The E-Reader Landscape Part I: Converting Hard Copy To Personalized Edoc Format

Image by permissions from Project Gutenberg

My Dilemma

The day I decided to start a blog I faced a problem. How do I find all the information I am looking for via the internet. I don’t like reading hard copy material because I have become addicted to easy internet access to whatever I am looking for without having to buy books or go to the library for documentation. If I want to present stories about information that is difficult to find for you the reader to glean from, I need copious amounts of data gathering ability to get my blogs out there. Hard copy material simply won’t do.

The day I started to write novels, I was faced with a new problem. Classic novels that I want to read on my iPad or Kindle device (if I had one) for inspiration are not readily available in original e-reader format. I found out, to my chagrin, that the major publishers that control the most famous novels that I want to read on my electronic devices, including my iPhone, have not joined the eBook party yet. Even though it is the wave of the future.

This inspiration I sought after harks back to one of my first blogs written, the “Tom Sawyer Wannabe”, and it became a revelation. The protagonist became one of my favorite characters, along with Huckleberry Finn, because I knew that some of their most celebrated antics were analogous to many of the things I got into when I was a boy. But, to my wife’s amazement, I had never actually read about the adventures of either character in the novels made famous by Mark Twain. Even though she had. For shame!

What Do I Do?

The first thing I did was go online to the Amazon website and look for hard copies of those two books, along with one more, that I decided to be the ones I chose to read first:

  • The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer
  • The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn
  • The Great Gatsby

If worse came to worse, I would at least have the paperback versions to read, even though I don’t like to read books that way. I didn’t want to check out hard copies in the library or find out if that institution even had some of the (original versions of) classics in e-reader format. My own visible personal library would prove that I had read each book (or at least faked it).

I also wanted to get the types of copies that closely matched the original books printed with all the inclusive original artwork or documents presented by the author. Later versions seem to miss the boat on this point and blur the line on the intentions of said author when his or her novels were first printed.

So, just like in the efforts I put forth to write my blogs, I searched for answers. What I found proved to be a much more difficult journey than I had first anticipated. I came close to giving up until I discovered an answer by accident.

Early Efforts

I found The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer in ebook format first on Google Books, but when I tried to read it on my iPad, I discovered it was presented with text-only format having none of the fabulous artwork included. Also, it was unwieldy to expand the copy so that it was easy to read on an electronic device. And if you wanted to pick up where you left off, forget it. After a period of time passed whereby no reading took place, that eBook returned to the title page. I then had to start from the beginning and search for my previous stopping point. Frustrating!

I then found a more user-friendly version on Planet Book , but again, I found no pictures or copies of original documents as presented in the the first publications.

Finally, I discovered what I was looking for on the Project Gutenberg website which gave the following upfront description of what they are all about.

Project Gutenberg And Me

To wit (As described on their main page):

Project Gutenberg is a library of over 60,000 free eBooks. Choose among free epub and Kindle eBooks, download them or read them online. You will find the world’s great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Thousands of volunteers digitized and diligently proofread the eBooks, for enjoyment and education.

Surprise, surprise! Not only was the book in eBook format, but a picture of the original book cover was included, as well as a complete collection of all the artwork and copies of timeworn documentation. A picture of the original first page of each chapter was included as well. Voila!

Still, all of that success left me wanting for more. And I digress.

I desired to have the following:

  • To circumvent the single spacing of the typewritten dialogue and create a double spaced format for easier reading
  • Have a definitive bold chapter title positioned to replace the existing one tied to the picture of the copy of the original first page
  • Have a large drop cap letter to start off the first paragraph of each chapter
  • To create a format that would be acceptable for reading on an electronic device in expanded text to satisfy the restrictive requirements in place. That means keeping all the text, no matter what size chosen, within the borders of the device you are using. No side-to-side scanning for text off the page allowed.

The Conclusion

I would have to play the game of experimentation with free resources at my disposal. So I began a frustrating journey with failed attempts along the way. The next blog will show you the steps I took to begin, but not entirely finish, the task I set out to complete.

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