1. IndubitablyMe's Avatar
    I've been waiting patiently for a Kindle or Nook app, or an update to Kobo that would allow side-loading epubs, but over the weekend I decided that I'd finally had enough. One of the major selling points of the PlayBook for me was how its size would make it an excellent eReader, but I haven't yet been able to enjoy that aspect of it. I have many DRM-free epubs in my collection that I've been waiting to read, and I'm not about to purchase them again through Kobo. We have two Nooks in our house, so I guess I could pick up the old Nook classic while the wife plays with her Nook Color, but that would leave my beautiful PlayBook out in the cold.

    I had read that other people use Calibre (a program I've been utilizing for a long time and absolutely adore) to convert their books to PDF, which they then open in Adobe Reader. So I attempted this over the weeked, but there were a few problems. First off, the dimensions were all off. I tried several of the settings, including the one that said "Samsung Galaxy and other 1080x600 tablets" but it produced horrible looking margins when reading in portrait. Also, there didn't appear to be a way to increase the size of the text during the conversion, leaving the user to pinch and zoom in order to achieve optimal font size, thus making reading more of a chore than the normal "tap for next page".

    So I set out to fix these problems, and produce myself an eBook that I could easily sit back and enjoy without it feeling like a workaround. Instead of going through my entire process, I will only include the steps on how I created the final copy that I have on my PlayBook today.

    For this process, you will need three programs. The first is the aforementioned Calibre, which every avid eBook reader should have anyway. The others are Microsoft Word (or OpenOffice.org, which was what I used), and Adobe Acrobat (or CS or cutepdfwriter // needs to be a program that allows you to "print" PDFs.)

    The first step is to open your word program and change the page size to width: 8.13 and height: 14.04. Set your margins to zero on top, bottom, left and right.

    The next step is optional, but I really enjoyed the outcome. Do a search on Google images for "paper texture" and find one that looks like an actual book page, minus the text. I actually cropped the image I found to 600x1080 and bumped down the saturation, brightness and contrast to make it a bit more pleasing to the eye, but that is probably unnecessary. Now in your word processing "page settings" insert the picture as the background for the entire document.

    Now, use Calibre to convert the .epub (or .mobi or .prc, whatever format your eBook is in) to a .txt. Open it, select all, copy and paste it into the word doc. Now change the font size to 36 pt (this number is personal preference). I also increased the opacity of the text by a smidgen to make it easier on the eyes.

    If your everything looks good to you - the benefit of this method is you can customize it 100% to your preferred layout - then go to print, change the printer to "PDF writer", and press okie dokie. It may take a hot minute to complete, but once it's done then all you have to do is transfer it to your PlayBook, fire up Reader, flip orientation to portrait and enjoy. Since Reader can't do bookmarks at this time, you might want to download a note-taking app so you can annotate your page number whenever you close Reader.

    I hope this method works for others. I have very much enjoyed using my 'Book as an eReader over the past few days. The page size (8.13 x 14.04) was discovered through a lot of trial and error, and it still isn't perfect. There is a very slight gray border around each page which may or may not bother the reader. If anyone comes up with a better set of dimensions, please post them as I'd love to actually fill the entire screen. Bon appetit!
    cjmartin, pkcable, V3nom and 8 others like this.
    06-13-11 11:44 AM
  2. IndubitablyMe's Avatar
    Is there a way to post pictures without opening a photobucket account? I forgot to add screen shots of the final product so that anyone that wants to attempt this can see what it will look like.
    wms3 likes this.
    06-13-11 12:24 PM
  3. FF22's Avatar
    Sounds interesting and solving such problems can be fun in itself.

    re: Attaching pictures - If you use the Advanced Editing or Go Advanced, you can use the paper clip to attach a thumbnail to your message. It will prompt to browse your computer for the jpg - there are some size limitations so don't save a huge jpg.
    IndubitablyMe likes this.
    06-13-11 12:38 PM
  4. IndubitablyMe's Avatar
    Thar she blows. I've always just done the "quick post" - didn't realize that there was a more advanced option.

    Anyway, I've attached 2 screenshots of my new eBook for y'all to see. Hopefully there aren't any copyright issues with doing so - I doubt that, as the first part of this book is available for preview on Amazon anyway. The second pic shows what it looks like when swiping between pages. Notice the small gray border that I was unable to get rid of. I still think it looks pretty decent. Opinions/comments/criticisms?
    06-13-11 12:50 PM
  5. badge17's Avatar
    nice....i was getting sick of trying to find 300 missing page when id convert to pdf
    06-13-11 03:07 PM
  6. pkcable's Avatar
    06-13-11 03:10 PM
  7. V3nom's Avatar
    thanks for the steps. cant wait to try it. its the one thing missing from my playbookt
    06-13-11 03:18 PM
  8. Truckswain's Avatar
    Great Post and Thanks! It is a real shame however that there is this much effort needed to read a simple epub. Kobo on all other devices supports side loading of epubs why not for Playbook? As soon as a proper Ereader app is available that supports side loaded epubs it is good-bye to Kobo.
    06-14-11 08:45 AM
  9. IndubitablyMe's Avatar
    It is a real shame however that there is this much effort needed to read a simple epub.
    Once you have the .doc saved as a template, the transferring of individual epub text will take seconds to accomplish. There will be a rather lengthy conversion time, but you don't need to wait by the computer while it does that. So all in all, you can create dozens of eBooks with just minutes of actual "work".

