Quality eBooks for Free Download
Recommended Page Formats
LimpidSoft has greatly extended its range of quality free PDF ebooks. The new options are:
As outlined below, these selections are optimised for ereaders with a 4:3 displays, but they still display well in other ereaders.
eBook File Types
- The most familiar file type is HTML. This is not supported directly
by the Kindle but, by simply changing the file extension to 'txt', a file
can be read. (For example, the file 'copperfield.html' becomes
- An HTML file cannot include additional files, such as image files.
To remedy this, the HTML file can be enclosed in a wrapper, giving an
epub file (which is a kind of zip file);
- A file can be converted to a mobi file by using the mobigen script.
This has a pretty obvious commercial implication (vendor lock-in);
- A completely different option is to use a PDF file, with the advantage of superior page-by-page display similar to that of a physical book. A potential disadvantage is that a PDF file cannot cannot be reflowed to fit displays of different shapes (but see below).
- Before committing to a particular ebook reader, you should think ahead about your reading requirements--in particular the display details and how you anticipate getting your ebooks.
Choosing Hardware for eBooks
- Initially, the displays of ebook readers seemed to relate to the familiar proportions of displays for television and desktop computers (4:3 for Pads and the Kindle and, less commonly, 16:9).
- The 4:3 display is in the classic Pythagorean ratio of 3:4:5. This means, for example, that a 10-inch display is pretty close to 6 inches across and 8 inches down--the same shape as the 6-inch
display of the Kindle (90mm across and 120mm down).
- This means that, when a PDF document is formatted for a 4:3 page, it can be viewed on a pad or a Kindle--almost! There may be one, and only one, problem: reading the text! Depending on which font size is chosen, the display may be either too small to read or too large to take seriously. But the text does not need to be reflowed.
- This realisation brings us to the claimed advantage of the html-based file formats: that they can reflow the text to accommodate the display. By providing PDF versions of a book optimised for the two most common page sizes (6-inch and 10-inch), this problem is largely avoided.
- With reflowing, the text page that you are reading at any time is not likely to have been embellished with some of the features that you expect in a paper book, such as blocked margins, page headers and numbers, illustrations, page footnotes and cross references. These are quite standard for PDF documents.
- As the ereader market consolidates, the choices become more confusing. The best, and most readable, displays are on the larger pad devices, but these bring with them the problems of size and weight. Possibly for this reason, several new devices with narrow formats (such as the Galaxy Tab2 with a 5:3 display) have emerged. These are likely to be lighter and more portable, but the display of greater numbers of short lines is not likely to enhance the reading experience. Stay with the wider format if you can!
- And caveat emptor: even among the ereaders from the same vendor, the formats can vary, such as in the Kindle range!
- In the event that you are using an ebook reader with a narrower format than the preferred 4:3, the pages of the Limpidsoft PDF files are still displayed correctly, albeit with a slightly reduced type size. All page headers, footers and content headings are still there!
For all Shakespeare scholars and enthusiasts, the First Folio
of 1623 occupies a special place, and is now available as a text file
from Project Gutenberg (EBook #100). This is indeed a great asset, but
it has one big disadvantage: it is plain text, with no real styling.
LimpidSoft provides several of the most popular plays as both PDF and LaTeX files, with further plays in prospect.