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Will prices go down or quality go up?
#11  Kali Yuga 03-09-2010, 10:36 AM
Though I understand the impulse not to make predictions , I think it's obvious that eventually typesetting quality will approach parity with paper.

Ebooks currently make up a tiny slice of the market. In a few years, ebooks will make up a much larger slice; eventually they are likely to be the majority of sales. At that point, the ebook will be the primary emphasis, and paper an afterthought. It might even be possible that booksellers will develop some sort of format that will be possible to use to derive both ebook and paper / POD printed versions, thus reducing cost and time to deliver.

There may still be some issues, since you're dealing with a very different types of output. To get a paper book right, every aspect needs to be highly specifically determined. With ebooks, you're dealing with numerous dynamic elements to the output -- e.g. different sized pages, alterations in font sizes, users who will change the page orientation, etc. Other aspects like ligatures are utterly superfluous for digital output, and IMO it's fine to drop them. So I expect some of the fussier elements might fall by the wayside.

And not every commercial ebook today is a typographic disaster (though too many commercial ebooks have errors). I've purchased some ebooks that had rather complicated and well-executed formatting, and essentially none of the common errors that I presume come from automated conversions.
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#12  EowynCarter 03-09-2010, 10:40 AM
Quote LDBoblo
I suppose when the processing ability of ebook devices improves, we may see better flow options, perhaps drawing from the algorithms used by TeX or Adobe's Paragraph Composer, allowing good (if imperfect) hyphenation and justification, and then decent font kerning (optical or font-based). That'd be a nice start for basic text, even if still a little bit compromised.
Well, save for hyphenation... It already fine for text really. And way more.
Formula are the only real problem I can see, unless you use images.

Quote
Too bad Adobe's been so half-assed about developing it.
Yeap. The e-book world would be better off without adobe.
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#13  charleski 03-09-2010, 12:02 PM
We need to wait and see what Apple has done with the ePub reader for the iPad. Apple isn't shy about being a prime-mover with regard to specs that are incomplete and may well give the format the shot of innovation that it needs.

The primary problem with ePub lies with the spec itself, especially its lack of a paging module, which is a serious oversight. Adobe's xsl-fo extension is an attempt to rectify that, but doesn't go far enough.

Adobe has fixed the justification issue in the version that ships in the PRS900 and they need to release that so that manufacturers can update older devices. But this is one area in which Apple's vertical integration will show its advantages, since there's not much Adobe can do if the manufacturers don't want to recompile their firmware.

The only thing I'd really blame Adobe for is being too timid and not stepping up to force through the changes that ePub needs. You can describe Steve Jobs in various ways, but 'timid' isn't one of them.
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#14  HarryT 03-09-2010, 12:07 PM
Quote EowynCarter
Yeap. The e-book world would be better off without adobe.
It certainly would. No PDF for one thing. Hurray!
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#15  Elfwreck 03-09-2010, 12:54 PM
Quote LDBoblo
As the market matures and a digital model is developed, will the product quality rise to that of physical books, or will quality remain where it is, with previously important jobs and associated costs getting cut as a means of bringing price down (or profit up)?
Quality will go up (albeit slowly) because competition from amateurs *will* change the way mainstream publishers deal with ebooks (especially as those amateurs get together in groups and form small businesses of their own), and prices will go down, as they do for pretty much everything tech-related.

Which means publishers will need to change their profit models for dealing with ebooks; they're not based on supplies like paper and transport costs that increase every year. They're based on computer skills, which get more common every year, and software, which gets more effective and cheaper every year.
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#16  JSWolf 03-09-2010, 02:13 PM
Quote LDBoblo
For all the potential epub may have, its implementation currently blows. Blame the viewer software all you want, but until there's a good viewer that actually exists, that potential means absolutely nothing to me as a consumer.
Can you tell me what reflowable eBook format is actually better then ePub?
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#17  Elfwreck 03-09-2010, 02:25 PM
Quote JSWolf
Can you tell me what reflowable eBook format is actually better then ePub?
There isn't one, although depending on the device, some reflowable formats may look better than epubs. (LRF comes to mind. And my Clie doesn't read ePub, so eReader is a better format for it.)

However, non-reflowable formats *designed for user requirements* are currently better than ePub in some cases. A PDF that's designed for the screen size it's being read on, and set to the preferences of the reader (with/without margins, extra lines between paragraphs, indents, justification, etc.) is easier to read than ePub.

And while ePub is great for reading novels for entertainment, it's got some serious problems for academic use--lack of good page indicators makes it hard to use for reference work.

The fact that nothing reflowable is currently better than ePub doesn't mean ePub is perfect.
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#18  Bremen Cole 03-09-2010, 02:26 PM
I think long term that price will go down, and quality up.... as the market slowly moves to a digital base.....

iPub is as good as any for general reading IMHO.... I convert most everything to it... academic and technical... are another matter.
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#19  LDBoblo 03-09-2010, 02:56 PM
Quote JSWolf
Can you tell me what reflowable eBook format is actually better then ePub?
As Elfwreck said, there's not really a better option for reflowable ebooks. I only read custom-made PDFs, as I can't stand LRF or ePub. It'd be great if I didn't have to go to such lengths to have decent quality ebooks. In the future, ePub may be good enough for me to quit typesetting PDFs. It's definitely not there yet though. Just being the "best" reflowable format doesn't make it good.
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#20  theducks 03-09-2010, 04:02 PM
Price will go up.

Quality will remain the same. :/
The reason: There are just too many screen size/resolution combinations out there.
With paper, the typesetter controled the environment. With e-readers, there is no control PC with 28" Widescreen to a *-phone screen.
Auto Hyphenation, Auto-Page breaks. IMHO just don't make it.
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