UoL Library Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘pdf’


Posted by gazjjohnson on 8 July, 2011

Interesting question from my boss this morning asking about the EPUB format especially as it contrasts to PDF, which i confess I know little about.  This is on the back on one of our departments increasingly looking towards making material available on eReaders rather than our VLE (BlackBoard).  My thanks to the folks on twitter whom have kicked in the following bits of insight.

  • EPUB is basically a zipped bag of xml and css with slightly improved DC metadata in it. Best for reflowable text, unlike PDF.
  • PDF is written in stone so doesn’t flow well on ereader devices.  Best ereader for PDF is iPad. EPUBflows.
  • Calibre makes EPUB
  • EPUB will work better on e-readers like kindle – PDFs work but difficult to read
  • Think there is linked data potential in the metadata.
  • v.3 is particularly interesting from a metadata perspective
  • Not just for ereaders IMO. Range of advantages Inc. Reusability & accessibility

So there you are – all the wiser now.  The link above is actually well worth following as it does give quite a clear view.  Is it enough information for the boss?  I don’t know, but I’ll pass it along and see what else she’d like to know.

Posted in Service Delivery, Technology & Devices | Tagged: , , , , | 13 Comments »

Kindle: First impressions in the Library

Posted by gazjjohnson on 27 October, 2009

What could it be?Last week my boss asked me to go ahead and purchase a Kindle for the Library to trial.  Ordered it around 3pm on Friday and it was on my desk early yesterday afternoon.  First impressions (and comparing it to the Sony reader I trialed last December) aren’t bad.  Some gut reactions:


  • Wireless works out of the box* – with no set up
  • Manual almost not needed – intuitive to use
  • Access to Wikipedia and works flawlessly
  • Nice look and feel – keys and case
  • Navigation around the menus feels modern and slickFirst looks promising
  • Electronic paper impresses again with clarity
  • USB charger works happily with my PC
  • Joystick works well as selection tool


  • Screen smaller than Sony
  • Heavier than I expected
  • 3G Wireless crippled in UK (currently)
  • £200+ is still a bit much when it only comes bundled with a dictionary & user guide
  • Annotation of text bit tricky
  • No stylus or touchscreen functionality
  • Not in colour
  • Doesn’t recognise native PDF documents placed on it

I quite like the Kindle, even now 24hrs later when the “WOW!” factor is wearing off.  I’m finding the smaller screen (than the Sony) isn’t bothering me quite so much now.  I enjoyed flicking it on for the first time on the train last night (it needed a three hour charge first) and being on wikipedia less than 30 seconds later.  I even liked that it said “Hello Gareth” when it booted.

Sitting happily on the deskSo in terms of usability I would say the Kindle has the slight edge – certainly the plastic coated metal protected me from holding onto a cold metal object out of doors (something the Sony fell down on).  The keyboard layout looks slightly odd at first (it is QWERTY but aligned like a PDA not a keyboard) but was responsive to the touch.  Actually all the keys click nicely without too much of a clunk.

The shame is that the 3G mobile internet browsing has been locked out in the UK.  Can’t Google, can’t Twitter, can’t Facebook.  Can’t even read my email – so as a replacement for a netbook, 3G phone or PDA the Kindle fails.  Yes it looks nice and easy to buy books from, but I’ve not been able to locate any free ones nor have I been able to put my own PDFs on to read.  That alone would have made it very handy in the library sense – got an interlibrary loan?  Zap – there you go, read it on your Kindle.  So far as I can see so far though, this isn’t the case.

Close up of the joystickIn this regards the Kindle begins to raise the same worries in me that have kept me away from Apples iPod/iTunes network – the push to the proprietary media/documents only.  When I have an electronic reading device I want it to read my documents – not just the documents you choose to sell to me.  AntiPirary? Or just my inexperience…yes it appears the latter.  A search of the manual reveals that the Kindle can handle electronic texts, but only in Kindle (.azw, azw1), text (.txt), unprotected mobipocket (.mob1, .prc), audible (.aa, .aax) or MP3 formats.  That seems a real let down.

There is a service whereby you can email your PDFs to Amazon, and then for a fee (these are my documents remember) have them transfer wirelessly to the Kindle.  You can get around this by having it emailed back to you.  Unfortunately in terms of securely electronic delivery PDFs from the British Library, well frankly that wouldn’t work.  But for others, I can see it’s an area where we might be entertaining a little experimentation – if anyone else has tried this, let me know how it worked out for you!

Close up on the keysThat’s it – my first reactions to the Kindle.  Not perfect, not a world beater and by no means the must have item this Christmas.  Would I buy it for myself?  Frankly no, not as it currently is configured or priced.  Personally I’ll be waiting for a reader with flawless wireless, that allows me to upload and read native PDFs rather than passing them through a clunky two handed email exchange, and with touchscreen functionality.  Oh, and can I have two screens so it feels more like reading a book?  If the Nintendo DS can do it…

* Actually the only place the wireless hasn’t worked is right here at my desk!  Our building being somewhat of a shield for mobile phone signals.

Posted in Technology & Devices, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »