[OS X TeX] Re: LaTeX conversion to eBook?

William Adams will.adams at frycomm.com
Tue May 1 10:02:18 EDT 2012

On May 1, 2012, at 4:49 AM, Nicola wrote:

> I do not think that it is too 
> CPU-expensive, even for mobile devices, but I haven't experimented.

I have spent quite a bit more time than I'd like to recall, waiting for my Sony PRS-600 to re-flow an ebook after changing the size so as to be able to read a book more comfortably (say in a low-light condition). Books at the small size of an ebook read can easily be thousands of pages (though most ebook readers utilise a virtual page based on the 1,024 byte chunks of file-size). Multiply that by the hundreds of books one can easily have on even an entry-level reader and one has quite a bit of work to do, at the expense of battery life and convenience.

Adding hyphenation or a multi-pass hyphenation algorithm like TeX's would mean an even longer wait.

Doing it in advance would increase synch times and the complexity of the data being synched --- I already wait quite a bit when synching (and have gotten one ebook Heinlein's _Space Cadet_ so filled w/ markup that it can't be synched in an 8-hour day at work) and have already had one instance of an ebook reader having to be wiped due to corruption of the metadata, so making that more complex has issues as well.

> A general comment about this discussion: as someone has commented before, the 
> fundamental problem of the typographic quality of ebooks (and, more generally, 
> of web sites) is the rendering engine (e.g., WebKit), which, ideally, should act 
> as a “real-time TeX” (with all the differences). Getting there does not seem so 
> easy to me, and it requires two things: first, a systematic account on the 
> unique characteristics (*) of “e-typography”, a task far from being accomplished 
> yet (to my limited knowledge); second, the market (publishers?) putting pressure 
> to set high standards for epubs, and/or investment in some research project 
> resulting in some open source library that can be adopted by the aforementioned 
> engines.

Aye, there lies the rub.

I however, have been unable to get any meaningful attention from publishers based on commercial ebooks being so filled w/ errors as to require looking up passages in Google Books, so don't have much hope for this sort of thing even though I've just come back from RIT's Reading Digital conference.


William Adams
senior graphic designer
Fry Communications
Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow.

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