I had a few unexpected hours off the Internet today due to a connectivity issue.
I didn't feel as isolated as most people do when that happens because my hard drive contains a ginormous backlog of To-Do Things.
One of these had to do with eBooks.
I played around with Sony's eLibrary software and some free eBooks I'd downloaded of various formats. Note that most of these eBooks were legitimately free. A few weren't, but were for Research Purposes Only (such as today's research).
I discovered that Richard Herley's free eBooks when put into Sony's LRF file format -- by ManyBooks, I think it is -- look absolutely dreadful. I don't understand why there are blank lines between paragraphs. I also don't know why one of them has formatting conventions included at the beginning!
I discovered that many free PDFs are completely free. No security restrictions at all. I was able, for example, to run one of Charlie Huston's free PDF eBooks through a PDF-to-HTML converter. However, the results were not very happy to see. This same PDF -- and others -- also allowed text to be extracted via Save As. In all cases that I tried, however, paragraphs of text are interrupted by any headers in the document as well as page numbers. And typeface formatting is lost.
I also discovered that some utilities I downloaded ages ago were absolutely useless for creating Sony Reader-format eBooks. I forget where I got them from, but I do recall thinking they'd be useful for that purpose. Instead, one of them was for actually taking an LRF file and converting it to other formats. Why would I want that?!
In all, with viewing a variety of free eBooks that are translated on-the-fly and several PDFs, I concluded that anyone who thinks they can build a library of eBooks via format piracy is an absolute moron.
It would be very, very hard work, for example, to take the Charlie Huston PDF and make a near-professional LRF version for the Sony Reader. The amount of time and effort would be greater than the price of buying a legitimate copy.
Also, I noticed that several free PDFs offered by one publisher was infected with fat borders containing notices to Buy Buy Buy a printed copy. This made the file just about worthless for even on-screen reading. And I think PDF reflow on a Sony Reader would have a heart attack trying to parse it.
So, all that free free free stuff you've been socking away on your hard drive in anticipation of building a ready-to-go eBook library for a Sony Reader or other device?
You better start taking a serious look at that stuff now.
I think you'll find you'll want to buy eBooks that are professionally formatted and free of spam!
Let's just hope the dying dinosaurs of print progress to impulse-buy pricing so we can buy lots and lots and lots of eBooks!
Because most free just isn't worth it!