eBooks for Shorthand

Do any of you own a reading device such as a Kindle or a Nook, or use an iPad regularly? I would like to hear opinions about advantages and disadvantages, in particular as to how they handle books. Also, has anyone tried to e-publish a book? Can the e-reader formats handle images as a PDF? I’m wondering how feasible is to convert those shorthand books into any electronic reader format.

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  1. For the Nook, you can load PDF files in your document library. But only specially created PDF files that are font based will scale so that you can make the text larger. So if you put a scanned shorthand PDF file on the Nook, it will be very small and hard to read. That is because the PDF files that you scan are images only. They are not font based. There is no way to stretch the PDF file image to make it larger on the Nook. At least not on the model I have.

    If you want font-based PDF books to appear larger on a Nook, you have to choose a larger font size. That only works on PDF books that were scanned and created to have scalable fonts. However, if you choose a larger font size on the Nook for an image-based PDF file, you will see mostly garbage. The PDF books that have scalable fonts and work on the Nook are PDF books created by professional publishers. For example school text books that are PDF files sold by the publishers work great on my Nook. I can enlarge the text by changing the font size.

    ePub is the file format used by Barnes and Noble for books they sell for the Nook. While your PDF books can be put in your Document library, the ePub books you buy go into your Barnes and Noble library. The ePub books sold by Barnes and Noble have a table of contents and scalable fonts.

    ePub books that you find are on Internet Archives and other library cites are auto-generated from image-based PDF files that are uploaded. If the Internet Archive PDF file is in English, you might be able to read most of the English text. But you will see a LOT of corrupted English text. If the Internet Archive PDF file is a Shorthand book, the auto-generated ePub book will not show any shorthand. You will see some English text that was in the book. I have never seen any Shorthand on my Nook from an ePub book.

    If you have an iPhone, you can download the Nook application and read Barnes and Noble purchased ePub books that are in your Barnes and Noble Library. You cannot download or see any PDF files with the Nook iPhone App. The Nook iPhone App is cheap or free. It is easier to use than a Nook because the iPhone has a touch screen. My Nook does not have a touch screen in the book text window. There is only a clumsy touch screen at the bottom of the Nook screen for opening and downloading books among other things. You do NOT need to purchase a Nook to buy Barnes and Noble ePub books and use them with the Nook application on your iPhone.

    The advantage of having a Nook is that the screen is larger and the battery lasts a very long time between charges when you are reading books. If you use the Nook application on your iPhone, you will probably need to be plugged into a computer or wall socket while reading your book. Viewing a book on the Nook application on your iPhone without being plugged in to a power source will run down the iPhone battery quickly.

    I hope this helps.

  2. By the way, I found a few imaged based PDF shorthand books that were large enough to read on my Nook. A few of the Gregg Shorthand manuals are readable, even though I cannot make the text larger. If you want to make the text larger on a PDF book for reading on a Nook, you should edit the PDF file and crop all of the blank areas that surround the text.

  3. I am not sure how they are created. But I seriously doubt that there is a software program that will render the Gregg Shorthand plates accurately. I have only seen the scalable font PDF files from computer book publishers and textbook publishers.

  4. In theory, one could scan to the highest resolution possible and get the rendering of the shorthand plates done right. With text, I've had mixed results with OCR conversions within Acrobat. I believe that if the font one uses for typing is scalable, Acrobat will keep it scalable as well. Now, for the images, one needs to try and see. Perhaps creating the text in a word processing program, inserting the images, and finishing it with Acrobat is something worth trying.

  5. PDF can be text (the letters A, N and D) or images (several formats), or combined. Cheap PDF creators used to create image files even if it were pure text.

    Back when I used the Palm (several years ago), I used to load it with websites for reading. Websites include both text and images. It would include a thumbnail of the images, and you clicked on the image to zoom in. When creating the file, you said how large the image file should be.

  6. A few more e-reader and ebook notes:

    The color version of the Nook will zoom in on image-only PDFs. Neither version of the e-ink Nook will. I have the touch-screen one. The screen is the same size as the reading screen on the original. The display is crisp enough that I can read the Anniversary manual and Fundamental Drills from Andrew Owen's site on it with little trouble, though I sometimes resort to a magnifier or go back and re-read bits on the PC or the Kobo reader.

    The Kobo e-ink reader will zoom in on PDFs and will display them in landscape orientation, but the older version, at least the one I have, tends to choke on files larger than about 9 MB. I don't know about the newer one(s). The screen is the same size as the reading screen on the e-ink Nooks. At 100% zoom in landscape orientation, both of the PDFs mentioned above fit the width of the screen, so I only have to scroll in one direction.

    I'll make a note to ask one of my Kindle-owning friends about whether they can zoom in on PDFs.

    I have some books in epub format that successfully combine text and images, though none of them are shorthand-related. These work because someone has gone to a fair amount of trouble to clean them up and put them together, so they are generally not free, but the price is usually still pretty reasonable.

    You can load epubs purchased or downloaded from another source on the Nook, and the Kobo, for that matter, as long as they are DRM-free or use Adobe DRM. The Kindle can take DRM-free mobi files. I'm not sure what type of DRM the libraries use with Kindle books.

    Sorry for the novella. I hope some of this might be useful.

    Nise W.

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