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Archived Message:

creating ebooks for personal pda use

aviator411 I am not interested in creating ebooks for publication, only for personal use on my pda. I am interested creating ebook documents from scans of selected portions of existing hard copy school textbooks. Is there any ebook compiler or other software that will generate an ebook document from my text scans which will compile illustrations, drawings, charts, etc. as well as text into a document which will work well on my pda? I want to do this for personal use only in order to avoid the need to carry around 50 - 60 lbs. of text and reference books. Thanks in advance.

Posted on: 3:19 pm on June 6, 2006
Storyman You'll need two applications.

First, a way to convert scanned books into text. These programs are referred to as OCRs (Optical Character Recognition). There are several programs available. My personal preference is OmniPage.

Second, a way to convert the text to the PDF format. Adobe's Acrobat Standard or Pro will do the job. There are other programs available, but I have no idea how well they work.

Of course you'll need Adobe's Acrobat Reader on your PDA.

The major drawback is cost. Since you mention textbook, I'm going out on a limb and guessing you are either an instructor or student. If so, you'll be able to find educational pricing for both products mentioned.

BTW You may interested in Sony's new ebook machine that is scheduled to be released in the last quarter of this year. Really nice machine. It's even easy to read in bright sun light!

My understanding is that the device will allow you to download your own content into the machine. In this case you'd only need an OCR and a word processor.

Sony realizes that one of their largest markets are students. But expect the initial model releases to be directed to the business and early adapter high end consumers.

(Edited by Storyman at 8:44 am on June 6, 2006)

Posted on: 4:42 pm on June 6, 2006
aviator411 Many thanks for the reply. You are very close on both predictions; I am preparing to retire from the Univ of Michigan and return to school to train for yet another career.

I actually bought Omnipage for my first notebook computer, a Mac 190cs but the machine was so lame that OCR was really out of it's reach so I never used it much.

You're also right on the software discount matter. I can purchase the Adobe suite at a huge discount although it's a bit pricey even under those circumstances. Money is really not a limiting factor, however. I'm really trying to assess how much of a "project" it might be to develop ebook documets as described for my pda.

Can you tell me a little more about the capabilities of the OCR process?  Will Omnipage or others know what to do with graphic images when they appear among the text, or would I have to revert to some manual process to extract that information separately and process it for integration back into the text captured via OCR?

I'm hoping there might be a way to simply scan the documents, graphics and all, w the OCR ware then convert to PDF for viewing on the PDA but I know life is seldom that simple. Any insight would be much appreciated. If it's going to get much more complicated and time consuming, I probably won't have the time to deal with it.

If it proves impractical I may have to revert to some of the pda services offered by the book manufacturers, especially in the medical field where I'm headed. Many reference books and journals are now offered in pda accessible format. Less is available in actual textbooks, however. I did find a link on one of the forums here to a goldmine of free medical reference books in ebook form although I don't know if they are well suited to pda use.

Thanks again for the advice!

Posted on: 9:53 pm on June 6, 2006
Storyman Cutting to the chase this is what I'd suggest to accomplish what you want.

Yes, OmniPage will do what you want. The last couple of versions have been very good with character recognition. The better the source document the better the results.  

As for graphics I didn't care much for OmniPage and instead use Photoshop.

After OCR and scan of graphics you'll want to attach the images to specific areas of text. For this Adobe's inDesign is the best way to go.

Adobe's CS2 Premium Suite comes with Acrobat Pro, Photoshop, inDesign, and Illustrator. The integration of the programs is through another program that is included named Bridge. If you aren't familiar with inDesign plan to spend a weekend with the program to get the basics down.

I'm probably making more of the learning curve for inDesign than you'll experience. As they say, "What you put in is what you get out..."

A good way to go is to download the 30-day trial for each of the programs. Word of caution. If you already have Adobe products installed you'll want to uninstall ALL of them before installing CS2--including a registery clean. At least that was my experience on a PC. Adobe only allows the input of a serial number to activate a trial version if, and only if, the product is purchased online; i.e. serial numbers for boxed versions will not work.

Most of your energy will be spent scanning. Either hire a student or purchase a high end scanner with a feeder, which means you'll need to find a print shop that will trim the binding so the pages are loose for the automatic feed.

Posted on: 10:52 pm on June 6, 2006
aviator411 Storyman,

Thanks again. That is most helplful. Doesn't sound too bad. About what I had expected to learn but good to have it confirmed by someone familiar with the process. Another excuse pick up the Adobe package while I can get a real deal on it.

I am wondering how well the pda will handle some of the full page charts and diagrams that appear in many of the texts I'm using. Text is pretty flexible and presumably can be manipulated fairly easily to accomodate the small pda screens while remaining readible. I'm wondering whether large diagrams  can be captured and still remain readible on the pda screen. Re integrating the graphics with the text could actually be an advantage in my case. I can repeat them wherever that would be helpful within the document.

Best regards!

Posted on: 12:37 pm on June 7, 2006
Storyman Aviator411,

As far as the graphics go you'll need to experiment. The good news is that when text and images are resized the images remain tethered to specific text and moves along with it. If the charts are not readable there is always the option of printing them.

You are probably already aware that PDFs have an opton of creating a sub-set of font types requred for the document. Unlike web pages or Word documents that require the font to be installed on the system, sub-sets contain every type face needed. This will help in creating a highly readable document.

Posted on: 4:56 pm on June 7, 2006
Storyman PS

Depending on your PDA you may need to set the graphics to web safe colors.

Posted on: 7:27 pm on June 7, 2006
markvan I've created a quick how-to on creating an eBook that may help you out:



Posted on: 2:49 pm on June 17, 2006

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