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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I can read a PDF fine on my cheapo Sony PRS-300 ereader (text size adjustability and Table of Contents) yet when I copy to my Kindle DX 1st gen the TofC is gone and I have no ability to adjust text size besides using Landscape mode.  Conversion to mobi is usually a disaster with lines missing.  Is there any format I can convert the pdf to so it displays properly on the Kindle?  And why would they sabotage such a great reading tool by making it not work with the most common reading file format on the internet?  Because they want to get people to just buy from them?  What about converting PDF's to the Amazon format (whatever that is)?
 

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I know my  co-mod Ann puts PDFs on her DX all the time, or she used to.  I don't have a DX and generally read PDFs on my iPad or my Fire8.9. 

You can send PDFs to your DX via email with "Convert" in the subject line and they will be converted.

You can also use the "Send to Kindle" app though I believe PDFs will just be sent as is.

Betsy
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Some of my PDF's read OK as in the text size is accidentally OK.  But that is not a workable solution as many are unusable, usually because of microscopic text that doesn't get big enough even in landscape mode.  But the real problem with non-fiction material is the lack of Table of Contents.  Its just impossible to find anything unless you use the very cumbersome word search and that only works if you're looking for a unique word in the document.  Ereaders make a unique learning tool for situations (especially the 3rd world) where the transportation of large numbers of reference books is an impossibility.

There's no other Ereader that is commonly available that even approaches the screen size of the DX.  I really want to solve this PDF problem!
 

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The long-term answer is to not use the PDF format. Despite the fact that it is widely used for some things, it was never intended to work with ereaders, it was and is a page-layout tool for printed books.

It's been my experience over the last five years that converting a PDF to anything else is almost always an exercise in frustration, it usually needs massive hand-editing to look right. I've used dozens of programs, some quite expensive, and found them wanting. If you don't have access to the source material, you're pretty much stuck. Some devices try to reflow the text, but it rarely works unless the PDF is text-based (as opposed to image-based).

If I have a PDF that I really want on an ereader, I export the PDF to RTF (Rich Text Format) using Calibre, and then edit it, and then convert to ePub or MOBI.

Mike
 

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There are just no e-ink devices that work great with PDFs right now.  Especially letter sized docs.

I'll always have to read a lot of PDFs since I'm a college professor at a research university, thus reading scholarly journal articles is a huge part of my job--and those are all PDFs in e-journals these days.  

I just use my iPad and the Goodreader app.  E-ink is just too slow and clunky for zooming in and out when needed, flipping through to reference things when writing my own articles, marking up the documents etc.

Of course, that's not an option for everyone, but thankfully my eyes don't have a problem reading on LCD screens.  It's also costly, and iPad is really the only decent option for letter sized documents right now as the other 10"+ tablets have 16x9 screens that are two narrow in portrait orientation for displaying letter sized documents at a readable zoom level without a lot of panning around.  My iPad is my most used gadget though, and gets used for much more than just PDF reading, so it was a great purchase for me personally.
 

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jmiked said:
The long-term answer is to not use the PDF format. Despite the fact that it is widely used for some things, it was never intended to work with ereaders, it was and is a page-layout tool for printed books.

It's been my experience over the last five years that converting a PDF to anything else is almost always an exercise in frustration, it usually needs massive hand-editing to look right. I've used dozens of programs, some quite expensive, and found them wanting. If you don't have access to the source material, you're pretty much stuck. Some devices try to reflow the text, but it rarely works unless the PDF is text-based (as opposed to image-based).

If I have a PDF that I really want on an ereader, I export the PDF to RTF (Rich Text Format) using Calibre, and then edit it, and then convert to ePub or MOBI.

Mike
This! PDF is an 'end product' format. Designed so that it looks the way the person wants it to look for EVERYONE who's looking at it.

Ereaders are designed to allow the user to adjust the size of the print, width of margins, etc.

So, though the kindles have a rudimentary PDF reader (which they added after the first kindle at the request of customers) it's not really the way the things are meant to be used. The PDF's I have on my DX work o.k. -- they were generally formatted for an 8½ x 11 page and, though slightly reduced in size, work well enough for me. They are reference materials only. They don't work at all well on my smaller kindles, and I suspect something formatted for a larger page wouldn't be very satisfactory on the DX either.

If you need to be able to read/manipulate PDF's you have two choices as I see it:

1 -- convert it to kindle format. . . send it as an attachment via email to the kindle email address with 'convert' in the subject. Amazon will convert it and it will be scalable and all that. But any specialized formatting will be gone and I doubt any ToC will work. (You can also convert it yourself via Calibre or some other third party software; you might have a better product this way, though it'll be a lot more work.)

2 -- use a tablet instead -- even the Kindle Fires have PDF readers available -- many of them free -- that will work MUCH better than the Kindle app.
 

