Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stanza reads PDFs? Never knew that.

I've used the Stanza reader app on my iPhone for a long time and now I find paper books to be much more cumbersome.
However, I had only ever read books in the .epub format believing that Stanza didn't handle anything else.
This is a little awkward as the vast majority of books available online (and I'm talking principally about free books of which there are millions, if not billions, available on the net) are in the .pdf format rather than .epub.
So my first task after acquiring a new .pdf book was to fire up Calibre and convert the .pdf to .epub and then email it over to my iPhone.
However, the conversion from one format to another is not as straightforward as it sounds. Because it's a type of "translation" you do get some spelling errors. Additionally, diagrams and tables are not well-handled in .epub. I was recently reading a mathematical book with many diagrams and just couldn't follow it in .epub because of the almost complete lack of diagrams.
Well, the other day I was looking for a pdf reader for my iPad and discovered that Stanza does handle PDFs.
To get the .pdf file into Stanza, connect the iPad to your computer (I'm using a MacBook), open iTunes, select the iPad in the Devices pane, click on the "apps" tab on the top of the page and then move down to the File Sharing section at the bottom of the page.
The "Apps" column in this section should contain the Stanza icon as well as some others (mine has VLC, Atomic Web Browser and Google Earth). Select Stanza and drag the PDFs you want to include in your Stanza library to the Stanza Documents pane on the right hand side. This will cause your iPad to sync.
Now disconnect and open Stanza on the iPad and read your PDF.
Having become used to the very bland, error-prone and diagram-less .epub documents I was reading on the iPhone, I find reading PDF's on the iPad to be a refreshing change as I'm seeing a more authentic version of what I want to read.
Nevertheless, although diagrams are available, I still find photographs in books don't show up well in PDFs on the iPad in Stanza. Maybe I'll post to the Stanza forum about this.

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