Monday, September 8, 2008

Ebook Formats: PDF (Portable Document Format)

PDF (Portable Document Format) is a file format created by Adobe Systems, initially to provide a standard form for storing and editing printed publishable documents. Because documents in .pdf format can easily be seen and printed by users on a variety of computer and platform types, they are very common on the World Wide Web, but since they are designed to reproduce page images, and the text cannot be re-flowed to fit the screen width, PDF files designed for printing on standard paper sizes are hard to view on screens with limited size or resolution. Adobe has addressed the issue of people viewing PDF files on smaller screens as are found on PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants). Adobe's Acrobat Reader for the PDA now has a re-flow facility.

PDF files are created mainly using Adobe Acrobat, but Acrobat Capture and other Adobe products also support their creation, as do third-party products such as PDFCreator, OpenOffice.org, and FOP. Acrobat Reader (now simply called Adobe Reader) is Adobe's product used to view PDF files. PDF files typically contain product manuals, brochures, magazine articles, or flyers as they can embed fonts, images, and other documents. A PDF file contains one or more page images, each of which you can zoom in on or out from. The PDF format can include interactive elements such as buttons for forms entry and for triggering sound and Quicktime or AVI movies. Acrobat PDF files are optimized for the Web by rendering text before graphic images and hypertext links. Adobe's PDF-like e-book format is incorporated into their reader.

PDF files are supported on the following e-book readers: Sony Reader, Bookeen Cybook and indirectly also Amazon Kindle.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize, archive and distribute cultural works. Founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart, it is the oldest digital library. The project tries to make public domain books as free as possible, in long-lasting, open formats that can be used on almost any computer. As of December 2007, Project Gutenberg claimed over 24,000 items in its collection.

Wherever possible, the releases are available in plain text, but other formats are included, such as HTML. Most releases are in the English language, but many non-English works are also available. There are multiple affiliated projects that are providing additional content, including regional and language-specific works. Project Gutenberg is also closely affiliated with Distributed Proofreaders, an internet-based community for proofreading scanned texts.

Project Gutenberg is careful to verify the status of its ebooks according to U.S. copyright law. Material is added to the Project Gutenberg archive only after it has received a copyright clearance, and records of these clearances are saved for future reference. Unlike some other digital library projects, Project Gutenberg does not claim new copyright on titles it publishes. Instead, it encourages their free reproduction and distribution.

Most books in the Project Gutenberg collection are distributed as public domain under U.S. copyright law. The licensing included with each ebook puts some restrictions on what can be done with the texts (such as distributing them in modified form, or for commercial purposes) as long as the Project Gutenberg trademark is used. If the header is stripped and the trademark not used, then the public domain texts can be reused without any restrictions.

There are also a few copyrighted texts that Project Gutenberg distributes with permission. These are subject to further restrictions as specified by the copyright holder.

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