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I will note that moving away from PDFs just isn't feasible for a lot of documents.  Like the scholarly PDFs I read.  They need formatting preserved as they lots of tables and figures that need to be preserved.  So those need to be PDF or some other format that maintains the layout.

But yes, for pure text, publishers should stop with PDFs as there's not real point to layout there (other than for typography nerds I guess), and it's much better to just put it in some format that e-readers can reflow.
 

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Get an iPad, or something.  PDFs are crap on eink things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
> It's been my experience over the last five years that converting a PDF to anything else is almost always an exercise in frustration, it usually needs massive hand-editing to look right. I've used dozens of programs, some quite expensive, and found them wanting. If you don't have access to the source material, you're pretty much stuck. Some devices try to reflow the text, but it rarely works unless the PDF is text-based (as opposed to image-based).

That is depressing news.

> If I have a PDF that I really want on an ereader, I export the PDF to RTF (Rich Text Format) using Calibre, and then edit it, and then convert to ePub or MOBI.

When you say "edit it" what does that mean? Like going through the entire thing, page by page, removing conversion errors?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well that certainly is depressing news.  
What about other ereaders?  As I mentioned, my Sony PRS-300 (5") shows the Table of Contents fine.   Text size adjustability is only 3 sizes which sucks but maybe later firmware improves this?  5 sizes would be great.  Now if I could get a screen at about 7" or so, that might work.  I think the larger Sony's are about 7".  Surely there are others as well with a larger screen?  
 

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The thing to realize about the Kindle is that it is, essentially, a platform for reading Kindle books.  They only added PDF capability because customers requested it, but they haven't made it a true PDF reader.  I'm going to guess the Nook, from B&N, also a company that mostly wants you to buy their books, would be the same way -- but I've no idea whether it even has a PDF reader.

I personally find most PDF's just fine on the DX, but, yeah, if the original font size isn't large to begin with, it looks even smaller on the DX.  There are zooming options, but then you don't see the whole page.  I've usually found that landscape mode is fine, but, again, you only see half a page at a time.

In addition, as noted, PDF's are designed to be an output format: non-scalable, it is what it is because that's what the person who created it wanted it to be.  IF you want to be able to change that, you need more than a PDF reader, you need a PDF editor.  I'd be surprised if even any tablet came with such a thing.  PDF reader apps are widely available; PDF editor apps are probably around but almost certainly not free.

The Kindle DX is the only eInk device I know of with the larger screen (9.7") Others are between 5" and 7" with 6" being the most popular. If there are others, they're pretty much off the 'popular' radar and probably cost much more.
 

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I downloaded three Raymond Chandler short stories in pdf and tried to send them to my kindle.  Ouch.  As others have noted, you get a full page with tiny, tiny font on the kindle screen.  I contacted Kindle tech support and either I couldn't follow their lead or they didn't understand the problem.  No help.  I tried adjusting the pdf document to a 4x6 size and it just centered the full page and made it even smaller.

I e-mailed the docs to my daughter who used Caliber (freeibe software) to convert to an epub format.  She also sent them to me as a docx which I couldn't convert (Office 97 on my PC) to a filtered web page and then a mobi.  I had Caliber but didn't want to learn a new program that I would use only infrequently.  We are still fiddling with it but she says the thing converted fine. 

I also tried a cut and paste to a word doc but, as is the way of pdfs, I got a bunch of hard line returns and wasn't about to mess with them.
 

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kindleguy said:
> If I have a PDF that I really want on an ereader, I export the PDF to RTF (Rich Text Format) using Calibre, and then edit it, and then convert to ePub or MOBI.

When you say "edit it" what does that mean? Like going through the entire thing, page by page, removing conversion errors?
It doesn't usually come to page by page. Most of the things that go wrong with books can be found with search and replace and a few Regex (Regular Expressions) formulas. You have to be familiar with the common problems, though. ;D I find one of the most common problems is the seemingly random placement of paragraph breaks in the middle of sentences. I have an idea that it's related to sentences that span two pages in the PDF file, but I'm lazy and haven't verified this.

Heavily formatted tech works or books with pictures/illustrations/charts are another matter entirely. You really need a large screen reader to read a PDF properly. That's the main reason I keep my original iPad around around after I migrated away from IOS. It's a very nice PDF reader (using GoodReader). As Ann said in a previous message, the Kindle is designed for reading Mobi reflowable format books, period. Everything else is a make-shift not-entirely-implemented experimental feature.

Your Kindle DX is about as good as it gets for reading PDFs on eInk as far as size, but it's still a poorly implemented feature. There are PDF readers on IOS and Android tablets that do better and make an attempt to reflow text, but none that I have tried do a good job of that. It's just the nature of the info contained in the PDF.

If you can read it fine on your PRS-300, I'd say keep on using that.

Mike
 
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