't going to carry with you while hiking. Here, ebooks are even more helpful.

Here's where I started getting into trouble as I wanted to load my ipod up with 14ers.com route descriptions. These are PDF files obviously, which is pretty close to an ebook. My ebook reader (stanza) can handle PDF files directly, or they can be converted to epub (an open format). Both gave issues.

The first issue, which is one directed at Bill to fix, is that when you load books into Stanza it organizes them by name and by author. The 14ers.com route descriptions all have "14ers.com route description" as the name (meaning all 100 of them would be indistinguishable when looking through the bookshelf) and the author is unset (it defaults to "Unknown" which is where you find it if looking through the bookshelf by author). Though I can fix this on a case-by-case basis as I load up the routes, it'd be a lot easier if they were fixed on the site. In my opinion the Author should be "Bill Middlebrook", the AuthorSortable "Middlebrook, Bill" (thus when looking by author it fits in the M section). The title is a bit trickier but IMO needs to include the peak name near the start of it in a way that would make it easy to find alphabetically. "Yale Southwest Slopes: 14ers.com Route Description" would work. Other fields that get looked at are the Publisher ("14ers.com"), Tags ("Hiking, Fourteeners, Colorado"), and Series ("14ers.com Route Descriptions"). I'm not sure what each tag should be named in the PDF file; if it will help I can do some research on this though. It should be possible to bulk edit the files to set everything other than the title.

My second issue, the cause of which I am quite lost on, came into play when I converted from PDF to epub format. Stanza can read PDF files, as I said, but it doesn't do so entirely legibly. Unlike true ebooks where it formats them to make the text the size you want, a PDF file shows as-is with limited zooming. It can be read but it is a ton more work than doing so with a true ebook. The Free desktop software calibre converts books between formats, however on converting the PDF file into epub I found, bizarrely, that the images were all flipped vertically. They weren't rotated 180 degrees, they were literally being mirrored in the vertical direction. I have no idea if this is an issue with the 14ers.com PDF's themselves (I have not seen it with other PDF conversion) or if it's a bug in calibre.

The third issue, which is simply a technical one, is that one day I might be driving down a road and see a mountain and want to climb it. So I need to have all of the routes loaded up on my ipod! But downloading all the routes would be incredibly tedious; I'd have to open each route page one by one to get at them. Bill, if you agree with the idea of supporting ebook readers for your route descriptions, the next step would then be to make them downloadable en masse, either in one large zip file or simply through an indexed folder.
-Jason Dorje Short
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Re: PDFs, ebooks, and electronic reading

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Sun Dec 12, 2010 8:49 am

I'm on it.

Anything to make those easier to download and read...
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Re: PDFs, ebooks, and electronic reading

Postby jdorje » Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:15 am

Update: the issue with the flipped images is a bug in an obscure library used by the converter program. Oddly though it doesn't happen on most PDF's so some tag is probably triggering it.
-Jason Dorje Short
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Re: PDFs, ebooks, and electronic reading

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:20 am

How is this format?

Grays Peak - East Slopes (Route #1)

I can update all of them today and also create a large zip file with all route PDFs
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Re: PDFs, ebooks, and electronic reading

Postby jdorje » Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:42 am

Better!

Title: "Grays Peak - East Slopes (Route #1)"
Author(s): "Bill Middlebrook"
Author sort: "Middlebrook, Bill"

The publisher field is left empty, so "14ers.com" doesn't appear anywhere in the meta-data. The tags are also empty - stanza uses these to "group" books for another method of browsing (you can browse the bookshelf by title, author or by group), so with "Hiking Fourteeners Colorado" here each route would go into all three of those groups.

Also the "series" field that I mentioned earlier is empty. This is used for instance for a series of books - seemingly giving a series title and a series number. This isn't really needed for the route descriptions but if you wanted to use it the series would be "14ers.com route descriptions" and the numbers either left empty or put in order based on...something, peak height maybe. The series could also be the peak name (with multiple routes per peak, though that leads to over 50 different series) or (edit: seems i forgot to finish this sentence) the range name.

There's an ISBN field that I assume can be left empty :).

And last is a publish date field that I just noticed, that you might want to make use of for this.

One other issue with sorting: this peak is "Grays Peak" so sorts under G, but for "Mount Elbert" it would sort under M if you aren't careful. Sorting is a major issue since screen space is limited and you have to scroll through (or tediously type in text to search) at least all works by the same author, to find the one you are looking for.

Like I said I don't know what any of these fields would actually be called on the PDF.
Last edited by jdorje on Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
-Jason Dorje Short
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Re: PDFs, ebooks, and electronic reading

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:59 am

Great info! I can't utilize all of the fields with my automated programs but I will certainly do the "Elbert, Mt." formatting instead of the straight peak name. I'll also look into transferring the HTML meta tags to the PDF meta tags area.

I have something to do while I watch the Patriots beat the Bears today...
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Re: PDFs, ebooks, and electronic reading

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:25 pm

I updated all of the route PDFs and added a large ZIP file...

14ers.com Routes in PDF format (170MB .ZIP file)
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Re: PDFs, ebooks, and electronic reading

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Tue Dec 14, 2010 8:38 am

I updated the automatic PDF generation program on the route pages, so you may want to download a couple of the individual route PDFs to see if it's what you're looking for. Once I get it right, I redo the large zip file.

Thanks!

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