    If I am able to get the dimensions perfect and Adobe adds bookmarks to Reader, I may even keep this as my "eReader" of choice - at least until I finish all the epubs I already have in my collection. My biggest complaint with Kobo (aside from not being able to side-load) is that I can't seem to get rid of the margins. I like having the text go all the way to the bezel. Also, I like the "paper-esque" background that I achieved with the jpg. It makes the whole experience more... comfy is the only word to describe it, I guess.
    06-14-11 10:28 AM
  10. mandony's Avatar
    The current situation with the "Reader" is not toooo good.

    Problems with the current Adobe Reader:
    > no 'bookmarks'.
    > no 'go to page'.
    > no 'highlighting'.
    > difficult to navigate large file (can be overcome by breaking the book into small chapter files).
    > can not view two pages at a time.
    > ya da ya da
    06-14-11 11:09 AM
  11. IndubitablyMe's Avatar
    The current situation with the "Reader" is not toooo good.

    Problems with the current Adobe Reader:
    > no 'bookmarks'.
    > no 'go to page'.
    > no 'highlighting'.
    > difficult to navigate large file (can be overcome by breaking the book into small chapter files).
    > can not view two pages at a time.
    > ya da ya da
    I agree with the no bookmarks argument - we need them sorely. While there is technically no "go to page", you can easily pull over the page-scrubber at the bottom to get to wherever you like in the document. No highlighting - eh, that's user preference. If you'd actually use it then more power to ya, but I don't. *shrug*

    The difficulty with large files is the issue that confuses me the most. When I tried to convert files with Calibre, the larger ones had this problem, but when making the same files using the method described above... they somehow worked. I have no idea if it's dependent on which program was used to make the pdf (ie, was it an actual Adobe program?) or if it has to do with the page count, file size, etc. It's kind of hit or miss in my experience. And I agree with you, this could easily be overcome by splitting the book in segments.

    Concerning the last point, this could certainly be achieved (for eReading, at least) if you dedicated some time to creating the proper template in Word. Find the perfect page size to fill the screen in landscape, set it up with two columns - you could even create a line down the middle or find a graphic that would show on every page if you wanted it for aesthetic purposes. I personally prefer read in portrait, but to each his own.
    Last edited by IndubitablyMe; 06-14-11 at 11:44 AM.
    he11fire555 likes this.
    06-14-11 11:42 AM
  12. V3nom's Avatar
    I have to compliment you again. My Playbook is now complete. I do miss the finer things in life, like word lookup, highlighting and just remembering which page i was on, but hey.... in this developing world of QNX lets make our own fun.

    Once the template was made, took about 10 minutes to finalise which backdrop etc, it took a further ten minutes to convert 10 books from kindle format to this...
    Stored them in my dropbox folder and then download one at a time when I need it. Almost like my own library in the cloud

    Thanks again...I really like it
    06-15-11 03:32 AM
  13. wms3's Avatar
    This is great! it never occurred to me to change the page size of the PDF so it would work properly in portrait mode. Up to now i've been avoiding using the PB for ebooks, so this solves a problem for me. Thank you so much!
    06-15-11 08:50 AM
  14. badge17's Avatar
    i'm converting my 1600 ebooks to .txt as we speak. I tried on a few books as a test and it works great! Thanks again
    06-15-11 08:56 AM
  15. Truckswain's Avatar
    Total agreement with all the other posters, this workaround works great and I can now enjoy my epub library on my PB. Thanks again!!
    06-15-11 12:45 PM
  16. wms3's Avatar
    This is why i love this forum. Nevermind the whiners who do nothing but complain, its guys like the OP who figure out how to solve issues and share the solution that makes this place worthwhile. I'm now off to convert more ebooks!
    06-15-11 01:01 PM
  17. PBDev's Avatar
    Great post! One suggestion, try converting it to .rtf. That way you keep the format of the text and the pictures.
    06-17-11 07:12 PM
  18. lotuslanderz's Avatar
    Nice going, OP!

    BTW seems like Kobo "hides" its files. I cannot find the free book I downloaded. Do the PlayBook file browsers in the App store show all hidden files? Maybe if we knew where these files are stored, we can figure out another way to sideload ePubs?
    06-17-11 07:33 PM
  19. FF22's Avatar
    I just did a very quick survey and not exhaustive and did not see anything obvious.
    06-17-11 09:00 PM
  20. Nbailog's Avatar
    thanks SO much for this! about to read Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol before sleeping

    however, there are some weird characters, something like an A with two dots above it, any way to remove these?
    06-19-11 10:26 PM
  21. mmcpher's Avatar
    Here's a link to an article from How-To Geek that may be useful: "How to Convert PDF Files for Easy Ebook Reading"
    08-03-11 01:14 PM