Books: a literary discussion

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  • edited January 2013
    I love reading and I'm trying to get through Bertrand Russel's Why I Am Not A Christian, but it's pretty difficult concentrating on a book with a 4 year old running around.
  • edited January 2013
    Jennifer wrote: »
    I've been reading books on my iPad lately and have been downloading free epubs for public domain books that I have always wanted to read (or read when I was a kid or a teenager and mostly have forgotten). Project Gutenberg is great for getting epubs for popular public domain books, like Sherlock Holmes, or A Connecticut Yankee in King Author's Court, or A Christmas Carol. It's not so great for less popular books though.

    I've been scouring the internet looking for an epub for A Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish, and the only one I could find was one for sale on iTunes for $0.99. The story is available all over the internet in HTML format, so paying $1 seemed kind of silly.

    That was until I decided to make an ePub of it myself. Egads, what a pain in the neck that turned out to be (probably because I went the route of doing all the HTML by hand in Wordpad rather than using an HTML editor). After two days of sorting out all the errors in my HTML code, it's done now though. So I can finally read the story with iBooks, but now I kind of wish I wasn't so cheap and paid the dollar to save myself the aggravation.

    The reason why there are ebook versions of public domain books being sold for money (however cheap) on Amazon and such is because often the free public domain versions have poor formatting; a table of contents which is either missing or simple link-less text (which makes such TOCs completely useless); or missing NCX code, such that chapter-skipping shortcut keys don't work.

    I can say from personal experience that having to repair ebooks with bad TOCs and NCXs is a pain in the neck, and even worse if chapter headings are wonky.
  • edited January 2013
    I worked on a version of Les Misérables. 2.5k pages to reformat, special characters to fix, indentations to add... it was a big pain. But not as much as the time I just retyped a whole novel because I bought the paper version and wanted to be able to read the ebook (not 2.5K pages that times, fortunately. I'd still be halfway :p)
  • edited January 2013
    And this, kids, Is why you don't pirate. Someone actually has to do all that work.
  • edited January 2013
    Let's talk about books. Anybody read anything recent that was really good? Have an obscure old favorite?

    I am Legend by Richard Matheson. Well, it's not so obscure anymore due to the Will Smith movie, but it's still worth checking out considering none of the adaptations really stick to the point save for The Last Man on Earth, and even that somehow manages to beat around the bush.

    It is my absolute favorite story, without question.

    Where do you read books? When do you read them? What books do you read? How do you read books?

    I don't read as often as I'd like to, so I made a reading list in order to give myself some incentive this year as I have quite a backlog of stories just waiting to be read, and I generally read Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and or Mystery books when I am able to. Ideally, I'd like to read in my room anywhere I'm comfortable when it's quiet. Unfortunately there is little peace-and-quiet at the house these days, and it makes it hard for me to concentrate and focus on reading whatever book is available to me.

    I do want to have a go at the A Song of Ice and Fire series at some point since that looks like good heavy reading. Despite some of the bad things I hear about it, I'd still like to see if I can finish books with that grand of scale.

    Since I want to get into heavier reading, I thought I'd simply start light with a series based on one of my favorite video game franchises. I figure starting with a familiar world would ease me into better reading habits, since I don't have to think too much on descriptions and characters, and won't want to stop every minute to look up how to pronounce a character's name or anything like that.

    Can't wait to read them.
  • edited January 2013
    I'm happy to have found a new author that I like, Neal Stephenson. Nearly finished Reamde which I've enjoyed a lot and so I'll have to look for other books he's done. Heard good things about Snow Crash, which actually was what I was looking for initially when I got Reamde - it (Snow Crash) was recommended to me so when I was next in a good bookshop I looked for it but couldn't find a copy but saw this other book by the same author (Reamde) so I got that and haven't regretted it.
  • edited January 2013
    I've read Snow Crash, I enjoyed it a lot. It has a few info dumps, which are a bit overwhelming, but it's part of the point so I guess it still works.
  • edited January 2013
    I've got some new Stephen King books I want to read, but first, I need to finish my Harry Potter reread. I've been planning this for too long to not finish-- also, I want to read the James Potter super-fan free-books.
  • edited January 2013
    Chyron8472 wrote: »
    The reason why there are ebook versions of public domain books being sold for money (however cheap) on Amazon and such is because often the free public domain versions have poor formatting; a table of contents which is either missing or simple link-less text (which makes such TOCs completely useless); or missing NCX code, such that chapter-skipping shortcut keys don't work.
    I find that the Project Gutenberg e-books are of a high standard. Plenty of gems to be found there, enough to last you a life time... of course, people should still buy books by living writers as well, otherwise they won't be living writers for very long. :D
  • edited January 2013
    Avistew wrote: »
    I worked on a version of Les Misérables. 2.5k pages to reformat, special characters to fix, indentations to add... it was a big pain. But not as much as the time I just retyped a whole novel because I bought the paper version and wanted to be able to read the ebook (not 2.5K pages that times, fortunately. I'd still be halfway :p)

    Ehh... I don't put that much effort into it. I use Sigil to edit files and Calibre to convert them.

    Calibre is pretty good at fixing formatting problems once you figure out what conversion settings get the right results. PDFs, on the other hand.... ugh... don't get me started. PDFs SUCK when it comes to converting them to mobi/ePub.

    I hate PDF eBooks.

    Haggis wrote: »
    I find that the Project Gutenberg e-books are of a high standard. Plenty of gems to be found there, enough to last you a life time... of course, people should still buy books by living writers as well, otherwise they won't be living writers for very long. :D
    I downloaded a few classics from there, and the ones that I did either had text-only TOCs or none at all.
  • JenniferJennifer Moderator
    edited January 2013
    Chyron8472 wrote: »
    I downloaded a few classics from there, and the ones that I did either had text-only TOCs or none at all.
    Like Haggis, I must have been lucky then too, because all of the ePubs I've downloaded from them have been good quality (although, admittedly, I only downloaded 4 of them so far).
  • edited January 2013
    Ah. Well, I have a Kindle, which uses Mobipocket instead of ePub.

    Certain ePubs don't seem to play well with Calibre right away regarding TOC conversion...

    Or at least such was the case two years ago, when I downloaded said classics. Calibre may have improved its conversion abilities since then.
  • JenniferJennifer Moderator
    edited January 2013
    Chyron8472 wrote: »
    Ah. Well, I have a Kindle, which uses Mobipocket instead of ePub.

    Certain ePubs don't seem to play well with Calibre right away regarding TOC conversion...

    Or at least such was the case two years ago, when I downloaded said classics. Calibre may have improved its conversion abilities since then.
    I think Project Gutenberg's likely improved in those two years too.

    They now offer their books in a wide range of different formats, including mobi.

    Well, the gutenberg.org site does at least, the gutenberg.us site only offers them in HTML format (although there's a bigger selection of books at .us).
  • edited January 2013
    I've recently finished the Fifth Elephant Discworld
    One of the best Terry Pratchett's I've read yet
  • edited January 2013
    Just wait until you get to Jingo. Or Hogfather. Or Reaper Man. Or Night Watch. Or Going Postal.
  • edited January 2013
    Jennifer wrote: »
    I think Project Gutenberg's likely improved in those two years too.

    They now offer their books in a wide range of different formats, including mobi.

    Well, the gutenberg.org site does at least, the gutenberg.us site only offers them in HTML format (although there's a bigger selection of books at .us).
    I just downloaded one of the books I recall having a problem with in .mobi format, and:

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  • edited January 2013
    I bought a book on creative writing.
    (I thought it may help with the ol' game design)
  • edited January 2013
    The best books for creative writing (at least in a fantasy gothic horror setting) are the Ravenloft DnD books. And Heroes of Horror.
  • edited January 2013
    Since last I posted I have managed to get through a few books.

    I have gotten through both of the Guild Wars books, they where equally as good and they did well what they was supposed to do, keep you up to speed.

    Finished The Desert Spear if you haven't read it I think you should, but start with the first book The Painted Man.

    The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic.

    Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian

    Gone through Skullduggery Pleasant: Dark Days, Mortal Coil and Death Bringer.
    Now I am reading the latest book in the series Kingdom of the Wicked.
  • edited January 2013
    I used to follow the Skullduggery Pleasant series, but I started not being able to find them anymore and I thought the author just stopped writing them. I remember that fateful day when I was browsing for books and just HAD to get the book with the skeleton throwing a fireball on the cover. I mean, why WOULDN'T I get a book with a cover like that?

    Well, looks like I'll need to take a trip to the bookstore now.
  • edited January 2013
    Chyron8472 wrote: »
    Ah. Well, I have a Kindle, which uses Mobipocket instead of ePub.
    I've got a Kindle as well (since about a week or two), but I must admit I don't really use TOCs, I tend to read books from start to finish, whatever the subject. There are e-books with linked TOCs on Gutenberg though, but most of the older files are text-only.

    Oh, and I'm currently reading Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God Is Within You in e-book form, and Dumas' The Three Musketeers on paper. I just love the 19th century. :p
  • edited January 2013
    Yeah, to be honest, I don't remember ever using a table of contents in a book, electronic or otherwise. A fiction book, I mean, I do for textbooks or non-fiction, but only because I don't read the whole thing.

    I can see how a TOC would be helpful though if you're looking for a specific part of the book. This being said, it doesn't seem much harder to check the page and enter it manually than clicking a link, so if there is a TOC at all I'm not sure why it matters if it's clickable.
  • edited January 2013
    It's not so much that I frequently use Tables of Contents, though I do frequently use chapter-skipping keys [especially when I'm reading a book on multiple devices that didn't sync to my last page read, or if my wife and I are reading the same book on each other's device and are in different places (which is why we don't sync locations across devices, as we both use the same Amazon account to buy ebooks)].

    It's more about that the device does have the ability to make use of a linkable TOC and chapter skipping, so the book should have those features implemented properly. If the book doesn't have that, I feel compelled to fix it mainly on principle.


    Also, given that I have the ability to (with Calibre), I like to make all my (fiction) ebooks to be formatted the same way: a single blank line between each paragraph; an indent on the first line of each paragraph; said indent to be the same; each chapter to start on a new page; and have a good looking cover page.

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  • edited January 2013
    I just checked, a number of books on Amazon's list of free classics do have a linked TOC, although a number of them don't, that's true.

    Hey, if you're changing them manually anyway, maybe it's an idea to contribute to Project Gutenberg by uploading your fixed versions. :)
  • edited January 2013
    I guess we all have our preferred formatting :) For instance, unlike you, I absolutely hate blank lines between regular paragraphs, only between... "chapter parts" I guess. You know, when there is actually a blank line in a printed book.

    I also like a very small font (usually the smallest available) and no margin on any sides of the page. I like the same indentation you do, though, and definitely a new page for a new chapter, except in some cases such as Bernard Werber's books (his chapters can be a sentence or paragraph long, and there are hundreds per book. It wouldn't work well).
    Oh, and I prefer the chapter number and title to be on a single line (unless too long for that).
  • edited January 2013
    There are ebooks I've bought which had a space and no indent, others that had a wide indent and no space, and still others that had a narrow indent. It got me picky because I started being all "I like this book's formatting better than that one" so I got into fixing them all uniformly how I like it.
  • edited January 2013
    As I’ve dictated, I’ve written a bunch of books, and for me, it’s more of a hobby than a planned career. I’ve also written a few screenplays, mostly based on books and one book I wrote. I’m a big western and horror buff, so most of my stories are just those. I’ve written a collection of detective fiction called Pulp, a vampire story placed during Black Death-era Europe, a pirate story, a western set in Gold Rush-era Alaska, a horror story about a group of runaways who are stalked by a young female vampire, a western centered around a Confederate runaway fleeing from a bounty hunter, a horror story based around Little Red Riding Hood, a screenplay for a psychological horror movie, and a mystery/horror story revolving around the aftermath of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
  • edited January 2013
    I used to follow the Skullduggery Pleasant series, but I started not being able to find them anymore and I thought the author just stopped writing them. I remember that fateful day when I was browsing for books and just HAD to get the book with the skeleton throwing a fireball on the cover. I mean, why WOULDN'T I get a book with a cover like that?

    Well, looks like I'll need to take a trip to the bookstore now.

    His up to 7 books, 1 novelette and 1 novella so far, and still going strong.

    I love the series, haven't been able to put a book down once I get it up. :)
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