Format woes

Twice in the last few days, I’ve seen offers for free “e-books”. Actually, I see offers like that all the time, but this time, the books interested me, so I clicked download.

In both instances, the “e-books” turned out to be PDFs. This annoys me.

PDF – portable document format – was designed as a way to describe how a book (or any other printed document) should be laid out. Because of the ubiquity of Adobe reader, it had become a default format for placing documents online.

Trouble is, online is no place for PDF. The screen I’m using may belong to a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

A smart website, using HTML5, can format a web page so that it’s readable on any of those devices. A PDF works poorly on most of them. HTML5 is designed to make the best use of the space in front of me. PDF is designed to make sure a page looks the same no matter what size screen I’m using.

I read short articles on screens. I read books on my kindle. So if you’re calling it an e-book, you should have make it available in mobi (or epub) in the first place.

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By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.